Thursday, October 10, 2019

Better Insomnia Advice

        Up all night. Sleep all day. Bitchy all the time.

Personally, I like insomnia. I get stuff done at night.
But I'm not normal, so I have thought about this a lot and come to the conclusion that it's pretty much this simple:

It's not that we can't sleep, we prove we can all day long. We just have major problems when we lie down.
It's simply easier for us to sleep upright in a chair.   At work, or school, or while driving...

We make a lot of mucous and it gets in our sinuses and throats and lungs.
When we lie down, all that goop shifts into positions that restrict our breathing.
When our oxygen level is restricted, our brain stems panic and we are supposed to wake up.

Unfortunately, when we are really sick we do not wake up when sleeping in positions that are not conducive to breathing.  We just sleep fitfully instead.
(This manifested as sleepwalking when I was a child.  About thirty minutes after I was put to bed, I would scream-walk to the couch and pass out sitting next to my mother.  Freudians had a grand old time with that symptom.)

You will not get better if you can't breathe or sleep properly.
So first order of business is clean out your snot before bed.

Then get over the idea that you need to lie down flat to sleep.   It's a fallacy perpetuated by mattress companies to get you to buy more expensive beds that still cause poor sleep.

Sleep on an incline. Your head should be higher than your lungs, and your lungs higher than your hips.  This facilitates cranial drainage and movement of the diaphragm. I just use pillows, not a wedge. There are more positional options that way.
If you're really snotty, you have to sleep with your head on it's side. This allows the top sinus to drain, allowing you to relax somewhat.
Get a super squishy pillow that you can shape to prop your head in the right position, and to put gentle pressure on any problematic facial nerves.
When you're really sick, you should sleep almost sitting up. Don't worry what your spouse or roommates think.
Recliner chairs should probably be prescribed instead of cpap.

Your teeth and gums will keep you awake too.
If you are clenching or grinding, or sleep with your hands touching your cheeks- try soothing your mouth.
I have found a teaspoon of olive oil taken orally before bed works wonders.
It seems to lubricate my mouth and throat and help me breathe and swallow and relaxes my head, and before I know it, it's morning.  If you cannot stand to swallow it, swish and spit it out instead.
I keep a small squirt bottle on my nightstand-  I find that I will not get out of bed when my head is clenched, even if I cannot sleep.   But I can reach out one arm...

If that doesn't work, you can try Chloroseptic spray on your gums, or Anbesol on any suspicious teeth.
(But if that works, you need to visit a dentist.)

Shoulders -
A lot of our pathology affects the neck and thus the shoulder nerves. Make sure you have proper pillows and positioning so your neck and arms are comfortable. If you're on your side, prop up the upper arm so your ribs can expand.

Our intestinal problems mostly manifest as lower back pain. You're probably constipated and need to check your diet.

Dehydration activates the stress response. This is why bathing helps too.

In any case, while you are lying there trying to sleep, think about this... it's the most memorable thing I learned in a decade of research, and I spent a lot of time observing the phenomenon while getting better.