Monday, April 4, 2011

Bordering on Wakefulness


I have a terrible time sleeping. Not that this should surprise any of you dear readers, as it’s something I complain about a lot. I’ve had sleep problems, probably sleep disorders, since I was very young. Though I was never treated for it (until recently) I self-diagnosed my own insomnia. All through my teenage years, into college, and periodically still, I’ve had it. Sleeping maybe 1-3 hours a night for weeks on end, then finally crashing for 14-16 hours one day only to repeat the cycle over and over. I’ve been much better than this over the last few years, though certainly not great.
When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m a mess. More of a mess than usual. General fatigue aside; I can feel my mind dragging itself down. My moods shifts, swings more than usual. Concentration is nearly impossible and I slip into daydreams trying to replace the night dreaming I don’t get enough of. My mood is very dependent on sleep. The longer the span of sleep deprivation I have the darker my moods and thoughts begin to get.
I can feel the pressure on the back of my eyes, trying to hold themselves open. My vision distorted by the fatigue I feel. Seeing things differently, especially myself, than I know appear in the real.
Time slips by slowly. The clock ticking endlessly as I wait to for my day to terminate.
My ability to distinguish between the rational and the irrational is obvious. At least it is to me. I can’t help it though. I can’t stop it. All I can do is hope that tonight I find some relief from the restlessness induced by the evening before.
My mind starts roaming and racing, creating scenarios and running away with me. Once my brain starts whirring, working itself up, it’s that much harder to ease myself in a calmer state conducive to restful sleep. I may be physically and mentally exhausted when I lay down, but as soon as I start thinking, my mental activity starts running a marathon and there is no slowing it down.
I love to dream. Dreaming is a wonderful escape for me. Wildly vivid, living a life filled with the fantastic. When I’m sleep deprived, the few hours I do manage to sleep, I seem to be more prone to nightmares. Even in these I’m fascinated by what my subconscious creates, but they only contribute to my fatigue. Causing me to waken frequently. Often in a cold sweat. Heart pounding. Which only makes it more difficult for me to fall back to slumber. Then when my alarm finally sounds I can barely pull myself out of bed. Slipping into deeper depression.
I’ve found very little research done on the correlation between sleep deprivation, insomnia and Borderline Personality Disorder. Most of what I’ve found is pretty typical of anyone that is sleep deprived. Regardless, as someone that doesn’t do it well, I can’t stress the importance of getting an adequate nights rest.

“Sleep disruptions can be a common occurrence for those with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It may be caused by everyday stress, medications, or even the hyper vigilance we’re so predispositioned to. Getting a good night sleep may be easier said than done, but recognizing a problem and discussing it with your treatment provider may help you get some needed relief.”

Since Borderline Personality Disorder is a highly affected mood disorder, anything that impacts emotional regulation is going to be a detriment to the moods in someone with BPD.  Sleep helps humans maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while we are awake by giving rest during sleep to the parts of the brain that control emotions and social interactions.The only small study I did find on BPD and sleep dep reported that "the risk of affective and impulsive personality disorder traits were exacerbated by lack of sleep". I could have told you this with only myself as a test subject. Getting enough sleep is a serious factor with depression in general. Sleep deprivation is one cause of lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin as we all know, is the bodies natural way to encourage feelings of well being. Hence, having a deficit of sleep deprived seratonin production may contribute to greater levels of stress and depression. Sleep studies indicate that BPD is not {necessarily} related to depression but that serotonin studies do point to links with suicidal, aggressive and impulsive behaviors, stress and burnout.
“In tasks requiring judgment, increasingly risky behaviors emerge as the total sleep duration is limited to 5 hours per night. The high cost of an action is seemingly ignored as the sleep-deprived person focuses on limited benefits. These findings can be explained by the fact that metabolism in the prefrontal and parietal associational areas of the brain decrease in individuals deprived of sleep for 24 hours. These areas of the brain are important for judgment, impulse control, attention, and visual association.”
Only in the past few months (5-ish) was I finally able to get some treatment for my insomnia. This is actually one of the main things that brought me to finding my psychiatrist. I was having such a hard time sleeping. I knew how it affected me, so I went to see a regular doctor to see if he could prescribe me something for sleep. Turns out he couldn’t. That was something for a psychiatrist to do. That coupled with the fact that I was having very self-damaging thoughts he recommended I find a psychiatrist immediately (after he asked why I had come to see him instead of going straight to the psych ER).  As I’ve mentioned before, as a supplement to my current medication, I am also given Trazadone. Even this doesn’t always help. I can stay awake through it, continue to wake in the night, and feel completely exhausted when I need to get up. It does help sometimes though and something is certainly better than nothing. I have friends on Trazadone as well, and they seem to have much better results with it than I do, so I imagine I have other mitigating factors contributing to my sleep problems that most people simply don’t have.
Curling up in my big comfy bed, buried under blankets, surrounded by soft pillows, lying there waiting for unconsciousness to take me. I always look forward to trying.


