Tag Archives: Sleep

What Would It Take for Me to Be in Optimal Physical Health?

Yesterday marked one year since the start of my weight loss journey. At the time, I’d set myself a goal of having a BMI under 30 in a year, which would mean I’d lost approximately 10kg. Well, I reached that goal last January, maintained it for a few months and gained weight again this past month. I’m now almost where I was last December. I need to lose 2kg to be at a BMI under 30.

I originally intended to write a post about my weight loss attempts and how I’d been doing. That got rather boring. I didn’t reach my goal, but I got close. As my husband says, I got an 80% on my weight loss exam.

Rather than boring you with my weight loss stats, I want to write about my physical health as a whole. I picked up the 24-day whole health journaling challenge from Mari L. McCarthy again. I started this challenge several years ago, but never finished it. One of the exercises at the beginning of the challenge is to write out what comes to mind when you think of your ideal physical well-being or balance. Here goes.

If I’m in optimal physical health, I’ll wake up rested each morning after sleeping eight to nine hours a night. This means I’ll have a good quality of sleep, which also hopefully means I won’t snore anymore. I won’t sleep during the day and will not sleep more than ten hours on the week-end.

I’ll eat a balanced diet. I am allowed to enjoy salty snacks or sweets once in a while, but mostly will snack on vegetables and fruits. I will drink at least two liters of water each day. If needed, I’ll take my Metamucil for constipation, but I hope to manage that with diet and exercise. I will find out what foods trigger my irritable bowel syndrome. As a result, I’ll not feel bloated or get bowel cramsp anymore. I will also not get acid reflux anymore. I can manage this with medication, but I’ll also practise slower eating.

Once in optimal health, I am able to walk for 5km without getting exhausted. I will reach my Fitbit’s recommended daily step goal (10,000 steps) a few times a week through regular walks and other exercise. I will go on the elliptical for at least 25 minutes five days a week. I’ll also do weight lifting exercises three days a week. I’ll steadily increase my weight bearing ability.

In summary, to reach optimal physical health, I’ll eat healthfully, exercise regularly and practise good sleep habits. This will help me feel energized and fit and lessen my physical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and reflux.

Z – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcome to the last day in the #AtoZChalleng eon mental health, dedicated to the letter Z. I am just in time to publish my post, as I was at my parents’ two hours way all day. I did take my computer, so don’t worry, this post was not my reason to leave. Anyway, today’s words are all on a common theme. Here goes.

Z-Drugs

Z-drugs are a few medications, most of whose generic names start with Z, eg. zaleplon, zopiclone and zolpidem. Besides the letter they start with, they have in common that they work similarly to benzodiazapines but are not benzos. There are three subgroups of Z-drugs, all of which are GABAA agonists, meaning they increase the availability of this neurotransmitter. Z-drugs are used in the treatment of insomnia. Some have advantages over benzdiazepine sleeping pills.

Zombie

Many psychiatric patients, especially those on long-term units, seem a bit zombielike to outsiders. I discussed this when discussing lethargy in my letter L post too. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders may cause people to act like “zombies”, but so do many psychiatric medications, including antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications and certain antidepressants.

ZZZ

Last year, I discussed sleep in my post on the letter Z for ZZZ. To finish off this year’s challenge, I am going to discuss the same topic. Sleep disorders are common among people with mental illness and of course can be a mental illness themselves.

There are two forms of sleep disorders. Dyssomnias are disorders in the quantity, quality or timing of sleep, such as insomnia or hypersomnia. Parasomnias are characterized by unusual physiological or behavioral events that limit sleep, interfere with certain stages of sleep or with the transition from sleeping to waking. Sleepwalking is an example of a parasomnia.

Like I said, sleep disorders can occur on their own but can also be part of another mental illness. For example, many people with clinical depression experience insomnia, usually waking up way too early in the morning. Some people with depression conversely experience hypersoomnia, sleeping far too much.

