Last week I had lofty plans to transition from going to the gym 4 days a week to training on the road. I am running a 10K this Sunday, and riding 40 miles in the Tour de Cure in June. Not to mention some 5Ks in between the two.
As we cannot control the timing of extraneous circumstances, I am in the middle of a sleeping study. I have insomnia, and I take melatonin and a sleep aid to get “some” sleep at night. It’s not fantastic, but better than what I call counting tiles on the ceiling all night. This study is not the kind where I go into a facility, and sleep while people watch me through a glass window. “She keeps picking a wedgie. Maybe she should get boxers…”
I have learned that when it comes to sleep centers, the rule is that if you have insomnia, there isn’t much to watch. Even though I am on meds that help me to fall asleep, they can’t do a sleep study (through insurance) unless they think I have sleep apnea, which they do not think I have. This study is more psychological. I keep a journal chronicling my energy levels, stress, pain, activity (minutes), napping (minutes), alcoholic drinks, time I go to bed and time I wake up. Once I wake up, I log how many times I woke up (best recollection), how long it took to get back to sleep (total for all times woken up), time spent out of bed, etc.
Then we go over how to modify my behavior to try to make the window of sleep I get, better. This week, we went over my first 2 week journal. My doctor believes (and I agree) that I am drifting in and out of consciousness, and not getting “restful” sleep. Unfortunately insurance won’t cover an in facility sleep study for us to confirm that. So we are continuing with this behavioral one. I may sound a bit of an open book, disclosing all this.
My father was a psychologist. I grew up with the understanding of the mental and emotional effect on the physical. I do therefore, abhor the concept of being psychoanalyzed, put into a box and reduced to a series of diagnoses based on your actions. “Well, when she put down that cup, her head was tilted. Ahah! She has blah blah blah disorder.” Ummm, thanks, but no thanks. Despite my resistance to that particular aspect of psychology, I do have a great appreciation for ruling out the mental and emotional factors that can effect our physical well-being. If I really want to better my situation, it is on me to be open about anything that could be affecting my sleep and my health.
Over the years a lot of my physical diagnoses have been auto-immune related. Anyone who has experience with auto-immune disorders will be familiar with the results that there are not many cures. Many of the treatments are behavioral. We can either resent this and be stubborn, not fixing anything, or we can be pro-active and go after everything we can to better our situation. I am trying to do the latter, despite how addressing mental and emotional issues is annoying and carries a stigma in society.
Back to this last week, and the results of my first journal. One thing we agreed on is that my sleep medicine is affecting our results. Because my sleep doctor is not an MD, she needed me to discuss weening off the medicine, with my prescribing doctor. She was concerned that my doctor might just say to stop it completely. He of course did. Because I want to get to the bottom of this, so I can actually get some sleep at night, I went with it and stopped the meds. The sleep doctor said I could keep the melatonin. To be honest, I was more concerned about stopping that, because it’s the only thing that helps me to fall asleep. The other stuff just keeps me from constantly waking back up (somewhat).
So of course, I am trying to get myself to wake up at 5:00 AM, and not go to the gym like I have gotten myself into the discipline of doing. Instead I wanted to go out for a run on the road, so that I can be in the practice of running out on the streets, vs on a treadmill. I also wanted to practice on my new hybrid, as opposed to my spinning classes. The differences are extremely significant.
What happened was that I ended up getting really crappy sleep most of the week. It was to be expected. The best I can describe, it is like I am resting in my bed, close to being asleep. I have loose dreams, but I am aware that I am in my bed the whole time. I drift in and out of getting to that point of sleep. It’s almost like the minute I am going to fall asleep, I wake myself up and drift off again. This leads to my alarm going off, and me feeling like I got a really bad nap, as opposed to a night of restful sleep. As a result, I snooze and snooze and snooze, not getting out of bed to go for a run or a ride. I reset my alarm and over sleep, having wasted my morning.
On Wednesday night, I went out to dinner with my brother. He wanted to go out for my birthday. Since we haven’t gone out in years, just the two of us, I was pretty excited to get to see him. He mentioned that I motivated him to start running again and that he has been getting up early and going for runs outside. That was pretty cool. I love hearing that I motivate people, and my brother is definitely someone who I am glad to have a positive influence on.
I started to realize, after I got home, that I needed my motivation on others to get back to having that effect on me. I needed to re-motivate myself and despite the bad sleep I was getting, I needed to get out there. I had to look at my snoozing and not getting up as more than just not getting decent sleep. What else could it be? I started to consider what would make me not want to go outside for a run, or a ride. I am fine with going to the gym. Then I started to think, I am scared of it. I don’t know why, but then I do. The minute I allowed myself to consider that there could be fear over doing it, I was able to see where it might come from.
What if I hurt myself (pot holes, bad knees, anything that might happen out on those dangerous roads)? What if I can’t run as far as I need to for the 10K? What if I can’t ride the 40 miles and I can’t keep my commitment? What if it’s dangerous out there and I get hit by a car or something?
OK, I let myself go through those fears. That’s enough. I just wish I had let myself go through those earlier. Thursday morning I got up, despite the bad sleep. I went for a run, and ended up completing 6.3 miles.
I was hoping to go to the market, but it would close just about when I got there. I was close to 20 miles and since that would be 1/2 the tour, I thought it would be great to make it that far in this training ride. Made the decision to ride there anyway, even if the market would be closed. It ended up that places were still open. I got to grab perogies from the perogie guy, red peppers (plan to make stuffed peppers tonight), blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes and green beans. I so love the market!