Altered Sleep Patterns and Mental Illness

Things are starting to return to normal for me.  Got my lease renewed, so I get to stay for another year.  The weather is turning warmer and things are really greening up outside.  Spring was slow in getting started but it is certainly here.

And yet my sleep patterns are changing once again.  I’m back to wanting to sleep much of the day now.  I still fight it as I don’t sleep as much as I did during the winter.  But I feel tired more often now and I just want to spend as much time asleep as possible.  I’m still fighting against it by forcing myself to stay awake.  I have found myself falling asleep in front of my computer a couple times as a result.  Maybe I just wasn’t getting quality sleep for the last few weeks when I was sleeping only 6 hours a night.  I do know that getting good sleep can make my mental illness problems less severe.  Maybe I should just sleep as much as I can for the next few days as kind of a reset.  I traditionally have problems with depression, anxiety, and irritability from July until September.  My best and most stable months are usually January to June.  I just don’t do well mentally in hot weather.

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End of 2017

Well, our civilization survived another trip around the mother star.  It was an interesting year to say the least, at least news wise.  For me, it was kind of a quiet year.  Other than one breakdown in the early fall, I have been very stable.  After twenty years of working with schizophrenia, some of the things I have to do to keep stable have become routine.  I have to be more careful than most people about who I associate with and what conversations I take part in.  I have been fortunate to have not had psychotic breakdowns in public.  I’m scared that if I ever did, I’d at very least end up in jail.  So I find myself isolating for much of the time.  It has to be a special occasion before I have guests in my apartment and even then it has to be a small and informal gathering.  Otherwise I couldn’t handle it.

It’s been very cold for the last week and a half.  I haven’t gone out much during this span.  So I have been content to stay home, watch some football, play some computer games, etc.  I have no plans for New Year’s Eve as it’s going to be too cold to go anywhere.  I am starting to get a little tired of always staying home because of the weather.  But it’s supposed to warm up some by the end of this week.

One problem I have faced the last several days is a lack of enthusiasm for much of anything.  It’s not that I am bored, it’s that I really don’t want to do much of anything.  I also now have the problem of not needing much sleep.  I’ve needed only five to six hours of sleep a day for the last two weeks.  I usually sleep from one a.m. to seven a.m. anymore.  But I have been stable enough for the last several months I’ve had some of my medications’ doses reduced.  Maybe that is why I don’t need as much sleep.  But I still can’t explain my lack of enthusiasm or lack of engagement.  I’m feeling unenthusiastic enough that I’m not doing a science and tech year in review post this year.  Besides, it isn’t like I got much of a response from those posts anyway.

I’m ending 2017 alone in my apartment simply because of the weather.  I just don’t want to go anywhere when it’s this cold.  It’s a good day to stay home and stay under the blankets with a cup of hot coffee.

October 20, 2017

Had some workers do some roofing work at my apartment complex today.  So I didn’t get to sleep as much during the day as I normally do.  But it was a beautiful day for that kind of work.  I’m glad it was done before first snow.  Maybe today will help break me of sleeping in the day and being awake at night.

Still staying awake much of the night.  This has to be effecting me more than I realize.  I still get sleep, it’s just when I get it that’s different from everyone else.  I hope this is a phase that will pass before long.  Mentally I’m still stable.  I don’t have many bad days or flare ups.  I still don’t like venturing out on the streets and driving much.  It’s kind of tough just wanting to stay home all the time.  I didn’t use to be this way.  I was always going somewhere as a kid.  I preferred going to friends’ houses instead of having them come to mine.  Now I have to force myself to leave my apartment every day.  Don’t want to get too house bound.

I’m so glad I’m not having bad hallucinations with this current trend of fearing leaving my apartment.  I sometimes hear footsteps that aren’t there in addition to the phone ringing when it’s not.  At this point it’s more annoying then frightening.  I’m glad I’m not dealing with all my past problems in addition to my new ones.