A Day in the Life of My New, Healthy Self

I started in a whole health journaling challenge on April 1. Unfortunately, due to fatigue and depressed moods setting in this week, I’ve not been able to do much of it. I finished the third journaling exercise, which has me envisioning a day as my new, healthy self. It was quite inspiring. Here is what I wrote.

I get up in the morning at 7 or 8AM. I shower, get dressed and have a healthy breakfast of yoghurt with muesli or a breakfast smoothie. I take my medication and brush my teeth. I may go to day activities to do snoezelen, swimming or go for a walk. Day activities will help me find companionship. I go on the elliptical trainer in the morning while listening to upbeat music.

For lunch, I have some bread. I may have another smoothie or some fruit. In the afternoon, I journal and go on the Internet for blogging and reading blogs and Facebook. When I live with my husband or if I have WiFi while in the institution, I watch some old TV online. I may go for a walk. Most importantly, I don’t sleep in the afternoon.

I meditate or pray in the afternoon too and read my Bible. I do some yoga in the afternoon as well. Either this will be the sun salutation I learned from my activity staff or I will hopefully learn some new series of poses.</P

In the evening, I eat a healthy meal. While still in the institution, I try to eat a bit of everything served. (I obviusly do the same when my husband cooks, but he usually cooks meals I like.)

I don’t sleep in the evening either. Instead, I go online, read a magazine or book. I go to bed at 10PM. I brush my teeth again before bedtime.

As you can see, I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll achieve this new, healthy state of mine while still in the institution or once I live with my husband. INitially, after writing this entry, I was completely motivated to start right then and there. I wrote my entry in the afternoon, so I decided to try a bit of everything served for supper that day. I have been doing well in this department – the only thing I skipped this week were mashed potatoes. I also did well in having healthy breakfasts each day. I also went on the elliptical a few times, though not in the mornings.

However, I’ve not been doing well in the sleeping department. I slept during the day almost each day and some nights have been pretty much sleepless. I also still need to get into the habit of brushing my teeth twice a day. My spiritual self-care is a mixed bag: I did yoga and meditation a few times but didn’t read the Bible or pray.

My biggest hurdle so far is to get into a healthy circadian rhythm. I think getting myself out of bed may give me energy rather than the other way around, but I’m not 100% convinced. I need to try this at least.

Small Victories Sunday Linkup

A Letter to My Body

Dear body,

I am sorry. I have not been taking good care of you lately. I have not been exercising regularly, have been binge eating a lot and have slept at all the wrong moments and been awake at night.

Of course, I could blame my eating disorder and see it as something entirely separate from myself. I could blame the holiday season. I could blame the winter blues (or general blues, since I’m not sure if it’s seasonal at all) for my laziness regarding exercise, my increase in binge eating and my poor sleeping habits. Then again, that’d be avoiding my responsibility.

Sometimes, I feel as though you don’t deserve to be taken care of. I feel you’re ugly, fat and unheathy anyway. You’re fat, but at least my husband doesn’t consider you ugly and you could be a lot less healthy than you are.

Besides, right now I don’t have as poor an image of you as I had before. I like my skin feeling softer when I apply shower cream, then scrub it, then apply body butter. I particularly even like my belly, which is the part you seem to be storing most of your fat.

I want you to know there’s nothing you did to deserve me stuffing you with binge food and depriving you of the exercise and sleep you need. I’m stressed, but you didn’t cause me to be stressed. I’m slightly depressed, but you didn’t cause me to be depressed.

So I want to thank you for being relatively healthy while I don’t take as good care of you as I should. All your major functions (except for vision of course) are intact. You keep your vitamin and mineral levels okay. You haven’t developed diseases like diabetes or heart disease in spite of your obesity, caused by my lack of proper care. You are okay.

As I said, I could look at your negative attributes: your not being as fit as I’d like you to be, your causing me acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and random pains and aches. Then again, whether it’s you causing me these problems or me causing you these problems, could be debated. The thing is, I can’t change your functions without taking better care of you first.

As dialectical behavior therapy also teaches, I can’t change you witout accepting you as you are first. You are okay as you are. Now I can work on improving you.

