Sleepless in Switzerland

Dear 3 a.m. Forgive me for the cheezy blog title, sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Almost every day, during my somewhat stalkerlike troll of internet blogs and websites, I read about the importance of sleep (like this article here).  And how you really, really need to get enough sleep in order to 1) be a bad*ss crossfitter, 2) be a somewhat functional human being in your work and social life.  People rave about the benefits of 8-9 hours of sleep. I hate them. All of them. I don’t discriminate – if you sleep more than 7 hours a night – I am thinking bad thoughts about you right now.

Why? Well, I’m an insomniac. Have been for years! I rarely sleep more than 4 hours a night and when I do sleep, it is not a deep or restful sleep.  Example: last night I went to bed at 11:00 – I woke up at 12, 3 and got up at 5.  This is great for catching up on my Twitter feed and favorite blogs – not so good for activities which require me to leave the house. And certainly not good for my crossfit performance. (And it makes me a cranky b*tch. – ask anyone..or G..he’ll tell you).

This is how I look at work these days!

The internet proposes a lot of solutions: dark,cool room (✓ check!), don’t use your ipad in bed (✓ check! and argh!!), don’t eat late (this I do do because I don’t get home from the gym until 9ish), try not to watch tv before bed (✓ check…some of the time).  I have tried them all to minimal or no success.  I’ve  also tried some sleeping pills, over the counter and prescription. I haven’t tried the really strong ones as I worry about getting addicted to the little buggers and ending up selling my body for change on the mean streets of Geneva…I’m kidding, Geneva doesn’t have any mean streets.

None of it has really worked. I still don’t sleep and I’m still tired all.the.time. So yesterday I had an appointment at a sleep clinic. They confirmed A – yes, I have insomnia and B – sleep is really important. Essentially the appointment breaks down like this – they ask you a million questions about your sleep patterns (my really restless feet were of particular interest as this sometimes causes people to wake up – it doesn’t wake me up but it drives G crazy!) and then they do some basic tests to make sure you don’t have any neurological issues – test your reflexes, ability to track light and then they scrape a wooden stick along the soles of your feet – there is a reason for this, but frankly it just seems mean.

So far, although some might disagree (jerks!), my brain is in pretty good order so the next step is that I will go in a few weeks and sleep at the clinic.  They will hook me up with a sexy helmet with wires and monitor my sleep patterns. This is probably going to be as awkward as it sounds.  Do you think it would be weird if I took a stuffed animal? Probably.  In the meantime, I need to keep a sleep diary and try to change some of the bad habits that have slipped back in.  I’m also supposed to get out of bed if I wake up during the night. Apparently this is so that I will stop associating my bedroom with being awake, uncomfortable and thinking about work.  I wanted to try this last night, but it was really cold in our room and I didn’t want to leave the comfort of my blankees so I ended up staying in bed. On the up side, I did fall back asleep the first 2 times I woke up.  I will try again tonight. My new plan is to have back up blankees and warm clothes stashed around the house. Yeah, I don’t see this getting weird at all.

I’m not really sure what happens after they monitor my sleep patterns but I will keep you posted.

What about you, have you ever had trouble sleeping? If so, what did you do to solve it?

4 Responses to “ Sleepless in Switzerland ”

  1. mera says:

    i normally don’t have problems falling asleep – it’s the staying asleep that is an issue. it’s either a hit or a miss… sometimes i sleep through the night, other times i don’t. when i do sleep through the night, i maybe *just* make it to seven consecutive hours… (actually, to me “sleeping through the night” means not waking up before 7am, and when i do that, i quietly rejoice.)

    usually, however, it’s a miss. i generally wake up between the hours of 3am and 5am and it takes me anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours to fall back asleep. not because i want to, not because my body wants to, but because my mind wakes up and goes from 0 to 100mph in seconds. it’s the worst when i’m stressed out because waking up usually stems from a stess dream, so i not only have to fall back to sleep, but i also have to calm down.

    people make fun of me because i usually take naps during the day. yes, i appreciate a good nap, but it’s more because i need to take them rather than i like to take them. if i haven’t slept well, i can’t function past 4 or 5pm. add in a wod, and everything falls to pieces.

    changing the way i eat does help with the tiredness to an extent, but i still need to have not woken up in the middle of the night for it to be completely effective. and fighting to stay awake all day is a risk – i’ve found that it doesn’t really guarantee an unbroken night’s sleep.

    a couple of things i’ve found to help: 1. to not drink as much after about 8 or 9pm so i don’t have to get up in the night and risk not being able to fall back asleep, and
    2. to also not dwell on the fact that i’m waking up but try to relax back into sleep. once this mind starts going, it’s an involved process to slow it back down.

    • Rae says:

      I hear ya, Mera! I am always waking up multiple times per night and immediately start thinking a 100 mph. The doctor at the sleep clinic suggested that when you wake up in the night and start thinking like that, to actually get up and do something else, i.e. read, listen to music – no computer or tv and only go back to bed when you feel tired enough to sleep. It’s a behavioral modification technique to get your mind to associate bed with sleeping and not with stressing. I did this last night when I woke up at 4, I got up and read business articles. I didn’t go back to sleep, but I also found that I wasn’t as stressed out because I was able to stop the racing thoughts before they got too bad.

  2. jennifer says:

    I used to have issues falling asleep and staying asleep. I’d wake up 10x in the middle of the night just staring at the clock what seemed to be every hour.

    Once I started Crossfit and changing my diet, sleep is never an issue anymore. I get at least 7 hours a night, most nights closer to 8 (sorry!!).

    however, I still get the tired during the day feeling and trying to figure that out.. but solid sleep is rarely an issue.

    • Rae says:

      You are lucky! My worst tired feeling during the day is right after lunch..I usually just want to curl up and have a nap..unfortunately, Switzerland doesn’t have an afternoon siesta period like in Spain.

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