Thursday, March 1, 2012

On the Subject of Sleep

Here I am awake - again. I know.  I shouldn't be doing an activity like this - writing a blog post. I should be clearing my mind. Relaxing. SLEEPING!

But there are now so many reasons that make sleeping almost impossible now.  In this life. 

I used to have a very occasional episode of insomnia where I couldn't seem to stop the thoughts running through my head.  But most of the time I could lie down and seem to just melt into sleep. 

When my alarm went off in the morning I may have been perturbed at it rousing me from a good deep sleep.  But getting up was fairly easy and I usually had a good start to the day.

And of course there were the nights when I was going through menopause when a hot flash would wake me up. But even then, if I threw off the covers I'd fall back to sleep quickly.

But along comes MS and I have nights like this.

One of the biggest changes is my inability to sleep in a bed. There is absolutely no comfortable position.  After only a few minutes some part of my body is screaming from the cramping that develops. And if I don't wake up when it first starts, I literally scream out when I do.

I now sleep in a recliner chair. It seems that fewer body parts are pressed against the chair and so there is less cramping. My legs may still suffer but most of the time that can be relieved by putting the leg rest up or down. Then up again. Then down again. Unless it's my arm or back then I have to shift to one side or another. 
But even in the recliner I spend a good amount of time getting in a position which my body deems as comfortable to begin to sleep.

Getting to sleep also means making sure I am warm. I've worn socks to sleep for a long while but now I have to wear slipper socks on top. And now I need to wear gloves to bed to keep my hands warm enough to not cramp.

Once the socks, slipper socks and gloves are on I put on my Snuggie and tuck it closely around my shoulders, body and legs. Then comes the blanket. Again, tucked closely.

My nighttime ritual includes reading a chapter or so on my Kindle. This I need so I can enlarge the print but in something lighter than holding a book.  Reading usually helps to clear my mind and make me sleepy.

Finally I pull my hands into the sleeves of my Snuggie and put my arms underneath the blanket. Whew! If it took you this long to read all of this, imagine how long it takes me.

And then hopefully, I'll fall asleep.

Until I need to wake up to adjust my body or the recliner. Or I have to use the bathroom.

And there are often nights like last night. Yes, I finally did stop writing this, fell asleep and finished it in the morning. And yes, I do take something to help me sleep.

I am lucky in one big way. Being unable to work at least means that I can usually sleep a little later in the morning. And tonight I will probably sleep better. Even after my usual afternoon nap, I can bet that I'll be so tired when I lay down tonight that I fall asleep faster. Until I get a leg cramp...

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