Yours,
Astrid

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Mom's Small Victories

Mood #WotW

The past few weeks have been rather hectic. I started out last week in a creative, elated and slightly impulsive mood. I spent days and nights finally reading a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while. I hardly slept at all. Needless to say, after four or five days of this mood, I was exhausted and crashed. I spent some days in bed being a bit depressed and not having much energy for anything.

Then on Tuesday I had an utter meltdown and started spiraling down into crisis. I wanted to quit my antipsychotic because, I believed, it made me dull. At that point, however, I was quite irritable. I ended up self-injuring on early Friday morning after a sleepless night. At that point, I realized this pattern of mood lability is very common for me, repeating itself roughly once a month.

I had asked the staff to schedule an appointment with my psych doctor because of my wanting to quit my antipsychotic. However, between me asking to get an appointmnet and the actual appointment, I had this realization I described above. I decided to discuss this with my doctor and she suggested I enlist the help of my named nurse in adapting my crisis prevention plan to acknowledge this longer-lasting pattern. The current version has it look like I melt down out of the blue. She also suggested I may’ve done just a little too much during that four to five days of increased productivity. Many people with mood disorders and borderline personality disorder cope with their affective lability by acting opposite to how they feel. For example, when depressed, they drag themselves out of bed and do something. When they feel elated, on the other hand, it’s time to wind down.

Because I also have a very poor sleep/wake cycle, the doctor suggested I try a sleeping pill for a bit to help me get to sleep at night. Of course, this means I do need to stay up during the day as well. I have now gotten Restoril, a benzodiazepine sleeping pill, as-needed for a week, to be evaluated next week. I tend to develop tolerance to benzos very rapidly. To get me back in sync, I agreed with my named nurse that I’d be taking the medication for three nights and see how I do on Monday. Last night, I got okay but not great sleep.

I hope I will be back to stable soon. I hope this state of stable means I still have some of the creativity I have during my elated moments.

Because I am not too inspired to blog lately, I decided to participate in Word of the Week again. I contemplated for a bit what word to choose for this week, and I’m settling on “mood”. After all, this refers to my affective lability as well as my realization of it.

The Reading Residence
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ZZZ: Sleep Problems in Autistic People #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the last day in the A to Z Challenge on autism. In all honesty, I’m glad the challenge is over because it’s been exhausting to try to write each post and comment on other bloggers and all. Today’s post is themed appropriately for this sentiment: titled “ZZZ”, it’s all about sleep and sleep problems in autistic people.

Sleep problems are common in autistic people. Some studies estimate that as many as 80% of children with autism spectrum disorders have sleep problems. The most common problems in autistic children are difficulty falling asleep and awakening often.

There are many possible causes for sleep probls in children and adults with autism. Some early research shows that autistics show abnormalities in brain structures related to sleep. Research is also underway on autistic people’s levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and other chemicals released by the brain that are known for their function in regulating sleep.

Behavioral issues which contribute to sleep problems in autistics include poor sleep hygiene and problems with limit-setting. For exampe, a person may have difficulty stopping engagement in day activities. This could be because these acitivites are the person’s special interest, but it could also be that the person has trouble shifting from one type of activity (eg. gaming) to a very different activity (preparing for and going to bed). Of course, just like neurotypical people, autistic people suffer increased sleep difficulties when they’ve been engaging with electronic devices shortly before going to bed.

Some medical issues that are more common in autistic people can also cause sleep problems. These conditions include epilepsy and gastroesophageal reflux. Lastly, medications that are used for treating behavioral problems in autism, such as stimulants, can cause sleep problems too.

There are many ways in which an autistic person can improve their sleep or a parent can help their autistic child do so. For example, establishing a good bedtime routine and a healthy sleep environment can help. To be a good sleep environment, a bedroom needs to be quiet, cool and dark. For children and adults with sensory issues, this may be especially important. On the other hand, some people may actually benefit from listening to calming music while falling asleep.

Daytime behavior can also help establish healthy sleep. Exercise is good, but not too close before bedtime. Obviously, caffeine causes sleep problems. Lastly, naps are good for preschoolers but not older children. Avoid allowing your preschool child to nap late in the afternoon.

