This nursy plays dirty and does it with pain...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sleepless at times...

I have been a night shift worker forever.I can tell you that I am a true blue night owl ... my day is most of the people's night and vice versa. I would be vacuuming or baking or doing laundry in the middle of the night when the rest of the family would be asleep. I used to think that I was functioning with only 2 hours of sleep. That was when I was, of course, younger. Thinking back, maybe I just had to make time for everything that was going on in my life. I went back to school and studying full time, raising a young son, managing a spic and span household, "pleasing" a husband and working full time. I guess maybe two hours of sleep was all I can afford and yet I was fine and had enough energy for all of my activities and even managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. Later on when I went on for my ADN (RN degree) I had to talk to myself and made my self-expectations less than the previous years. Expectations such as: a little dust in the house is okay, take out meals once in a while is okay, B grades are okay, etc... That is another story.

After several years of minimal sleep and excessive physical demands, my body had to pay. I had a big time hormonal discrepancies ... my gynecologist called it "hormonal crisis". She blamed my night shift schedule for breaking my circadian rhythm. My hormones malfunctioned caused not only by sleep deprivation but also by stress and poor diet. That is another story I can go through later on. Anyways, now I require a lot more than two hours of sleep and that is my body's call, not my mental judgment. I am gifted in a way that I can do "power naps". I can program myself to sleep just like that and wake up feeling refreshed.

My issue still is that I sometimes have the difficulties getting the much needed sleep. Mentally, I rather do something else but sleep, but my aging body is fighting that thought thus I get into this chaotic sleep pattern. It is very seldom that I sleep through a long period of time ... 4-6 hours maximum is what I get. I am not into taking medicine but have tried the Tylenol PM. The problem is that I am overly sensitive to drugs ... Benadryl 25 mg will knock me out cold for 2 days. I don't feel safe with that, just because I am by myself, nobody to check me if I am still really asleep or has gone permanently bye-bye. In short nobody is here to listen if I am still snoring... hehehe!!!

S L E E P ... is the time for the physical and mental "recharging" of our bodies. The amazing thing though that I read was that our brain is as active in our sleep as when we are awake. No wonder I still have the mental fatigue when I wake up. AMAZING!!! And yet our bodies go through a general decrease in body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and most other bodily functions.

Most experts say that we need at least 8 hours of sleep to go through the 2 cycles of non-REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and REM sleep. Non-REM and REM sleep alternate in 90- to 110-minute cycles. A normal sleep pattern has 4-5 cycles. Think of it as going up and down the stairway or a roller coaster ... that is how the cycle goes.

So what is wrong with me??? Maybe as my gynecologist claimed ... my circadian rhythm was and is out of wack. C I R CA D I A N RHYTHM is also known as the biological clock. A cycle that lasts 24 hours is called circadian. Some physiological functions that are circadian include body temperature and certain hormone secretions. Humans have a natural cycle of approximately the length of one day. Small structures in the brain called suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) coordinate circadian rhythms. The SCN is very sensitive to the presence or absence of light. This may explain why daytime sleep has been found to be less restful than nighttime sleep.

Now I get it!!! Circadian rhythm is not night shift worker friendly. My sleep time is when there is abundance of light thus my SCN is not responding.

I always thought SLEEP is a waste of time but I should know better. Sleep enables the body and mind to rejuvenate, reenergize, and restore. As a person sleeps, it is thought that the brain performs vital housekeeping tasks, such as organizing long-term memory, integrating new information, and repairing and renewing tissue, nerve cells and other biochemicals. Sleep allows the body to rest and the mind to sort out past, present, and future activities and feelings.
Some suggestions for a "good night rest": To maintain a routine for bedtime and wake up time even on week-ends. Have a relaxing "unwinding" routines such as warm bath or warm shower, relaxing music, reading a relaxing book. Provide a sleep conducive environment as in making the room dark, cool or warm, quiet and comfortable. Have a comfortable mattress and pillow(s). Use the bed only for sleep and sex . And have a 2-3 hour gap between meal time and bed time, avoiding caffeine. And of course, exercise.


pinayfl76 said...

This entry is so enlightening and helpful info...sleeping is a luxury for me right now.

