Friday, August 8, 2008

The Sleep Cycle and Healing from Lyme Disease

Ahhh, sleep...sweet sleep. That wonderful place where you can escape the realities of your life. Be anyone. Do anything.

How many of you wish you were sleeping right now? As I sit here, I visualize the luxury of doing nothing and being in a place of comfort. Ahhh, good old comfy bed and fluffy pillow.

Statistics show that approximately 1 (one) in 8 (eight) or 11.76% or 32 million people in USA have insomnia, as reported by

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of one or more of the following:

*difficulty falling asleep

*waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep

*waking up too early in the morning

*unrefreshing sleep

Here is a link where you can take an insomnia survey. My guess is that the majority of you experience, at least, some insomnia.

As you know, from experiencing Lyme disease or any other chronic illness, insomnia is a very big issue. Once experienced for lengths of time, insomnia can cause symptoms of illness, or worsen the symptoms you may already be experiencing.

Stated on,
"Lyme is a multi system disease, the list of symptoms is long, and it is common to see symptoms affecting multiple systems...Patients with chronic Lyme disease often experience severe headaches, fatigue, pain, insomnia, and memory problems. Chronic Lyme disease can render people completely disabled."

You might imagine that some of those symptoms listed for Lyme may be caused by insomnia issues. Complications with insomnia include:

"Impaired mental functioning. Insomnia can affect concentration and memory, and can affect one's ability to perform daily tasks. Some experts report that deep sleep deprivation impairs the brain's ability to process information. Two to three hours of sleep every night for a week significantly impaired performance and mood. Some studies have reported problems in memorization, although others have found no differences in test scores between people with temporary sleep loss and those with full sleep.

Accidents. Insomnia endangers public safety by contributing to traffic and industrial accidents. Various studies have shown that fatigue plays a major role in automobile and machinery accidents. As many as 100,000 automobile accidents, accounting for 1,500 deaths, are caused by sleepiness. Estimates on fatigue as a cause of automobile crashes range from 1% to 56%, depending on the study.

Mortality Rates. People with insomnia did not have elevated mortality rates, which supported earlier evidence. People who took sleeping pills, however, did have lower survival rates. Insomnia is virtually never lethal except in rare cases, such the genetic disorder called fatal familial insomnia. This rare degenerative brain disease develops in late adulthood. It is progressive and the individual develops intractable insomnia, which eventually becomes fatal.

Stress and depression. Even modest alterations in waking and sleeping patterns can have significant effects on a person's mood. Persistent insomnia may even predict the future development of emotional disorders in some cases. Insomnia increases the activity of the hormones and pathways in the brain that cause stress, and changes in sleeping patterns have been shown to have significant affects on mood. Ongoing insomnia may be a sign of anxiety and depression.

Heart disease. One study reported that people with chronic insomnia had signs of heart and nervous system activity that might put them at risk for heart disease.

Headaches. Headaches that occur during the night or early in the morning may be related to a sleep disorder.

What do you do when you have disruptive insomnia, or insomnia that is causing havoc with your daily life? Well, visiting with your physician and explaining your situation is definitely a good start. However, be careful that the first step is not to be immediately placed on a prescribed sleep aid. Initially, you need to attempt to "reset your clock" on your own.

What are some ways to "reset your clock"?

1. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.

2. Don't eat past 8:00pm.

3. Don't drink a lot of liquid prior to going to bed.

4. Go about the same routine prior to going to be and when you awake in the morning as the body and mind respond well to routine.

5. Don't drink beverages or eat food with caffeine or high sugar content prior to going to bed.

6. Add a light body stretching routine prior to bedtime.

7. Meditate, using the same methods as in last Friday's post, but while laying in bed so that you can drift to sleep.

8. Try not to take extended naps throughout the day. If you need a nap, be sure that it is no longer than 20 minutes.

If this series of 7 (seven) items doesn't help you to regain your sleep routine, see your physician, as you may need a light sleep aide to help you "reset your clock" (in addition to the routine listed above).


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