In this sleep deprivation series, we have learned of the dangers of sleep deprivation to adults and children... the consequences of not getting the rest we need. We have talked about some ways to get more sleep.... but what about when sleep deprivation becomes severe? Is there any more we can do to help it?
One summer during my college years, I worked 2 jobs-back to back....16 hours in a row. Both jobs were in one building, so I just had to walk from the 3rd floor down to the 1st floor to start my day job. I was glad to make a little extra money to pay on my college tuition...it was only student wage, so it still wasn't a lot, but it sure helped. That summer was excessively hot... and there was no air conditioning in the dorms, but we could rent a room air conditioner. Since I was trying so hard to pay on my bill, I didn't want to spend the large monthly cost for the AC. I was working from midnight until about 5 pm each day... so my only chance to sleep was after work and before I had to be back on the job at midnight, 5 days a week. Those were the hottest hours of the day and without AC, I couldn't sleep very well at all. Eventually, I had to get AC, but by then I still couldn't sleep. Once school started, my hours were greatly reduced, but I continued to work some and go to school full time... and my health couldn't take it. By mid semester, I was taken to the ER and it took a long time to recover... but I did and I was more careful.
A few years later, after Son #2 was born with severe medical problems-there were so many emergencies... so many doctor appointments.... so many times of rushing to the ER... Son #2 was on several medical machines when he finally came home from the hospital and the alarms would go off often... many times it was a false alarm, but every alarm had to be treated as serious because many times it was a real emergency and I would wake up, rush to my son's crib to suction his trach or do an emergency trach change or some other help for him. My husband was on nights at the time, so the nights were all my duty.... and then he needed to sleep in the daytime, so I needed to do much of the day duty also. Plus, Son #1 was 2 years old...and very very very active and I had to keep him quiet. I was exhausted and yet I couldn't ever let myself fall into a deep sleep. I was on what I call "high alert status"... needing to always be ready to jump up and be completely awake to deal with an emergency. When my husband went to days, he had to be to work at 5 am, but since we only had 1 vehicle and Son #2 had lots of doctor appointments... sometimes 4-7 a week, I needed to get the boys up early and take my husband to work many days. Anyway, there was much more... but suffice it to say that this drain on my sleep... this excessive stress... went on for many years.... My body became accustomed to sleeping lightly... always being "ready" to act quickly... and I wasn't really resting.... I was surviving.
When things finally settled down some with Son #2, we had a total of 6 kids, which is a big job by itself. (By the way, I am not at all complaining about my large family... I feel utterly blessed with each member of the family... I am just stating the facts.)The medical issues were still there, but less often, thankfully... but I still had to sleep lightly. When I was finally able to be "off duty" in the sense of my husband taking over for a bit... my body wouldn't give in to sleep. It was frustrating... When things get this far, it can turn to adrenal issues, thyroid issues and more. The body needs sleep, yet the "high alert status" stays active... the body can't really relax.
I learned to never take caffeine after 3 pm.... and I didn't use much caffeine anyway... just some black tea, for the most part. I learned to do the things I shared in part 4 of this series... and they did help. One problem with adrenal fatigue/exhaustion; however, is that as you desperately NEED sleep, the body become unable to sleep... it is one of the symptoms of the problem. So, the search for sleep had to intensify....
Some things I have learned:
-at times ear plugs are a big help.... or even just a bit of cotton in the ear to muffle noises
-the room needs to be dark for good sleep and the body's melatonin production.
-exercise is a good thing... earlier in the day, NOT before bed....with adrenal problems, though, excessive exercise is counterproductive, so I have to limit it
-my sleep is much more important than getting more things done, if they are not urgent.
-we don't talk about hard or involved issues in the evening... they interfere with my sleep
-I have to be careful to give myself time to "wind down" before sleep... reading or something quiet
-When I wake really early, I try to stay in bed and go back to sleep if possible... I used to just get up and get busy; however if it goes on too long, I get up anyway.
-I have limited caffeine even more... and I rarely have it at all... except some chocolate. :)
-I don't do too many activities outside the home in the evening... ever... since it interferes with my sleep and I feel too wound up to sleep for a long time afterwards.
-My husband institued a Quiet After 8:30pm Rule... quieter games and talking(we have found this helps everyone... not just me. :)
-There are herbs like wild lettuce, hops, licorice, peppermint, and others that can be helpful as tea or capsules.
-A magnesium deficiency-even slight- can interfere with sleep... I especially like using magnesium oil on my feet, before bed- this can be good for the whole family also. A calcium deficiency can also be a problem for sleeping.
-I need to take my B vitamins daily... B complex, pantothenic acid, and more.
-It is important to keep the digestion working well... constipation can interfere with sleep.
-I need to drink plenty of water during the day...
-In the winter months of dry inside air, a damp towel hanging over the heat vent can put moisture into the air to help with sleep.
-It is important to deal with issues... forgiveness, bitterness, worry and more as these things can interfere with sleep
-Singing and being joyful is a good thing for sleep... isn't funny how doing what God says to do anyway, can also help sleep? :)
-A warm bath with epsom salt and essential oils can be very relaxing. I know I already said that before, but relaxing is really important for good sleep... and when sleep deprivation becomes severe, it can be important to learn how to relax.
-As the body gets more and more tired, inflammation can result, which interferes with the sleep, especially if pain is present... I take tumeric/curcumin to help with inflammation.
-I have recently started making a passionflower/peppermint/red clover tea that is relaxing and soothing before bed.
-Get enough protein during the day..... My Energy Has Increased Because of Doing This...
-Breathing deeply can help cleanse the body and can help sleep.
-Melatonin can be helpful to use occasionally, but children should not take it.
-5-HTP can be helpful
-I love it when my husband or kids rub my shoulders/back... it is relaxing and can aid in sleeping.
-When the sleep deprivation was really bad, I started lying down for a nap every day... even if I couldn't sleep, I found that being horizontal during the day was helpful for adrenal fatigue/exhaustion...and it also helped the sleep deprivation.
-I try to be off of the computer by 8 pm..... My daughter reminded me of this fact when I was working on Part 4 of this series... I was working on it later than usual because my husband was in the bath and I could just keep on working until 10 pm... I got it all done, BUT my daughter and I laughed over the fact that one of the things I said in the post I was writing was how important it was to get to bed earlier and to be off of the electronic devices earlier. sigh- I have to keep learning. :)
-I do not use an alarm clock, if I can help it... I tend to wake up early anyway. When I do need one, I use a sun clock that just lightens the room... it is a gentler way to wake up and it has really helped me... I have been startled awake for too many years and I am needing to try to avoid that. :)
-Reduce stress as much as possible.
-I thank God for the sleep I get... even when it isn't nearly enough.... I will just try harder the next night to get more sleep.
-I have found that working consistently on this problem is better than getting a lot of sleep one night and little the next.
- I have had to learn that it is okay to focus on what my body needs.... I have spent years focusing almost entirely on my family and their needs... and it isn't selfish to do what needs to be done to help me sleep well... although it can feel like it. We do need to be careful not to carry this too far and expect to become a pampered princess. :)
The Sleep Deprivation Series:
Are You Sleep Deprived? Part 1
Yes, I'm Sleep Deprived-So What? Part 2
Sleep Deprivation Affects Children Also-Part 3
Yes, I'm Sleep Deprived-Now What? Part 4
Sleep Deprivation-When It Becomes Severe Part 5
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