May 21, 2007

A lesson in picking your nap-time

Today I learned a very important lesson about when and when not to take a nap.

I was feeling pretty sleepy, but not overwhelming. Nonetheless I knew nap time was coming so I decided to go lay down rather than fight it for the roughly 20 minutes it would take for the urge to become overwhelming.

As I skipped my lou upstairs, I checked my phone and realized that I would be due for medication in around 15 or minutes so. Normally I nap for 20-30 minutes and for a moment ... an ever so brief moment ... I considered waiting to nap until I had time to take my medication.

For reasons beyond my explanation, I chose not to. I also chose not to set an alarm because
A) my real alarm was packed away and setting the phone alarm would take 30 seconds longer than I had an attention span for
B) My body often wakes me after about 30 - 45 minutes during mid-day naps if has grown accustomed to them.

Unfortunately for me I failed to factor in that I had not been on a consistent nap schedule as of late. About an hour and a half later I woke up, extremely groggy. I laid in bed for a while coming in and out of consciousness. Somewhere I realized I was groggy because my medicine had worn off. I had an hour window to re-medicate before it wore off, and I slept right through it.

Absolutely brilliant.

Fortunately I have nothing doing these days, but I certainly came to the realization that it would have been far better to just puts around for 15 minutes and then medicate and nap. The amount of time I spend napping, how often and how refreshed I feel is directly related to how productive I can be throughout a day.

Oh well, ya live and learn (and in my case then ya nap!)


May 5, 2007

Courtesy of comments left by Emily, I have been introduced to a wonderous new site called

I highly recommend you check it out!! Seriously.

Just be sure to come back too! :)

Apr 5, 2007

One of a Narcoleptic's toughest choices

I wake up this morning ... and by wake-up I of course mean I hear my first alarm at 7:00am, hit snooze every five minutes until 7:25 and then I slowly arise with such dread and difficulty you might think I was getting up to go be executed that day ...

As I stumble to the bathroom, which as we just noted is my version of "waking up", I know that I need to get ready and get out the door by a quarter till 8. Trying to squeeze 30 minutes of getting ready activities into about 15 minutes is no small task and inevitably this flight of a bumblebee will result in a lot of swearing and me being a few minutes late.

While putting my contacts I really start to come to; oh how I love the fresh sting of contact solution in the morning! My eyeballs readjust to the familiar feeling of sight, and as the fog of Narcolepsy lifts I begin cursing myself. It's not the first time I've gone through process this week. It seems that every morning I need to get up by a certain time I inevitably don't, and as I come to this realization I kick myself for not getting up earlier. Today, I know that I won't be back in the room until 2pm so I need time to make sure I have everything for the day and that I get a solid breakfast.

Looking in the mirror however, I realize that miraculously, this morning is one of the few mornings the bed-head monster didn't visit. Granted my shaggy mane is a little flat and matted down ... it's not exactly Pantene Pro V commercial worthy hair, but with a little combing I know that I could get by without showering.

I weigh my options: Do I shower, and have gorgeous hair, or do I eat breakfast? I won't be picking any hot babes up with the hair, but I'd have a full stomach and be prepared for the day.

The decision takes me about .02 seconds. I return to my room, hunt for my trusty blue comb and begin attacking my scalp. As I eat two bowls of Apple Jacks ten minutes later, I know that I totally made the right decision.

Thank God for Deodorant and the wonders a little water and a comb can do to one's hair (okay not much, but my stomach doesn't give a rat's behind about my dome).

And that ladies and gentleman meant that I arrived on time and ready to go this morning.

This occurrence is so rare I think the Mayor is considering canceling all city activities to throw me a town parade this afternoon. I'd be watching Wolf Blitzer on CNN too... A story like this could get really huge really fast! Just don't believe the rumors about my drug abuse and affairs with Marilyn Monroe on Nancy Grace later tonight. I did not have sexual relations with that woman!

Mar 20, 2007

7 signs that you might have Narcolepsy

Afraid you might have Narcolepsy? Well, I'm no sleep doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Okay, that's a lie, but I am Narcoleptic, so here are 7 signs that you should go see a sleep doctor and you should do it quick!

7. You don't remember the last time you woke up feeling refreshed

The body uses sleep as a way to renew your energy supply. Try to remember the last time you woke up and felt refreshed? If you can't remember that is a major red flag. For me, it was the first indication that I had a problem. As it turns out, most Narcoleptics rarely, if ever, wake up feeling refreshed. This is because Narcolepsy is a condition in which the body is unable to regulate a healthy sleep cycle. 

6. You've fallen asleep doing something ridiculous ... like brushing your teeth!

It sounds ridiculous, but it's happened to me. If you wake up so groggy that you can complete tasks without remembering you did them (a symptom called Automatic Behavior), or you can't keep your eyes open while you're getting ready, you may just in fact suffer from Narcolepsy. Once again, it may not be Narcolepsy, but falling asleep while brushing your pearly whites is not something to brush off.