About the only real positive coming out of me staying home more is that I eat less fast food now.  So I am eating healthier and cheaper too.  I am glad I was taught how to cook when I was growing up.  I guess I can find some positives in my current situation.

September 7, 2017

Haven’t been up to much lately.  Still sleeping mostly during the days and spending most of my nights wide awake.  So far it seems to be working.  I’ll have to make a point to be up earlier as the exterminator is coming to spray apartments tomorrow morning.  So I have been spending much of this evening cleaning up my place.  Even though I have been stable mental health wise, I did allow some clutter like dirty clothes and books pile up around the house.  Still have a little more to do.  But I’ll be up much of the night and it’s things I can do without waking the neighbors.

Haven’t been reading as much as I would like to lately.  Maybe the mind needs some time to absorb and process all the new information I’ve been taking in the last several months.  I haven’t even read that many online articles the last few weeks.  But I have always done my best reading in the winters.

I can tell the days are starting to get shorter and cooler.  And I enjoy it.  Won’t be too long until winter is here.  From Christmas until it gets really hot in early July have always been my favorite times of year.  Spring is usually my favorite season.  I even like winter, especially since it’s more socially acceptable to spend a lot of time at home and sleep more during the cold weather.  If I ever leave Nebraska, one thing I will miss is the distinct changes in the seasons.

Haven’t watched that much for TV this week.  I still try to avoid cable news channels as they usually report only bad news and nothing on what’s going well.  But good news doesn’t sell like bad news and mass media certainly isn’t a public service.  I guess what news and TV I do get is mostly internet based anymore.  Like many people I’d feel naked without good internet connections.  Maybe avoiding bad news and rude people are making me more stable than usual.  Sure it kills my social life, but if a person is going to be in a foul mood most of the time then I’m going to avoid that person as much as possible.  I’ve quit jobs in the past because of coworkers and bosses always being negative and angry.  I mean, we’re stuck doing a job together, make the most of it already.

Haven’t heard much from friends either.  But I have been largely avoiding Facebook for over two weeks now.  And I feel quite a bit more calm and relaxed because of it.  It just makes me sad and irritated both to see my friends and family in foul moods in things they really can’t do anything about.  Yes, it is possible to feel sad for someone and irritated with them at the same time.

It’s just been really quiet on my end for the last several weeks.  The insect spray man coming tomorrow is essentially the highlight of my day tomorrow and he’ll be here for only a minute or two.  But I should get the rest of my cleaning finished.  So long.

September 5, 2017

Been several days since I last wrote.  An update is in order.  I’m still sleeping more than I would like.  To see if I can change this around, I’m starting to sleep in a recliner.  When I slept in my recliner because of back pains, I would usually be awake shortly after sunrise and sleep only 6 to 7 hours per night.  As it is now, I have been sleeping 10 to 14 hours a night for much of the summer.  Something has to change.  Mentally I have been feeling well for months.  Since late summers are usually the toughest time of year for me, I have been reluctant to change much this summer.  As good as I have been feeling lately I haven’t wanted to change my meds or routines.  But this sleeping twelve hours a day and being up most of the night can’t be kept up.  My social life is hurting because of it and I haven’t been outside of my hometown all summer.  I have to make some changes.

I think some of my neighbors may be worried about me considering how little I socialize in my complex and how I often sleep during the days.  I try to keep out of peoples’ ways and keep to myself most days lately.  This is a change as I used to be more social than I am now.  I think I don’t socialize much mainly because of the paranoia I still sense when I’m around large groups of people or out in public.  Even though I have much of the depression and hallucinations of schizophrenia taken care of, I still deal with some paranoia and social anxiety.  I haven’t dealt with this level of social anxiety in several years like what I’m dealing with now.  Sometimes I’m even too anxious to run regular errands like buying groceries until I absolutely need to.  Needless to say, this isn’t healthy.  And with winter coming up, I’m just going to have to break out of this anxiety somehow and start buying more than a few days worth of food at a time.  Some winters we can get big blizzards that will shut things down for a couple days.  And of course ice storms also make traveling during the winter tough.  So I think I have no choice but to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and just start stocking up for when the weather turns cold in a couple months.  Fortunately I tend to be more stable in the winter and spring than summer and early autumn.