Night #WotW

It’s another sleepless night. Tonight, I’m thinking over whether to transfer the two domains I own, which are both registered with different providers, to one. A third one, that is, because both of my current providers have problems. The one I use for this blog is fine as long as I don’t need to change anything, but it requires a shitload of information if you haven’t memorized your password and you do want to make changes.

The one I use for my E-mail, I just came up with like four reasons to transfer it:


  1. I don’t need 7500MB of space and 75GB of data for just my E-mail and I don’t want to pay for it either. While the hosting isn’t terribly expensive for what they offer, the 7500MB/75GB package is their only product. I could pay a third of the price for a small package at where I want to move to.

  2. Either they or I screwed up the control panel. Not that I did anything to it, but half of the functions that are supposed to be in there, including installing applications, are hidden far away. Their application installer is rather unusual too, so I keep getting errors when trying to install apps. Could be because I’ve been playing with apps through FTP (because again the installer wouldn’t work) when I still used FTP. Which, by the way, I won’t be using again unless anyone can recommend a good FTP client that isn’t loaded with junkware. I just screwed up my computer with a used-to-be-trusted client. But I digress. The hosting provider I want to move to, has INstallatron as their installer, which is basically standard stuff. So if I want to build a site anyway, I could.

  3. I keep getting certification errors when trying to log in to DirectAdmin. This could be normal, but I don’t trust this.

  4. Most importantly for my current usage of this package, I hate their extensive spam filter. It’s a spam filter that sits before the server, so you don’t get to even see your spam messages if you want to. This has led to E-mail from several forums and social networking sites not getting through. I could disalble the thing as it isn’t a standard feature, but their basic spam filter is really hard to work. I don’t know of course whether another provider has a better spam filter. What I’d look for is something where you can just click a button on an E-mail message to mark it as spam and it learns this way.

Then this whole thought led me to thinking of self-hosting my blog too. I don’t know whether that’d be much harder than working WordPress.com, and in fact I have some experience self-hosting a blog that went pretty smoothly (though no-one ever visited and I only had it for like a week or two). Both the good thing and the bad thing is that it allows for more customization. It’s good because, if it works, I can set up more functionality and usability. It’s bad because, if it doesn’t work, I might (or more likely will) just screw up my blog. At least this way I will avoid getting “you should self-host” as an answer to all my WordPress questions in blogging groups. As a side note, even if I don’t end up choosing to self-host, I may want to move my domain name because at my current provider I pay like E22,50 a year whereas it’s E7,99 elsewhere.

I don’t know why these thoughts keep me awake. Last Wednesday, it was trying to find a good private journaling site after all software I tried, even the one that could’ve been great, failed to meet my expectations. I haven’t yet made up my mind on that one.

Technology isn’t the only thing keeping me up at night. Another thing is just a terribly melancholic mood. This evening, I joined some Dutch preemie parent groups. The members have been very supportive, but I keep rewriting my words just to make sure I don’t sound like I’m bashing my parents. Apparently I did with last Monday’s post. After writing that one, I also couldn’t sleep much at all.

As a result of both the technological and emotional navel-gazing, my circadian rythm has been pretty non-circadian lately. I end up sleeping at the weirdest of moments and at least staying up most nights. I am therefore choosing “night” as my word of the week.

The Reading Residence

Sleep Strategies for People with Autism or ADHD

For as long s I can remember, I’ve had skewy sleep patterns. I either slept too little, too much, at the wrong time, or didn’t feel refreshed during the day. Sleep problems are pretty common in people with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism or ADHD. It is not fully understood why autistic and ADHD people have sleep problems, but there may be several reasons, such as fear of going to sleep (due to for example fear of the unknown) and difficulty breaking out of routines. I for one have a terrible time switching from one activity to another, and that includes shifting from waking to sleeping and vice versa. For people who have ADHD, both its symptoms and the medication taken for it may also keep you awake.