5. If your knees have ever buckled after feeling an exceptionally strong emotion (laughter, surprise, etc.)

One of the hallmark symptoms of Narcolepsy is Cataplexy, in which a person will suffer from temporary muscle weakness, most often occurring in the buckling of knees. People and animals with Cataplexy will actually fall to the ground in a split second without warning. This occurrence is usually associated with intense emotions, such as someone telling a joke, or being surprised. 

4. Your best friend in the morning is a full pot of black coffee

Once again, since a Narcoleptic's sleep cycle is out of whack, we don't wake up feeling refreshed. While many people often wake up in a groggy muddled haze, that feeling eventually fades. For the narcoleptic, this may not be true. In an effort to clear the haze and get going, non-diagnosed Narcoleptics often turn to pumping a stimulant in their body to wake up. I sure did! Before my diagnosis I would chug an entire pot of coffee in about ten minutes every single morning. Understandable, a person may not want to see a doctor based on their morning caffeine dependence alone, however it is another sign on the road to a diagnosis of Narcolepsy.

3. If you've ever woken up "paralyzed"

Another major symptom of Narcolepsy is sleep paralysis. In a normal sleep cycle, a person enters REM sleep, the deepest stage of sleep, after about 90 minutes. During REM sleep we dream, and to prevent us from acting out our dreams, we find ourselves unable to move during this time. Since Narcoleptics have an abnormal cycle we slip into REM almost as soon as we go to sleep and we often wake up from in the middle of a REM cycle. Waking up in the middle of a REM cycle can be scary if the effects of REM paralysis haven't subsided yet. 

2. You can fall asleep on command
During the day, if you feel like you are constantly trying to stay awake and alert, there's a good possibility you have some type of sleeping disorder. While many people stereotypically think Narcolepsy is when you fall asleep randomly, like mid-sentence, this is not really the truth. Narcolepsy is really characterized by feeling sleepy all day. A person won't necessarily fall asleep randomly, they will just fall asleep when they "let themselves". If this statement characterizes you, go see a doctor!

1. You dream during naps

This is actually how most Narcoleptics get officially diagnosed. As I stated earlier, REM sleep or dreaming normally doesn't occur until about 60-90 minutes into the sleep cycle. Thus dreaming during a10-20 minute nap is usually one of the tell-tale signs someone has Narcolepsy. 

If a doctor suspects Narcolepsy he/she will order a sleep study in which  he patient will visit a sleep clinic during the day. While at the clinic, and hooked up to a gazillion wires, they will be instructed to take a 20 minute nap every 90 minutes. During each nap they monitor if the patient fell asleep and what stages of the sleep cycle were experienced. This is done for a total of five naps.

After the whole process, my doctor told me how it worked, and I was shocked that not everyone dreams during their cat naps. I couldn't believe that wasn't normal.

Mar 13, 2007

Sleep Fact #17

The number of accredited sleep centers across the country has tripled in the past decade, from 374 in 1997 to 1,129 today, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Mar 9, 2007

Today's Auditory Hallucination

Just as I was falling asleep, I was thinking about my ex-girlfriend or something and somewhere in that land between asleep and really asleep (Narcoleptics are never really awake, we are just either sleepy, asleep or really asleep ...) I definitely heard a knock on my bedroom door.

I don't know if I was thinking it was her or what, but it brought me back from being asleep to that hazy concious state and I awoke, thinking no way did someone just knock on my door, had to be a hallucination. It was odd, normally if a hallucination occurs my heart is racing and I'm freaking out, or I'll at least have to seriously consider, "Did someone knock? Am I being abducted by aliens or can I go back to sleep?"

But today I woke up and it was so preposterous to me that their could have been a knock on my door I didn't even remotely consider it.

I've woken up and had to consider if there really was a murder in my ex-girlfriend's apartment, a ghost on my stairs at home, that I heard music when every electrical item was off. However, someone knocking on my door ... NOOOOO WAY is that possible! Just laught it off and go back to bed.

Then again maybe I was abducted by aliens and the knock I heard was me being teleported back to my bed. I just hope that I threw off all the data they've been collecting on humans and sleep. :)

Mar 7, 2007

Sleep Fact #18

42 million sleep-aid prescriptions were filled in 2005, a 60-percent increase since 2000, according to Medco Health Solutions, a prescription drug benefit manager. That doesn't include over-the-counter meds.

I find this fact to be especially humorous, since as a Narcoleptic I see 42 million people getting prescriptions to aid them getting to sleep and yet I take a drug to aid me in staying awake! I never did well in a large crowds anyway.... :)