I haven’t had a regular counselor for several months.  Not because I was upset with my counselor or anything like that.  It’s just that I got stable enough I didn’t think I really needed it.  Mentally I’m stable and have been for months.  I still face some social anxiety and do feel anxious about driving somedays.  That’s the big reason I haven’t left my hometown all summer.

One of the good things about living as an adult with mental illness that I didn’t have in my late teens when this mental illness was just getting started is that I can still keep in contact with people real easy as opposed to twenty years ago.  I may sometimes rant about the abuses that people do with their Facebook and twitter accounts, but they are still good ways to keep in touch with people from my high school, college, and extended family.  I definitely regretted not going to my family reunion this summer, especially since my mother and father were the main hosts.  But the anxiety was that strong.  I know the anxiety exists in my brain and mind but the mind is strong enough that it can make anxiety real enough to be crippling in some cases.  I have friends who have problems with anxiety and depression too.  It breaks my heart that I often can’t do much to help them out other than being a sounding board and listen to them.  I tend to be a problem solver by nature, but sometimes things like depression, anxiety, and mental illness simply don’t have immediate solutions.

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.

Sleep Effects On Mental Illness

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Since the end of the holidays things have slowed down in my life.  I have gotten quite a bit done.  I have also more stable than the last several months.  I attribute this greater stability to not just the end of outside stressors but also on how much sleep I get.

I confess to being a night owl.  Have been my entire life.  Even I need at least seven hours of straight sleep in order to function well.  I can get away with pulling two all nighters in a row and sleeping for maybe five hours in the morning hours every two to three weeks.  But it takes longer to recover than in years past.  A lack of sleep makes me irritable, short tempered, and unable to focus if it goes on for more than a few days.  So to cut this off I’ll reduce caffine, especially after lunch for a couple days.  This helps with falling asleep easier.   It allows me to sleep at times when the normals of the world do.  After a couple days of more consistent sleep I feel like I’m reset.  I can probably do one all nighter every five to seven days without much problem.  But I try to sneak a second one in I’m asking for trouble. Three in a row is asking for problems.  After my grandmother died and my subsequent car wreck, I was pulling two to three all nighters per week.  No wonder I had two breakdowns within three months.  I usually have only one per year, often in late August or early September.

In short, I need sleep.  It takes a toll on my mental stability if I don’t get consistent sleep for more than a few days.  Mental illness can be made more severe without good sleep.  I know mine can be worse when I’m not sleeping well.

 

Sleep Problems And Mental Illness

One of the early warning cues to future mental health problems is changes in sleep patterns.  I’ve been sleeping only five to six hours a night for the last two weeks.  I usually average eight hours a night.  Usually when I sleep too little, eventually I’ll have problems with irritability and anxiety.  When I sleep too much I’ll have problems with depression and lethargy.

While not needing much sleep usually allows me to be more productive, it comes at a price.  In time I’ll become more anxious and easily angered.  After dealing with mental illness problems for almost twenty years, I’ve come to recognize long term trends and problems before they arise.  One way I’m trying to get back into a more even sleep pattern is reducing caffeine.  This is a tough one for me as I love both coffee and black tea.  I also won’t eat at least four hours before bed because, for me, eating anything gives me a boost and makes me stay awake later.

But this time it isn’t the late nights that are the issue.  It’s the early starting mornings.  I have literally been awake before sunrise probably all but two days in the last two weeks.  Not sure what to make of this.  I’m thinking it’s possible that all these years I was convinced I was a night owl was really my caffeine addiction talking.  If I was smarter, I’d go a couple days without any caffeine and see if that resets my sleep patterns.

In short, my sleep patterns have been heavily slanted to not getting much sleep lately.  I can tell it’s starting to take it’s toll.  I’ve been slightly more irritable, anxious, and more short tempered than usual.  It’s time to change this trend before it leads to more serious issues.