Wednesday, June 3, 2009

restless mind

Undoubtedly, the subject of insomnia is bound to come up at some point while one is in nursing school. It may be covered in psych class. It may even come up when reading about the nervous system while studying anatomy and physiology. Classmates may just proclaim they're experiencing many nights where they find themselves unable to sleep, unable to relax even.

Insomnia by itself is not a medical condition. It is a symptom caused by a myriad of possible diseases or disorders. When an individual experiences inability to fall asleep or wakes up during the night and is unable to return to a restful slumber they are experiencing insomnia.

It only makes sense that insomnia will intrude upon a person's sleep pattern when that person is experiencing high levels of stress. Stress, as well as anxiety are major causes of insomnia. Any nursing student can attest to the fact that nursing school equates to exorbitant levels of stress and anxiety.

Other factors induce episodes of insomnia. Sleeping in the same room with an individual who suffers from sleep apnea can cause disruptions for the unaffected partner. Seasonal changes, such as those causing hay fever, may awaken one during the night rendering them uncomfortable enough to fall back asleep. Everyday concerns might make it hard to fall asleep, or to get back to sleep after awakening.

Most nursing students lead lives more complicated than the role of nursing student defines them as. Many are parents, many work, and some have both familial and work obligations on top of the need to study for endless hours for that fluids and elctrolytes exam. Whatever the obligations, it all piles up and can lead to many a restless night.

I do not work outside of the home; however, plentiful responsibilites within beckon my name. I am the nursing student who sleeps with Darth Vader, aka Big B, the man with sleep apnea. If you've ever heard a CPAP machine you understand where I'm coming from. I also occasionally awaken because of allergy symptoms. There are many nights I have trouble falling asleep because a million and one thoughts are racing through my mind.

Just last night I awakened in the wee hours of the morning and those very thoughts inhibited my return to dreamland. In fact, that episode of insomnia is the catalyst for this post.

My episodes of insomnia are mainly anxiety related, if you hadn't figured that out by now. Big B asked me the other day why I don't ask to be put on something like Ambien. It's a good question. I do take diphenhydramine periodically.

The other night I woke up hot, and sweaty. It occured to me that it might be night sweats. For a woman my age that right there is enough to cause anxiety. It very well could be I am perimenopausal. Just skimming through information on perimenopause I see that I am riddled with a lot of the classic signs and symptoms.

Just wonderful. If nothing else that will keep me up at night. I guess I have plenty to talk to the OBGYN I'm seeing on the 15th about.


andrea said...

I used to have really bad anxiety and consequent sleepless nights but my shrink sent me to a stress management workshop where another dr taught us relaxation techniques and sleep improvement tips. One of them was telling yourself throughout the day that you will have a good nights rest, envisioning what that would look like and feel like for you. I remember him also telling us "Bed is for vacation," and if you're not sleeping, you're thinking, you don't belong in bed yet. Just thought I'd share what has helped me; I'm sure it's nothing new but I just want you to know it's okay and we pretty much all go through it to some extent. Don't worry so much, especially when its time for sleep, difficult as that may be. It's a big part of getting better. It's funny, right now I feel tension in my body at night , not because of stress but because of like not enough activity or stimulation during the day. Haha, I wanted time off and now I can't enjoy it because it's boring :)

Lorie said...

My hyperthyroidism gives me insomnia a lot!! Lately I have been so tired at night that I only get up once or twice instead of 5 or 6 lol... as for the pre-menopause... let's just say I keep a fan and a room thermometer on my bedside table so when I get a hot flash I can see what the temp actually is and then turn on my fan if needed lol.... good luck!

Prisca: said...

Oh man, I used to have the worst anxiety before clinicals and barely slept. It was AWFUL! It does get better, I promise.