Wednesday, August 31, 2011

To dream perchance of sleep

Dear Friends,

If someone had warned me of the insomnia issues that accompany menopause, I would have slept more than 8 hours a day in my youth and never would have pulled all-nighters. Like a squirrel waiting for a blizzard, I'd have put all of my sleep savings in the bank and never would have considered burning the candle at both ends. In short, I'd have appreciated slumber before it left me high and dry.

My sleep problems are sucking my brain dry.

Forget 8 hours, I would give anything if I could fall asleep and stay that way for just 5 to 6 hours straight. Lately, I stumble into bed, exhausted, read a page on my kindle and fall fast asleep only to awaken abruptly 8.2 seconds later, wide awake and praying for sleep. If I do manage to fall asleep, I awaken sweaty and hot in no time at all, sometimes several times a night, and lay there waiting for sleep to come again. I play a game called musical blankets all through the night. Blankets on, blankets off, blankets on, off, on, off, on. You should see the twisted mess of pillows, blankets and sheets when I get up in the morning. Believe me, it's a mess. This has become maddening and is totally affecting my waking hours.

For instance, I have forgotten underarm deodorant twice in the past week. It only becomes apparent to me when sometime later in the night, I wonder what that smell is only to discover it's me, or more specifically, my armpits. This doesn't happen when I'm at home--of course--I only notice when I'm away from my deodorant stick.

Last week while multitasking, I left home with my briefcase and saw the trash and recycling cans needed to be returned to the back yard. I set my briefcase down and moved the cans where they belonged and left for work. Lalalalalala. I got most of the way to my office when my son called to tell me I'd run over my briefcase with my employer owned laptop inside. In a panic, I raced home to find everything intact even though my rolling briefcase had tire prints and tattered fabric to show for my absent mindedness. What.An.Idiot!

These are just two of the forgetful issues I'm ascribing to my lack of sleep. There are more, like the night I left my work phone at home while working, and the mandatory work inservice I forgot to attend that has irritated the powers that be. If this is early onset dementia, I don't want to know. May it rob me of what I'm missing before I know what hit me. I prefer these symptoms to be signs of an irritating problem, but not a disease.

I've tried different methods and medications to help me sleep, but I only awaken feeling hungover and not at all rested. The worst of these drugs is benadryl. Blech. While it makes me sleep, I go through the entire next day in a fog. I don't want to feel like that, either. Knitting, while relaxing, is not something I can do when I'm tired at night. I end up making mistakes that have to be corrected in the light of day. I've eliminated caffeine after noon, so that's not the problem. I've watched boring television with a timer, but there is only so much of House Hunters International that a girl can take without going completely mad. For reading material, I stick to the dull at night. I don't need disturbing dreams added to whatever sleep I manage to squeeze into my life. My bed is not the problem. At least I don't think it is. It is a Tempurpedic, and they are known for being hot, but the kind of hot I get is the boiling from the inside out type: Hot flash hot.

I can deal with the stray whiskers I've sprouted, the sagging body parts and gray hair. How can I deal with the sleep disorder that appears to have accompanied the aging process? Tell me I've not squandered away all the restorative sleep of my youth with nary a thought to how precious it truly was.

Suggestions welcome. Please. I'll try anything.


Desperate and Sleepless in Detroit

p.s. If you are still young or don't suffer sleep issues, consider yourself blessed and warned. Don't skimp on the sleep to get inconsequential chores done. You may never get it back.


The Bug said...

I've had trouble sleeping the last few months, but I've attributed it to my pain issues (as in, when I move while asleep it HURTS & wakes me up). Since I started back to work after my surgery I've had some trouble going to sleep at night - but this I attribute to my wonky "retirement" schedule while I was off work. However, I'll be reading this thread with interest because if I don't get over this being unable to fall asleep I'll be as desperate as you are!

I also do the blanket on blanket off thing - but it's just regular old sweating so far. I don't feel the burning from within. Yet. Any day now though - I can just tell it's coming. Any day now.

I do have a friend who recommended pricey pajamas that she swears are the best thing for hot flashes - I'll look up the link when I get home.

Miss 376 said...

