Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Explaining the “Sleepy”

Many moons ago (see also: six-ish years ago) I started to wake up in the morning feeling completely exhausted.  It didn’t matter if I slept three hours or ten, I still felt really tired. I thought it was just a phase, but it never let up.  Finally, I decided to go see a doctor, who promptly sent me for a sleep study.

Sleep studies are scary. After arriving in the evening and signing in they took me to this lovely room that looked a lot like a hotel room. There was a nice big comfy bed, a large flat screen tv and even a bathroom with a shower.  Oh and there was also cameras in all the corners of the room so they could watch me. Not creepy at all.

Next, a nurse came in and hooked me up to a machine that monitored my brain (?) or something like that. I’m not really even sure.  She hooked electrodes up all over my body with this sort of sticky glue and all the electrodes had wires that lead to a single pack. My legs, arms, feet, hands…..all strung together.  Let me tell you, they made it really easy to sleep. Or not at all.

After explaining the CPAP machine (used by people who have sleep apnea) in case they might need to use it, they left me alone.  The nurses told me to just go to sleep whenever I was ready.  Thankfully, I had limited my sleep the two nights prior to the test to make sure I would be tired enough.  Somehow, even with all the wires and creepy cameras, I fell asleep. 

Next thing I know, there is a nurse waking me up around 7am.  Just what you want on a Saturday morning.  She tells me that I now must do everything in my power to stay awake for the next hour. I watched a bit of a movie I had brought with me.  An hour later, she comes back in and tells me to try to go back to sleep.  Somehow, I do.  Maybe it had something to do with it being so early?  Twenty minutes later she is back again and waking me up telling me I must stay awake for an hour.  This happens three times. The final time she wakes me up I am free to go.  I head home and when I get there I promptly crawl back into bed. J

Fast forward to weeks later.  The doctor reads the report and tells me in the 8 hours of sleep I got at the clinic, only 82 minutes of it was REM sleep. A normal person would have gotten about 6 or 7 hours of REM sleep in that same time period. I have idiopathic hypersomnia. Mayo clinic says that idiopathic hypersomnia is a “sleep disorder in which you're excessively tired during the day, either with or without a long sleep time.” Also good to note?  Idiopathic means they don’t know why it happens and they don’t know how to fix it.  Lucky me.  My doctors only suggestion was to give me Narcolepsy pills to help me stay awake during the day.  At $250 a bottle, are you surprised that I didn’t take her up on it? Caffeine is my only saving grace. Even then, I don't usually drink a lot of it!

So thats my story.  That's where the "sleepy" comes in. Even though it sucks, I have almost gotten used to it.  Most of the time I don't notice how tired I am and I just push through it.  Sometimes I almost seem to have TOO MUCH energy because I am so good at that.

I will leave you with a photo of me during the test....covered in electrodes and wires!

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