There are many strategies for people with autism or ADHD to use in order to get a better sleep/wake cycle and more refreshing sleep. on the World of Psychology blog, Margarita Tartakovsky lists some strategies for adults with ADHD, many of which can also be used by autistics. For example, it is important for autistics to realize the importance of sleep too. It may be useful to have someone create a social story for you to learn why and when to sleep. If it’s possible, create a separate sleeping space. Use your bedroom only for sleeping or, if that’s not possible, at least don’t take your electronics to bed.

Sensory issues may also be a factor in difficulty sleeping. Tartakossky suggests using noise-canceling tools for sleep, but some people can’t sleep without sound. For them, it may be useful to listen to music while in bed. Maybe a plain and simple MP3 player is best rather than your smartphone, on which you can be tempted to chck Facebook rather than just listen to music while falling asleep. In addition to sound, consider smell and light in creating a comfortable sleeping space. Again, some people like a certain smell, such as lavender, in their bedrooms, while others hate any smell. Some people, even adults, need a small light on while sleeping, while others need complete darkness. It may be hard to know whicch level of sensory stimulation is most comfortable to you, so it may take some experimenting. That’s okay. You can’t get a proper sleep/wake cycle in just one night.

New Psychiatrist

I spoke to my new psychiatrist for the first time today. He was assigned to me because the old one is too busy and needed to decrease her caseload. At first I was pretty pissed that I’d been assigned a new psychiatrist without prior notice – I only found out when I asked my old one a question about medication. Then on Monday I heard from a nurse that the new one’s Dutch is pretty poor, so I was like: how in the world does someone who doesn’t speak a country’s primary language earn a doctorate?

Fortunately, the psychiatrist’s Dutch is better than I expected. He uses a lot of medical jargon and sometiems has trouble coming up with the right lay term. In that sense it’s good that I studied college-level psychology.

I can’t remember all that he said. My question was for a review of my PRN medication and maybe my antipsychotic. In the end, nothign was changed. He explained about the PRN meds that even with effective drugs, 50% of effectiveness is still placebo. That made it understandable that I don’t notice much effect even from the non-addictive promethazine (Phenergan) after a while. He asked which drugs I’d tried before, and I mentioned having been on most benzodiazepines. For a while, he contemplated prescribing a very low dose of Seroquel XR for sedation, but when I said I was already sleeping a lot, he decided against this. In the end, he advised against meds but recommended I exercise more, sleep less and get a better day-to-day structure. I’m not too sure this will work but it appeals to me. I am not too much in favor of tranquilization, especially since it’s usually the first thing a nurse will suggest when I’m irritable even when other strategies work better. Maybe I’d have had a different attitude had my experience with tranquilizers been positive.

Meme: 30 Things About My Invisible Illness

I found this interesting meme for invisible illness week, so here goes.

1. The illness I live with is: undiagnosed other than mental illness (borderline personality disorder).
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: not diagnosed for my physical symptoms. Diagnosed with BPD in 2013.
3. But I had symptoms since: 2007.
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: taking meds everyday.
5. Most people assume: my illness is unreal because it’s not diagnosed.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: waking up tired.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: House.
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: my mobile Internet modem.
9. The hardest part about nights are: going to sleep on time, pain.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please): 6.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have not tried them but am open to some.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: visible.
13. Regarding working and career: I don’t work, have never worked. I was given disability benefits with no problem based on my visible disability which is the least of my disabilities.
14. People would be surprised to know: that I’m in pain even when I don’t show it.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: that I can’t live with my husband.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: take a university-level course.
17. The commercials about my illness: I’ve never seen/heard any.
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: go for long walks alone.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: my dreams.
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: crafting.
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: have a great day with my husband.
22. My illness has taught me: all about stigma.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: “It’s just stress.”
24. But I love it when people: genuinely ask how I am.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: well I’ve not been diagnosed with anythign yet except for the BPD which I was just diagnosed with, so I’d like to be on the receiving end of some advice first.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: how cruel people can be about judging who is really ill and who isn’t.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: allowing me to whine for a bit.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I want to teach people about undiagnosed illnesses and mental illness.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: appreciated.