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Sleep, why dost thou leave me? June 12, 2014

Posted by Judy in Musings.

As a parent of many little humans, I’ve been singing this song in my head for years! I haven’t had a decent night of sleep for about 7 years. That’s a loooong time to be sleepy! During the times when whomever was the current infant was sleeping poorly, I would daydream about getting a full night of sleep. Heck, I would’ve been happy with six uninterrupted hours! Eight hours seemed like it would be heaven!

The Little Boss was hands down, the worst sleeper on. the. planet! I spent months being so, so tired and thinking he had it out for me. Imagine my shock when, after being insta-weaned, he started sleeping through the night! Clearly, that boy had played us! Now I could see that a full night of sleep was within my grasp. Granted, the whole “YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER” was screaming away at me, sometimes making my nights less than restful, but I had hope that eight hours of uninterrupted sleep were just around the corner.

Imagine my surprise, when I woke up for the first time, EIGHT hours after having gone to sleep the night before. I was surprised because, well, my sleep hadn’t been interrupted. But also surprised because I didn’t feel rested. Not. one. bit. In my daydreams, I had imagined myself posting something euphoric on Facebook: I slept for 8 hours. With no interruptions! I’m a new woman! I had imagined the heavens opening and a chorus of angels singing, “AHHHH!” I had not imagined feeling like I hadn’t gotten any sleep. I had not imagined wishing that I could crawl back under the covers and sleep some more. To say that I was disappointed is an understatement. I consoled myself with the fact that years of sleep deprivation weren’t going to be resolved with one night of good sleep.

Since that night, I’ve had a good share of uninterrupted nights, but not as many as I would like. For various reasons, I either struggle to fall asleep – which is nuts because heretofore, I was always so exhausted that I would be asleep when my head hit the pillow – or I toss and turn and wake up numerous times. Neither of these made for restful sleep. After mentioning it to the oncologist, he said, “Oh, you need your sleep. You have enough on your plate and you need to be rested to deal with it.”, and then he prescribed Ambien. I’m not really a huge fan of taking medications, but when I’m getting pumped full of straight up poison, most other meds seem like child’s play, and so I take them.

I recall seeing commercials for Ambien a few years back. The people taking the meds looked so peaceful. They fell asleep so calmly and woke up just joyous. I’m here to tell you, Ambien is a wicked med and those commercials were less-than-accurate! Yeah, it works to help you sleep. I would, however, argue that being rendered unconscious and actually sleeping are two different things! I’ve taken the medicine about four or five times. I generally take it an hour before I want to go to sleep. Roughly 45ish minutes after taking the med, I feel like I”ve been hit with a mack truck saying “You must sleep, NOW!” Seriously. It’s like my eyes just don’t want to stay open. Not only that, my body just stops functioning. The other night, I was looking for a book in the bookcase when the truck hit me. I had to hold on to the bookcase to keep from falling over. Previous experience told me that I had very little time to actually get in bed before falling apart. I stumbled up the steps and DH was like “Uh, are you okay?” “Yeah, just took Ambien so I should go to bed.” He escorted me to the room, pulled back the covers and I collapsed into bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

As if that wasn’t nutso enough, I took the med again last night. According to DH, (and I say according because I have NO MEMORY of this at all, which is creepy) I was walking all drunken and he asked if I’d taken Ambien. After my affirmative reply, he shepherded me towards bed. Apparently, I brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom, changed into my pajamas and got in bed, falling asleep immediately. Have I mentioned that I have no memory of this whatsoever? I mean, it’s great that I’m falling asleep so easily and all. I’m not sure I like the memory loss and “total inability to walk in a straight line” thing. In addition, I still toss and turn a bunch, so it’s not totally effective.

So, maybe I’ll just keep the medicine around for emergencies!!


1. Art Robertson - June 13, 2014

You are right. If you look at the science (not the ads), there is little evidence that being rendered unconscious by a sleep medicine results in your being more rested (as measured by improved performance) in the morning.

Rather than “keep the medicine around for emergencies,” you might want to throw it out to prevent an emergency!

At any rate, here’s hoping that you can accumulate some good natural restful sleep.


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