~Random Quote

9 comments:

  1. I am exactly opposite of you. I have never had any problem sleeping, in fact, I actually avoid deep sleep. I am an insanely light sleeper. If you ask me a question while I am asleep I will answer. If I dream, they are always lucid dreams. I have an alarm which wakes me up every hour on the hour because that is just one of my idiosyncrasies.

    I've always wondered if my sleep habits were perhaps a result of my warped brain chemistry. I can snort a gram of coke and still sleep like a baby. Have you tried intense meditation? I know it's an irritating suggestion, but I'm not talking 'imagine the soothing blue light and magical pixies' kind. I like to call it breath play. The use of focus and purposeful breathing techniques is an ancient and effective way of controlling your body through chemistry. But I suppose prescription drugs can do that too, I've just always personally hated the effects.

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  2. I am a light sleeper as well. Everything wakes me up. And I lucid dream as well. If, IF, I can manage to fall asleep. Bleh.

    Not an irritating suggestion at all. I do meditate on occasion, but generally not right before bed. I imagine it would help calm my racing thoughts. That in itself would make it easier to fall asleep. I'll have to try that. Thanks. Do you get your breathing techniques from anywhere in particular?

    (Even Rx drugs don't help me sleep much better. It's ridiculous.)

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  3. I've been dealing with sleep problems my entire life. Recently, I've had a few good night's sleep with 5-HTP and/or tryptophan. They're different. and you need to tell the psych doc about your dosage, especially if you have other drugs that act on serotonin levels.

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  4. @Blammer... I've never heard of 5-HTP. I'll run it through the Google. I don't think my meds act on serotonin, but it's something to to look into. Thanks =)

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  5. You would think that docs could figure out what it is with PD and not sleeping. Almost everyone with a PD or mental illness does not sleep. well does not sleep properly. It would seem to me (who is not a doctor and is mostly talking out my ass) that figuring out why we don't sleep would be helpful in treating PD itself.

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  6. @Maasiyat... I know! Right now it seems like they just treat sleep problems like their own thing. If it works for the normal brain it should work for the abinormal one? Except that logic doesn't work at all. Yeesh.

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  7. I like when my psych says I need better sleep "hygiene." I always envision sanitary napkins in my bed.

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  8. I have such problems sleeping! I recently discovered mindfulness... I don't know if any one else can identify with this, but at night I spend most of the time trying not to think about things and getting more and more anxious and wound up about not thinking about stuff.

    The mindfulness approach is to paraphrase basically ... aww wha the hell, just think about it, its just a thought any way. If my brain wants to jump around like a mad fool thats fine. Its early days but it seems to help just not to try and stop the thoughts. if that makes snese!?

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  9. I do the same thing! I start thinking about something and I can't stop and it starts running somewhere else for me to worry about. Then on top of it, I worry that I'm worrying and I'm worrying that I'm not sleeping because I"m worrying. Haha. What a vicious cycle.

    Just let the thoughts go as they will, don't hold onto them or try to force them... let them work their way out and hopefully out of your head =) I like it.

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Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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