Mental Health Issues and Insomnia (Sleep Hygiene)

DSCF1002My Roommate, Daniel, who is one of the nicest, kindest people I know

     Well, good readers, it is now 3am and for some reason I feel compelled to write about insomnia.  Just about everyone gets it, especially people with mental health issues.  A lot of questions pop up, like is my medication making me sleep too much, should I go on sleeping pills, and on and on.  Personally, I have one pill, called a PRN which basically means I can take it as needed, called Rivotril or Clonazepam.  If I ask for it, I can get a 0.5mg little orange pill and it often relaxes me enough to sleep.  One of the most important things I have to remember though, is that if I don’t get out of bed at a reasonable time, I will have problems sleeping even with the pill.

One of the things I like to do is swim laps and sit in the hot tub at my local fitness facility (thank you Edmonton city government for making these facilities accessible for those with low incomes!)  If I get in enough laps and don’t sleep too much, I find that I am more than ready to get a good sleep in that night.  How much exercise is right?  Hard to say.  I try to get in the pool and do laps until I’m tired, and if I have any energy left over I take off my flippers and swim a few regular laps and even add in push-ups and chair dips afterwords.  Whether or not it helps my sleep to sit in the hot tub is hard to say, I do like to sit in the hot tub for a few minutes before a swim just to get all my joints warmed up to lessen impact on them from going right into an exercise.

Along with my PRN Rivotril, I also have the option of taking a hormone you can get over the counter called Melatonin.  I cleared this with my Doctor and I think the only thing I really have to note about this is that I can’t take it every day.  If I take it too much I find that I get an almost painful restlessness through mostly my spine that often makes it impossible to sleep.  Now and then, when I have taken my pills and it is getting late at night or early in the morning and I can’t sleep I find that sometimes turning upside down in bed or even going downstairs to sack out on the couch helps.

One of my problems is that a lot of my life focuses around laying in bed.  Most Doctors will tell you that all you should do in bed is sleeping and intimacy, but I write letters on my iPad, make phone calls, read, listen to music and many more things that I am sure don’t help.  Another thing that I think doesn’t help my insomnia is that I take naps.  I haven’t discussed this with a Doctor, but I have heard information that I can’t confirm that it is very bad for a person to sleep a little here and a little there.  Sleep can be such a nice experience, as I mentioned before when I take my Prozac in the morning and go back to bed I have the most wonderful dreams and general feeling of well being for a few hours.

So what are the solutions?  I will try to recap.  One would be to get exercise, a good idea for anyone.  Even if you just get out and go for a walk or go up a few flights of stairs it will be beneficial.  The second is medication.  Sometimes I find myself needing Tylenol or Advil or even Gravol or Robaxacet and sometimes cold and flu medication.  These things can help me sleep but I am very concerned about getting dependent on them so I use them only when needed.  It seems I often need Advil just about every day due to headaches, but that is a bit of a different situation.  I have noticed that when I take an Advil I can take a nap and have a very peaceful and happy feeling.  The next step is to try not to nap, then to try not not to lounge around in bed if you can avoid it.  One other thing about staying in bed I should mention is that simply from your orientation against gravity, when you lay in bed too much, especially when you take medications, you can get acid reflux.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid this malady, it can be very painful and disturbing of a person’s natural cycles.  My Mom had acid reflux so bad she required an operation at one point to increase the size of her wind pipe just so she could breathe and eat properly, she had been bedridden for her last five or six years.

So what have we got-use drugs sparingly.  Don’t nap.  Exercise.  Try to fill up your day.  Only sleep in your bed.  Avoid sleep aids that cause dependency.  Getting the right amount of sleep each day is good for your well being, your feeling of healthiness, and almost definitely your moods.  When I pull an all nighter, I often find that my temper gets much shorter than normal and I even get a little paranoid and angry.  There are some good sleep aids out there like Melatonin, I have also had some good results just from taking a multi-vitamin, which, at least in me, seems to keep me from having nightmares, and also by taking what is often labelled stress vitamins which contain some B vitamins among other stuff.  Above all though, these are things that you should clear with your Doctor, I can only speak from my own experiences and everyone’s body chemistry is different.  I hope all of you can have a good rest, and as I say often, Good Night Sweet Princes and Princesses, and may a thousand angels sing thee to thy resting place.  I kind of stole that from Hamlet, the final scene, but still a nice thing to think of when you are on your way off to dreamland.

 IMG_4867One of my favorite things to do, taking pictures in the

park with my favorite person, my Dad

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