How well do you sleep?

CindyCarrollEThis is a serious question. Sleep problems aren’t something that should be taken lightly though people who don’t get enough sleep tend to brag about how little sleep they need to function. Ever heard anyone do that? “Oh I can get by on four hours a night.” They say it like it’s a great thing. But really they’re just getting by on that. Lack of sleep is their new normal. They would feel better if they got more sleep. How much more productive could they be if they actually got enough sleep?

Gained weight recently and don’t know why? Can’t lose weight even though you’re watching what you eat? Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Because not getting enough sleep puts your body in stress mode. In stress mode the body stores fat. This could be why I haven’t been able to lose weight. I don’t eat a lot more than other people. Since I’m a quality assurance engineer for the day job I think this calls for a test. Change nothing in the way food intake or exercise but get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. See if I lose any weight.

But maybe me going to bed too late and getting up too early aren’t the only reasons I’m not getting enough sleep.  I’m going for a sleep study to find out if I have sleep apnea because I made my fiancé get one done. Turns out I was right. He does have it. Now he’s on a CPAP machine.

You should have the sleep study done if you suspect you have sleep apnea. I’m going to give you some tough love here. SLEEP APNEA KILLS. You stop breathing while you sleep. Most times your body wakes itself up and then you just go back to sleep. Sometimes your body doesn’t wake itself up and YOU DIE. Yes, it is a hot button with me because I know people who suspect they have sleep apnea but haven’t gone for the study. They have children. One is a single mother. If she doesn’t care about herself she should at least care enough for her son.  I have another friend who won’t go for one because she says she wouldn’t want to use the CPAP machine. So to me that says she’d rather risk death. Totally up to her but so ridiculous.

My sleep doctor does lots of tests before the study. I had to go for blood tests – regular blood test and a blood gas test. The blood gas is to determine how my oxygen saturation is in my blood. People with sleep apnea can have low blood oxygen. With sleep apnea your brain is starved for oxygen. This can cause all sorts of other problems including high blood pressure.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea: From http://www.lung.ca/diseases-maladies/apnea-apnee/signs-signes/index_e.php

Snoring
Depression
Sleepy during the day and don’t know why
Morning headaches
Can’t concentrate
Irritable
High blood pressure

Don’t have sleep apnea but still aren’t sleeping well?

Tips on getting a better sleep:

Sleep in a cool room.

No lights – so that’s TV lights, lights from gadgets etc. (I put my iPhone face down so if it does buzz with a notification the room isn’t suddenly bathed in light.)

Go to bed at the same time (even on the weekends) and get up at the same time.

Cut out caffeinated beverages after noon.

Do something soothing before bed. So as much as I would love for you to read my horror short story – don’t do it right before bed. 🙂

That also goes for watching television or a movie. Don’t watch something frightening before bed. Stick to feel good dramas or comedies.

I had been doing some of these. When I watch a horror movie I make sure I watch a comedy movie afterwards. Or I watch two comedy shows. To get the horror stuff out of my head.

So, what should you take away from all this? Sleep is important. But the body doesn’t just need sleep. It needs good, uninterrupted sleep. If you have symptoms, talk to your doctor and go for a sleep study.

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**Don’t read right before bed

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30 thoughts on “How well do you sleep?

  1. Excellent article! And, very cool points on how to get better sleep. One thing I would add is fitness… When you workout, it gives you extra energy, but it also helps you to fall asleep easier and sleep deeper. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Doris. So many people in my family have problems with sleep. I thought I wasn’t one of them but we’ll see. 🙂 I think my tiredness, especially on the weekends, is because I don’t actually get enough sleep. But I think the sleep I get is uninterrupted. I’ll know for sure once I see the sleep doctor for the results. I will be doing a part two for this post.

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      1. I don’t need an alarm. If I need to get up at a certain time I just wake up at that time. Trained myself years ago to do that. Slept well last night, my legs didn’t hurt too much.
        Cher’ley

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  2. Some nights I sleep very well, and then I’ll have a few nights in a row where I can’t sleep. I always read before I go to bed and then for a short while another book when I go to bed. I also drink a cup of coffee in the evening. Most of the time these things never bother me.

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    1. My mother drinks tea all day and has a few cups in the evening as well. She doesn’t have a problem getting to sleep. I think if I drank coffee in the evening I would have trouble falling asleep but we’ll see! I’m having a coffee right now at almost 6 pm. 🙂 I don’t have to work tomorrow though so not too worried about it.

