Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chasing sleep and staying awake

Chasing a restful night's sleep seems to be a never-ending quest in our house. Dave and I both have difficulties sleeping. It seems that sleep problems are par for the course for those of us living with bipolar disorder. Right now both of us are living in a nearly upside down clock. Dave is a complete night owl. While I tend to head to bed around midnight or so, he is up much later. We both tend to get up around the same time though!

Looking over my old blogs from Myspace, it seems that my struggles with sleep have been around for as long as I can remember. Last fall I had a sleep study done with all the wires of an EEG, mic and video (the technical term is polysomnography). It took months to chase down the results because my family doctor (recalling this without the report in hand) just assured me that I wasn't about to die suddenly from sleep apnea and didn't have restless leg syndrome and nodded, yes, she'd fax the results to my psychiatrist (who'd requested the family doc make the referral in the first place). Weeks later at the psychiatrist's office we get the sleep clinic to fax the report directly, skipping the inefficient family doc. We find that I have subclinical sleep apnea. Which basically means that I do stop breathing during my sleep (4 times during the 6-hour study), but not often enough for clinical intervention (people with severe problems stop/wake at least that often an hour). So what's this sleepy and moody woman to do?

Well, for the past week, it's been an increase in dosages of my medications. While my mood definitely has improved, the length of my waking day has decreased to approximately ten (count 'em 10) functional hours. I also don't like the glued to my bed feeling in the mornings that seem to keep that day short. Declaring the hours to be functional is stretching it, too. I have housework backed up, but the dark of the evening is not when I want to be moving around energetically doing the perky-er housekeeping. So, each day I go to bed earlier praying to wake at a decent hour in the morning to get a head start on the things I want to get done.

While winter tends to be a good season for me, unlike many people dealing with mood disorders, I don't like completely missing the daylight. The sunlight-colored lamp Dave and I use in our computer area helps, but again, with the short day, it can only do so much.