Re: about getting good grades while in school, I just had an entry about it today. I'm a little bit frustrated keeping up :(

Steph said...

Hi Eden!

This is Stephanie (Bella's daughter). I know exactly what you mean about sleep problems. In fact, I took a class at Stanford called "Sleep and Dreams" and learned about all that. Yes, I think your night shift may be affecting your sleep cycle. Have you tried sleeping with an eye mask? Try to keep your room really dark, close the curtains etc. I use to have really bad sleep problems (took me a 2 hours to get to sleep sometimes), until I started taking "Mangesium" which is a natural mineral that we don't get enough of, because they're depleted from our American diets. Anyway, it really helped, so you could try that and see how it works.

My mom told me that you are a nurse living at Stanford. I am going to be here for a few weeks in the summer and am trying to find options for summer housing. Do you have any suggestions? You can e-mail me at


NursyE said...

Hello there, Steffi!!! Glad to have you. I might look into that Mangesium? (or Magnesium?). I just need to psyche myself into sleep which I can do if I decide to...hehehe!!!

Well, I was doing registry nursing there at Stanford before. Then I was offered two positions to be a regular staff. I didn't want the long drive so I looked into "commuter room for rent" that my son C told me to. I just couldn't find anything that was close enough or reasonable enough so I turned down the offers. But will look at them again after 13 weeks when I finished my travel nursing contract.

Housing is always cheaper outside the campus if you can share it with a few friends. C stayed at UCSC dorm until half the senior year then to a house with 3 other friends. I think staying in the campus is safer and cheaper in the long run and convenient.And no need to worry about your roommates coming up with their part of the rent... that would definitely give you sleepless nights!!!

You are welcome to come and visit me. C lives in San Bruno and works in Redwood City... just a few steps where you are. He might have more idea on the subject. Let me have him email you if you don't mind.

Belle TH said...

hi E!

i can see my daughter is one step ahead of me as far as leaving comments in your blog. been busy since my return from the trip.

though i don't have sleeping problems, i only get 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night which I think is not enough. i should go to bed earlier. this blogging has been taking up my sleeping time..hehe.

hope you sleep better and thanks for being so nice as always...take care amiga.

nala said...

Thanks E, if you could have him e-mail me about housing ideas/advice, that would be great!

nala said...

Whoops, that was me, Stephanie.

NursyE said...

Thank you beautiful ladies for the visit. Steffi, my son C will be emailing you.He said he would be happy to give you ideas (and that he has, hehehe). He knows the peninsula and the entire Bay Area much more than I do.

To Belle:
I have never been a "sleep" person, always on the go. Like I said, I just need to psyche myself into it to get a good one...

Elyani said...

My 10 y/o niece Linds in S'pore is having a hard time sleeping. She normally sleeps almost midnight time. She just appears to have an energy to keep going and going like the energizer battery. I often giving up asking her to go to bed earlier. She said she's just not feeling sleepy. Is there anything that can be done to make her going to bed earlier like most kids of her age? Telling stories or giving her milk before bed just do not work. What therapy does she need?

La Bee-yotch said...

hi nursye
you might consider trying melatonin to straighten out your sleep rhythms. it's a natural supplement that you can get at any drug store in the vitamin supplements section. my husband and i have used it when we are stressed out and having difficulty sleeping or remaining asleep for a full night. we take 3mg, although you can take anywhere from 1-5 mg without harm. after trying it for several months, we stopped using it, and since then we only have to use it every once in a while. there are no side effects. my sister in law also uses it with her four year old little boy. he used to cry and scream for hours when it was bedtime, but now he takes his melatonin and toddles off to bed and sleeps like a dream. since you work night shift, you might need to take it for longer periods since you are working against the natural circadian rhythm, but if you get regular rest with the melatonin, it may be a lot easier for you. hope this helps.

NursyE said...

La Bee-yotch - thank you for the visit and comment. Actually I have a bottle of Melatonin in my medicine cabinet with my other natural medicines such as St. John's Wort, etc... I just need to get going and start taking it. I had a lengthy discussion with a friend doctor of mine about the subject of sleep who uses Melatonin. He swears that it works.