It is all too easy for us to want to snuggle up and hibernate on these long dark, cold nights. The appeal of early nights and late mornings is strong. Getting out of bed ‘full of the joys of spring’ in the deep, mid winter is, for the most, unheard of; falling out of bed and tripping up in the dark is more like it.
For people with a variety of sleep disorders, life all year long can be difficult, but without a doubt, wintertime is the most challenging part of the year because of the effect the reduction of available light and drop in temperature has on how the brain and body functions.
Sleep disorders are not just about what does or doesn’t happen during the night; it’s about the full 24-hour body clock cycle. Extended darkness and colder temperatures play havoc with this for everyone, but it can be unbearable for those with sleep disorders.
Despite engaging in all the therapy of my sleep treatment plan in a morning (which I have written about in previous blogs) I am still exhausted and find it almost impossible to get going, so I have to have a morning nap by 10.30/11am for 30 to 40 minutes. What doesn’t help is two of my four morning tablets for the bipolar disorder cause drowsiness, so I am fighting against this too. As a result, planning morning events or meetings too difficult. If there is something I absolutely must do, excessive adrenalin and anxiety seem to help me push through, but I can’t manage this every day.
Most people feel sleepy after lunch. It is a natural part of our circadian rhythm to do so, but because of jobs and responsibilities, many people have to push through. An afternoon nap is part of my sleep treatment plan, and luckily, I am in a position of not working, so can do it. Depending on how severe the sleep deprivation is, the nap can be between 30 minutes to an hour and a half.
Then there is after dinner; I cannot keep my eyes open and end up drifting off in front of the TV for 30 minutes. Finally, by 9 pm I am so drained and cannot keep my eyes open, I have to give in and go to bed.
If I am lucky, I am blessed with a sleep cycle between 9 pm and midnight, but for the rest of the nighttime, the effect of the sleep disorder results in me not getting sleep cycles and just experiencing light dozing. This is what has caused chronic sleep deprivation for me. Some nights I am lucky and get a reasonable sleep, but these are so few and far between, that it doesn’t reduce the sleep debt or daytime sleepiness.
Every day I am plagued with overwhelming sleepiness but live the best I can. I need to have the naps, though, so every day I am either asleep or overwhelmed with sleepiness, and it is stealing my life. Adrenalin helps me push through where I can and I somehow manage the extra mile to go to meetings and appointments, but I can’t do it two days in a row – I need recovery time.
Bipolar episodes are impacted by this, but as of late, these are becoming less as my body has finally started responding to the medication. I am getting out for a walk or a cycle for 30 minutes a few times a week now, and I am managing to study for about an hour a few days of the week too. It’s as good as it gets, but at least it is something. Sleepiness eats away at the rest of my time and is stealing my life. I don’t stop fighting it, though, and I am determined to never lose the fight!