Wish I could help, I've not got to that age, though it's not that far away, but I don't sleep. It's quite a standing joke here, especially when the words don't come out in the right order.

Denise said...

I've suffered with insomnia most of my life.

You just described my nights lately with the blankets. Mine is related to the FM. I could be pain free when I lay down, but within 30 minutes all my muscles go into spasms and it takes a few hours for it work out. We are in the monsoon season and the high pressure is killing me.

I have used extra strength Advil pm (it doesn't leave me groggy like the other sleep aids) and sleepytime tea. A set bedtime and routine usually helps.

Good luck, I hope you get some sleep soon.

Stephanie V said...

I wish I had something wise to share but sleeping has never been an issue for me. It's genetic: I come from a family of sleepers.

I did have the hot flashes, though. Black Kohosh really helped me through this unpleasant part. I hope there are others who have better advice than I.

SkippyMom said...

Sorry Rudee. Sounds rough. The nice thing is, that if it is related to menopause it will eventually go away, right?

I haven't slept well either and don't like the prescribed medications for the reasons you list, but I do find that one thing that helps is a fan set next to the bed. It is the combination of the sound [a low hum], the light breeze and the cooling effect.

Go luck sweetie. And no running over briefcases anymore, 'kay?

Brenda said...

I went through the change 20 years ago through a hysterectomy. I still have hot flashes now and then. I have had insomnia most of my life and used to take trazodone with only a few side effects while I took it. I have been taking Xanax for the past few years for sleep and it works. I use to take Excedrin PM or Advil PM and those had too many side effects the next day. If I don't take SOME thing....I just don't sleep. And then I am nothing more than a zombie that can't think or do anything. Welcome to the ageing body club. I have more crappy symptoms of ageing than I could tell you about. It sucks!!! The best part of ageing though is that you can not remember shit. You just kind of live in the moment because you can't remember anything else...just an occasional one pops up here and there.

Silliyak said...

I double up on Melatonin, and the fans is a big help both for the breeze and the white noise. Good luck,

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

don't do what i did. i took hormones for eight years, felt wonderful!!! got breast cancer! bam!

i keep water next to the bed so when i wake up i drink, a damp bath cloth helps too, put it in a baggie so it won't mess up your nightstand and rub it on yourself, a small fan (in addition to the ceiling fan!) helps, i turn it on when i get hot...

good luck, it's not easy and i sure know it!

smiles, bee

linda said...

Google "menopause cooling vest" or some such phrase for the hot flashes. They're undervests that help regulate the temps a little better. Better than nothing!
Having the same sleep issues here...I can't even bore myself to sleep. Usually get to sleep for real an HOUR before the alarm clock starts screaming. Arrrgh.

Sandy said...

Ohhh I feel for you. I never had any of that during menopause - and it's been 15 years for me - but during the sale of my house - this last year - I started not being able to sleep - stress, fear it wouldn't sell in time...all that jazz.

I stopped fighting it and instead would fire up the laptop and my eyes would get real sleepy and off to sleep I'd go - for an hour or two.

As soon as we moved and the house closed and our money funded, I'm back to restful sleeping.

I feel for you but if it's menopause related - i have no clue what will help...

Sandy said...

my son who has horrible insomnia got medical marijuana -the type specifically for insomnia. His friend bakes up these wonderful chocolate truffles with the presription pot in them...I've had them once..they are wonderful but I only had a half of a truffle. You might look into medical marijuana.

Ruth said...

No good ideas - a full night sleep is a rare thing - if i remember half of the stuff I am supposed to I'm good.
Alcohol which seems very nice at 6pm with dinner or prior to is really bad at 2am 3am 4am 5am etc when you wake up more awake and hotter than usual.
I believe that at this age in the old days we were either dead having worked our fingers to the bone - or if a richer lady would now be spending our days on the couch sipping ludamun( not spelt right)and not working and thinking and living our wonderfull busy lives - ours bodies are fighting back.
Take care.

rosedel said...

