Insomnia

Been having troubles sleeping at night lately.  And not much I do seems to help.  I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, I take my medications right before I traditionally go to bed, and I try avoid being on social media right before I go to sleep.  Yet for the last several days I have been up for most of the night and sleep in the mornings.

I’m still getting eight hours of sleep every day.  It’s when I’m getting that sleep that is a problem.  Since I sleep so much in the mornings and sometimes take an afternoon nap, my social life has dwindled to near non existent.  I still get out a little bit in the afternoons and evenings to check my mail and take out my trash.  But I worry that my neighbors might be getting concerned with how little they see me.  Mentally I still feel stable, it’s just that I’m awake when most people are asleep.  Physically I think I’m doing better.  Having fewer unexplainable aches and pains.

Another thing I have noticed this summer is that I don’t have the appetite I used to.  I don’t eat as much as I used to.  Since I have been having back and knee issues for much of this summer, I have been forced into days with less activity and moving around.  It is bothersome being kind of housebound for a good part of the day.  Maybe this what I get to look forward to in my old age.  But the big advantage of not eating as much is that I think I’ve lost some weight.  I notice that my clothes are fitting better.  A few large shirts I bought several months ago are almost too big now.

I still keep in contact with friends and family quite often.  I have a few friends I chat with a little every day via Facebook.  I’m still active in my science and tech enthusiasts groups.  I still call my parents two to three times a week.  I have the old college friend I talk to at least two to three times per month.  I’m still doing fantasy baseball league.  Hard to believe that summer is almost over.  Even though this has been a long summer, it’s hard to believe that autumn and harvest will be here in four to six weeks.  The corn harvest is always in full force by October 1st.  I’ll have to visit the local farmers’ market this fall.  I missed out on that last year.

Even though I’m up at odd hours and I don’t get out as much as I would like, I still keep my social contacts up.  Like many people of my generation and younger, I’d feel naked without my smart phone and social media accounts.  But I haven’t gotten to taking lots of selfies or pictures of my dinners, at least not yet.  I sleep at odd hours but that hasn’t effected my mental health.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t have a traditional job anymore.  My schedules are more unpredictable now than even five years ago even though I am more mentally stable most of the time.  It’s that one to two percent of bad days that give me the most problems still.

Insomnia and Mental Health

For most of the winter I had the problem of sleeping too much.  I’d sometimes sleep until noon or even later and still be wanting to sleep by midnight.  Now my problem is that I just have a real hard time staying asleep, especially in the overnight hours.  Of course I’m concerned about this.  Sometimes major problems follow large changes in sleep patterns for me.  Getting good sleep is important for controlling mental illness problems.

This has been going on for several days.  One of the changes I made in an attempt to get more consistent sleep is taking my medications earlier in the night.  Sometimes my meds can make me sleepy.  Another thing I have done is cutting back on caffeine after 4pm.  I admit I love my caffeine, especially coffee and soda pop.  But perhaps I’m getting more sensitive to caffeine as I age.  But the cutbacks on caffeine make me less jittery but they aren’t helping me sleep much.

One advantage to sleeping less is I’m getting more done.  I’m spending more time outside.   I’m able to do laundry more often.  I’m keeping less clutter around my apartment.  Some of my habits have improved as I’m drinking more water and bathing twice a day now.  I have always liked taking a hot bath right before bed.  It helps me relax.  And I think I’ve lost a few pounds in the last couple weeks because I’m more active.

I still sleep some in the overnight hours.  I just usually don’t stay asleep for more than two hours at a time.  Since I keep my windows open most of the time anymore, I can hear the birds singing in the early morning hours when I would have been sound asleep in the winter months.

As much as I enjoy being able to get more done and having more energy, I am concerned about the changes in my sleep patterns.  I have traditionally had problems after major changes in sleep patterns.  This concerns me as springs and early summers have traditionally been my happiest times of year.  Spring has always been a favorite season of mine.  I just hope that if any problems do come up because of this insomnia I’ll be able to handle them without having a blow up on my family or friends.

Middle of the Night Ramblings

In addition to a change in the seasons, my routines have been changing too.  I now stay up well into the night but I am sleeping less.  I normally buy groceries in the early morning hours to avoid crowds but I have switched to shopping in the overnight hours.  I have also found good deals on perfectly good but day old deli items this way.  I think people would be sick if we truly knew how much food we in the developed world let go to waste.

Since I’m staying awake later I’m now reading more online articles and getting my youtube fix in the overnight hours too.  I don’t mind the solitude of the overnight hours.  Sometimes, thanks to Facebook, I can strike up short conversations with people from other parts of the world due to groups I’m involved with.  While we in the U.S. are asleep, much of the world is wide awake.  When my cousin lived in Japan, there was a fourteen hour difference between us.  I’d chat with her at 10pm my time and she’d be at noon over in Japan.

I don’t mind the overnight hours.  It gives me more time to read and write.  I sometimes get interrupted during the day hours by phone calls and people knocking on my door.  I normally don’t welcome interruptions, at least not initially.  If it turns out the interruption is a good one, like a phone call from my parents or college friends, I’ll be glad it happened.  I had one such interruption yesterday.  I was taking a nap over the noon hour and my dad called.  Had a good conversation with him.  I welcome such interruptions.  But if it’s someone trying to sell me something, I’ll usually either not answer or just hang up.  I feel bad about just hanging up on people but it’s more polite than yelling at them.

I’m still getting used to being up much of the night and sleeping during the morning hours.  But as backwards as keeping night hours is, it is better than when I was sleeping twelve hours a day during the winter months.  Overall, I have felt quite stable the last several months.  I still have my moments of anxiety and paranoia induced anger, but fortunately I haven’t acted on such impulses for a long time.  I did have a flare up in early February and one last October.  As intense as those were, they lasted only a couple hours.  I just hope I never have problems like those in public.  Most people still don’t understand mental illness or have empathy for it.  Seems to me that mentally ill people are among the last groups of people in society it’s socially acceptable to discriminate against.  But if other groups of people can break down barriers and be more socially accepted, then so can the mentally ill.