Friday, April 22, 2011

Hey! Wake UP!

After yesterdays post, which i really enjoyed writing by the way, today's post is a little off topic.

It has nothing to do with running.  or mothering.  or nursing school.  or ethics professors who suck.

But I had some news to share, and I decided it couldn't wait.

About a month ago, I fired my insomnia.

Yea, seriously.  And, since there are people out there who suffer from this wretchedness, I thought, I ought to share what I changed in my life to eliminate it.  First a little history, so you can appreciate what kind I had ~ incase it's the kind you have ~ because there are several kinds of insomnia.  I had the kind where you wake in the middle of the night and watch the clock count down while freaking out that you only have "3 more hours.... 2 more hours... 1 more hour..."

When I was 18 I was "liberated" from my parents house.  I had come to believe that I was "too dumb for college" and that I would never be successful at it, so I took a few random jobs here and there to pay rent at a place I shared with a few friends.  It was fun, but it was stressful.  I never knew how the rent was going to get paid, and from month to month the roommates changed out on a regular basis.  Over the course of several months I lived with a college girl, a Drag Queen Beauty Pageant winner ("Miss Gay MD"), a woman who's husband was deployed overseas, a girl who was clinically depressed, and my brother's girlfriend.

The hours we kept were pretty wild.  Out until 2am most nights, and up by 5am to feed the horses.  I was grooming for a fantastic horse trainer who taught me a freaking lot about horses, and every day I got a 2 hour break in the middle of my day.  So I napped every day from 12:10 - 1:55.  I mean, how could I NOT?

Eventually, my brother's girlfriend and he split, I got tired of musical roommates, farm living, and the party scene, and I moved in with my brother.  It was ideal.  We're close, get each other, and knew how to live together without cramping each other's personal space.  I look back at that time as one of the best in my life.  I took a retail job, had a nice looking boyfriend for about 10 months, and once again, was living in a constant state of stress.  During this time, the boyfriend noticed that I was awake every morning at 3am.  He thought it was adorable, and took up calling me at 3am.

FLAG ON THAT PLAY.  If the boyfriend is calling at 3am, it probably means he has... a wife.  Yea, I was so naive and completely missed all the signs.  I probably missed them because he was doing random s#*t like proposing to me on moonlit beaches... I'm just sayin'.  

Still, once we broke up, the 3am waking continued.  And for almost 18 years, I was awake every day between 2-4 am for a few minutes... an hour... more....

When I'm running myself into exhaustion, I can keep it at bay.  Insomnia's a monster, it feeds itself, rewards itself, and anyone who has ever suffered from it knows how hard it is to force yourself into bed when you know that there's a chance you may be awake half the night.

In the last year though, it had gotten so much worse.  Especially during my troubles with the fankle.  I was up till midnight dreading my night of misery, and waking at 4am to go workout... and just laying in bed counting the minutes until it was time to rise because there was no pressing need to get up if I wasn't running.  There were plenty of times I was waking at midnight and staying up till 4am before dozing for an hour.  And that is when I broke a tooth.  Apparently I grind my teeth at night, and I cracked a tooth... pretty much cleaved the back off.

Fortunately I have a gifted dentist who saved it, crowned it, and insisted on my purchase of a new expensive custom made mouth piece to save the other teeth in my head.  It was too late for a second tooth, by the time the mouth guard had arrived, about a month after I ordered it, I needed another crown.

I thought the mouth guard would be awful.  I thought it would take months to adapt to sleeping with it.  Since it was custom, it fit like a glove.

Night one - I slept through.  I've been sleeping through since.

Has my stress changed?  No.  And the insomnia resolved before I was running major mileage again.  I'm not really running that much right now ~ 20 miles a week.  And because I'm sleeping better, I'm able to get up a 1/2 hour earlier and squeeze in an extra swim before my run these days, or get in a longer ride on OC.  Not to mention that with increased sleep I feel better able to handle some of the stress in my life, even though the stress is still huge.

I just wanted to share this, and suggest that if you're an insomniac, go to the dentist.  You might be grinding your teeth and jaw at night, causing yourself to wake.  Take a chance on an expensive custom mouth guard.  It might be the best money you've ever spent.


Jen said...

Now what happens when you can't fall asleep? That is where I have problems these days... mind is working too hard and wont turn off.

MCM Mama said...

I have a mouth guard too because I clench my teeth at night. I thought I'd hate it, but I've worn one for 10+ years now and I'm not sure I could sleep without it now.

I'm having insomnia again. I think it's because I have work stress again and I'm not used to it. Hopefully once I settle into a routine, I'll be able to sleep better again.

Glad you found a solution!

Pam said...

I clench my jaw and teeth too when I'm stressed, but I do it all hours of the day. Not just when I'm sleeping. I even catch myself doing it when I'm running. It makes my jaw hurt and gives me headaches. When I'm asleep I just chew my tongue. That crap HURTS the next day.

Julie D. said...

okay, this is too crazy weird. I have an appt. on Monday with my dentist to fix a tooth because of grinding and she was going to talk to me about the custom mouth guard...i had convinced myself I wasn't and didn't need to spend the you have me thinking! So glad you've been relieved of the stress of insomnia. I can't imagine how much better you feel after dealing with it for soooo long. You are amazing, G! Really. I don't know how you handle all that you do.