Monday, December 28, 2009

Madness known as TWILIGHT SLEEP

We get accused by our partner of having a full conversation that probably sounds similar to this.
He- Hey honey, are you ready for bed yet?
She- Well I have to count the dish towels that will be needed by the four baking pans, next to the library and the tree with the shoes that look like butter dishes.
He- Are you sure you're awake?
She- Am sure that parts of my body are functioning as it does when I am wide awake-
But the cognizance of these actions seems slanted, spewed, and even down right mystical in a Harry Potter must be doing something there kind if way.

In fact, if you are on Ambien, Lunestra, or several other medications that are supposed to help you approach sleep, one of the most common side effects is the dodgy reality that usually is part of our dream life, but at this very point, the voices you respond to in your sleep. The actions you've taken as a sleeping person would be that of an awake person, and for some, even driving or walking to locations that are very familiar. In the safest situation, you are already in bed, safely, and likely your own, or at least a familiar secondary bed. You could be alone, or with a person who loves you enough not to video tape your oddness, and post on youtube to be used as evidence against you.

As you feel twilight sleep taking over, you may hear echoes of conversations you've held in the past. It seems logical to respond to these voices because they are directly speaking with you, about something directly relating to something important to you. For several months, when I first tried Ambien, I would keep a journal of all the weird comments that drift through my head. As I close my eyes, listening to the conversation I'm supposed to be part of, I'd nod along, in agreement. When you are in a half dream, half awakened state, it becomes unclear as to which of these worlds is the place where you resign in reality, actuality.

Do you continue a conversation in your head that may be amusing, but not productive? Do you continue a conversation hoping the glimmer of clarity will bring something to you that may help explain your difficulty in sleeping in the first place?

Your body may do rote acts. For instance, it is documented that those new to Ambien often have sleep walking episodes, and at least one case of sleep TV watching. Many have sleep dining experiences. A man in a New Jersey hospital undergoing sleep studies, got up then drove to his favorite coffee shop... read newspapers from dates that were months old... and then went back to the clinic, greeting the nurses as he made it back nonchalantly to his sleep study room. He never believed this was happening in the least, so the hospital produced, not one, not two, but fifteen different sleep studies videos that showed him driving through different areas of town, hitting the cafe drive through, and shuffling through the recycled paper piles to find the "right" ones.

Another side effect of the twilight sleep hypnosis is the lack of memory of the events afterward. During the moment, patients appear to answer questions, and appear to be comprehending. Any surgical unit can tell you stories of having long conversations with patients who are about to undergo full anesthesia. They say that the patients nods, responds, even jokes back and forth with the team. Yet when surgery is completed, only the most rare of patients will recall even the smallest moment of this social interaction.

Those who study the theories of hypnosis, and the Mind-Body connection studies from the Deaconess Hospital have pummeled into this field, find that it need not be a pharmaceutical interruption to the thoughts. How we pattern our self into falling asleep varies form person to person, but it does seem to follow a track into layers of cognizance. Some scientists believe that without the psychotropic meds, each of us has a specified flow of thought pattern that ebbs and weighs along with our conscience consciousness. It is believed that the medications that leap into a deeper part of sleep prior to our natural flow to that area of consciousness is what leads to the unusual side effects. The meds figuratively take us from learning to tie our shoes to putting us on skis in a very short span of time during a brain-based Olympiad.

One doctor suggested I diary the thoughts that were freely flowing during days when I had no Ambien before bed. Then do the same the following week, when I was on the prescription. Although I truly thought the words would come from a deeper place when on the meds, it turns out that I am really a Rubik cube of verbiage, not quite clear which combination makes the most sense. Yet, when not on the same meds, I write rather simple, non life changing commentary.

Facts are that sleep is the least understood body function for many reasons. We don't know why some people need to have 48 minutes of sleep followed by deep sleep, followed by REM, followed by theta, followed by myriad other stages. Some people seem to thrive on meager hours of 3 to 5 hours a night. Others need to have at least, the bare minimum of 10 hours. One thing is agreed upon. We, as a species, have lost our ability to sleep healthy. We just get what we can when we can, and hope its enough.

When it isn't, the side effects we have for our illnesses seem far more intense. The mood swings we battle with depression, PMT, PMS, or even a tooth ache is magnified. Our concentration for small tasks disappears. We may be diagnosed as having ADHD, when really we are just too tired. Perhaps the mood swings are simply the mind battling against the lack of REM. For those of us who sleep only as long as no other sounds exist in the room, fearing that a sound means someone else is injured or hurt. Lack of sleep even magnifies our concern for others as a side effect. Those who grind their teeth in their sleep during twilight time could attest that for some reason, the reasoning seems to make sense to them just at that time.

Is there a medication that does let us sleep, without skipping cycles that apparently are required for a full restful sleep? The pain killers from over-the-counter stores that offer "sleep aids" don't promise a full night sleep. You aren't supposed to take these more than once in 24 hours. Melatonin- a hormone long tauted by the homeopath community, has some merit as a sleep regulator, but other medications or chemicals in our system counter the effect.

As I type tonight, I drift in and out. I took some melatonin. I'm certainly on the edge of giving in to sleep, and I have weird thoughts regarding detective games and my cat snoring. I wonder if anyone reading will tell about their ambien-nesia. Perhaps someone will post about the sleepwalker who murdered his wife. Some will talk about night terrors, or night paralysis. And I hope all of this happens. The more we understand about what happens when we aren't conscience, the better we'll be able to handle the issues that we face when we are wide awake and searching.

Today's questions- What sleep disorders have you faced? Have you tried to use any pharmaceutical assistance? Do you use "herbal" remedies? What do you consider a good night's sleep?