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  3. Very interesting post Cindy. I have recently had a bad time sleeping. I have realized that routine is something I need. I walk 2 1/2 miles every morning, meditate in the afternoon, journal in the evening and go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Since I have stuck to this plan I’m sleeping well and feel so much better!

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  4. I have a hard time with sleeping too. Go to bed early enough usually, but wake up later and then have a hard time going back to sleep. The one thing I’m missing is regular exercise (because of health issues). Maybe that would help.

    Good post. I’m going to show your list of symptoms to my hubby.

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  5. I have a hard time sleeping because my brain just won’t turn off. My husband has sleep apnea and has been tested so he now sleeps with a machine (which name I can’t remember right now) to make sure he gets enough oxygen. Great post.

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    1. Thanks, Erin. My brain does that too. I have my iPhone beside me all the time and I jot stuff down if it won’t leave me alone. I tried reading marketing books before bed but then I get marketing ideas.

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  6. I generally have no trouble falling asleep- so long as I’ve read a little and have the sense that I’m ready – and as Cindy says go to bed at about the same time. What I don’t know is how much really valuable sleep I will have. sometimes i have only approx 3-4 hours, waken suddenly and think I’ve slept all night. However, I know if I get up I’ll regret it the day following the one where I’ve risen early! Good post, Cindy.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I do tend to go to bed at the same time during the week but it’s late. I need to start going to bed earlier. I know some nights I don’t get valuable sleep. If I don’t have sleep apnea I’m not sure what I will do about getting better sleep.

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  7. Great article and very important. I knew I had sleep apnea before I was diagnosed. I asked to be tested. That was 10 years ago and i think if i hadn’t done this, I’d be dead. Truely. Honestly. If I didn’t have a stroke in my sleep, I’d probably have killed myself (or, worse, someone else) in a car accident. There were days I couldn’t even pick up my partner at the train station because I knew I couldn’t keep my eyes open to drive. I used to “sleep” for 10, 12, even 14 hours and still be tired throughout the day.

    Many, many changes have come since then. Slow changes, for sure, but I believe I had sleep apnea even as a child but didn’t know what it was, let alone think that I had it. More than 40 years of sleep deprivation to recover from is no easy task. But now my body temperature is more normal (I don’t have to wear socks to bed in the middle of the summer), my allergies are almost non-existent (fresh air into your nose throughout the night does wonders to clear out the sinuses and stop post nasal drip), and my partner isn’t awakened by tremendous snoring. I feel so much better.

    Lots of people think that only fat people get sleep apnea. My sleep technologist told me that’s a myth. While weight can contribute to it, it isn’t a sole factor and it isn’t always a factor. Many skinny and normal weight people also have sleep apnea but buy into the myth that they can’t have it because they’re not fat.

    Also, sleep apnea can contribute to weight gain. Lack of circulation means the body is busy shutting down areas (why feet and hands are always cold) to keep essential organs functioning, much as in hypothermia. Lethargy leads to more lethargy, which sometimes leads people to not exercise and they gain enough weight that exercise itself becomes difficult. It creates a vicious cycle that is so hard to break.

    Take it from someone who has been there and is ever so grateful for information such as Cindy posted. Diagnosis and proper treatment is a life saver.

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    1. Hi, Claire. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, a lot of people do think it’s a weight issue and it’s not. I know fit people who have sleep apnea.

      It’s scary how tired you can be even when you think you’ve gotten some sleep. I have jerked awake while driving in the past. It’s scary and dangerous. That’s when I started going to bed a little earlier, leaving later for work so I could sleep longer and drinking five cups of tea a day.

      I’m anxious to find out if I have it. I suspect I do.

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  8. Wonderful post, Cindy, and very relevant to my past week, staying with my parents in Montana to caregive after my mother’s surgery. Very little sleep during the entire week as I slept on the couch and of course half-awake listening for “problems”. Returned home last evening and SLEPT 10 HOURS STRAIGHT, so my week should be off to a good start. Another tip about sleeping well: pets in the home will disturb a person’s sleep like having a baby or toddler! LOL but I love ’em all!! Best of luck with your sleep study.

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    1. Good point about the pets, Gayle. We leave our door open and they do sometimes wake us up. Well, they wake me up. Now that the fiancé has the CPAP machine he doesn’t seem to wake up during the night anymore.

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