Your post was wonderful. It sums up my experiences perfectly. (Once I not only forgot to pick up the pastries for a work breakfast, I totally forgot the breakfast!) I now am a post-it woman. I leave them everywhere with reminders, steering wheel of the car, bathroom mirror. I even staple notes around my purse strap if I have to stop somewhere after work.
Sleeping is awful. I love to sleep. I have always been a happy sleeper. No more!
I keep my room COLD. Sleep in little to nothing. I keep a wet washcloth next to the bed. Even if it is room temperature when it touches my "furnace face" it feels like heaven.
One nice thing about being the one of the Baby Boomer generation is knowing that I am not alone and most women understand what I am going through. :)
Good luck!

Rose said...

Xanax helps me but it's probably not the best long term plan. But I recognize a few of your situations, like memory loss and hot flashes. The memory thing is scary to me too, but hopefully we'll move past it, right? Good luck. Oh, also a fan for white noise sometimes help too.

Finding Pam said...

Rudee, I can relate to all of these comments as I am a chronic insominac. I am on the down side of all of the hot flashes. My memory was so bad for a few years. Looking back I think it was the diabetes.

One thing not mentioned is exercise. Regular walks or any kind of exercise seems to help. I used to take clonazapam and Zanax for years. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not.

I sleep with the ceiling fan and a fan by my bedside. I sleep with ear plugs BC my hubs snores and talks in his sleep. Usually happens just when I am falling to sleep. I take Trazodone now and melatonin. Sleep is never guranteed.

Lately, I stay up and watch TV in a recliner. When I start to doze off, then I go to bed. Calcium seems to help as well. I don't do anything taxing at night or work with numbers such as paying bills.

I hope you find a solution to your lack of sleep. My sister will go days with out sleep. Then it makes her anxious. Good luck, Rudee.

Quiltluver said...

Sounds all too familiar. Although I don't like to take them every night, Benadryl and Advil pm work when I just have to get some sleep. But I have trouble waking up the next morning when I take them. Having a remote control fan next to the bed is a wonderful thing that you can just reach out and flip it on or off. Most "tower" type fans come with remotes these days.

Devon said...

I'm a couple years past menopause now and am sleeping much better than while in perimenopause. A few things did and still do help.

I keep the house cool at night.. I will tolerate a warm house during the day but at night I turn the AC on and set it to 69. Totally worth it for a good nights sleep.

Also, stopped my daily one to two glasses of wine. Makes me too sleepy to knit in the evening and wires me at about 3am. Much better without it!

Good luck! I remember when I was a sleep deprived mom after the birth of my second child.. my first born handed me an object and asked what it was... for the life of me I couldn't come up with the name of the object. It was a clothing hanger. Now I know why they use sleep deprivation as torture!

Anonymous said...

Rudee that just sucks.. I use to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere. Now I have problems.. and I medicate.. Ambien (NOT really a good idea) I send crazy e-mails and eat and don't remember.. I also take excedrin PM .. I take Soma for the nightly muscle spasms but that doesn't work as well anymore.. I'm really sorry - not sleeping is a nightmare.. Hope some of the great advice i've seen here helps.

NCmountainwoman said...

When I have a wakeful night, I get out of bed, grab a light blanket and a boring book and move out of the bedroom to a recliner. I pretend it doesn't matter if I don't sleep. If you can rid the "I've GOT to get to sleep" mindset you might find that relaxing in a recliner at least gives you more rest than tossing and turning in bed. And I often fall asleep in the recliner.

Being a knitting nurse, you no doubt know about reliable (key word reliable) centers for sleep studies.

Rositta said...

Your post made me laugh since I've been through most of it, well except the computer thing. I started the blanket on blanket off thing around age 40 and it's still with me 20 years later. My drug of choice is Premarin and if I forget to take it my body lets me know. Every once in a while my doc will tell me it's bad for me and another time he'll tell me it's okay to take it again. I won't give it up regardless. Definitely a fan is also a must. Good luck, sleep tight...ciao

Carolsknittin said...

I was SO there a few months ago. and had been for well over two years. I finally went to a hormone patch, keep the house a cool 68 at night, and sleep with both the ceiling fan and a smaller one blowing directly on me. Sleep is back! The hormone patch is what made the difference - stopped the hot flashes that were waking me up!