the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 57 Sleep Orgy

Posted by themirrenlee on 26/02/2012

The Australian koala knows all about sleep orgies; the narcoleptic effect of the eucalyptus leaves is better than Valium!

Sleep orgy.

That’s what I had this weekend. I’m cat/house sitting for friends, and it’s come at a perfect time as they have air conditioning; I do not, and Melbourne is in the middle of a heat wave. Yuk. They also have black out curtains, and a house that is like a 5 star hotel. Perfect conditions for a sleep orgy.

Fibromyalgia is a condition of chronic pain, and chronic pain makes one tired. Even if you don’t have chronic fatigue as a specific condition, you’re going to feel tired most of the time if you’re battling chronic pain. Then the circle starts: pain makes it harder to sleep, so maybe you take something for that (or maybe even have a sleep disorder), and then you feel hungover groggy from the medication, AND STILL IN PAIN, the next day.

The joke is that sleep, good deep rejuvenating re-energizing revitalizing sleep, is the best medicine there is. And yet we seem to be ashamed of sleeping. When the phone rings while you’re sleeping, and the person on the other end asks, “Did I wake you?”, I’ll bet most of you say quickly, trying to make your voice sound normal, “No, of course not, don’t be silly.”

We shouldn’t even answer the phone if we’re sleeping – you’re allowed to do that! I turn my phone off at night. I can’t believe how the thinking has become that we have to be “on call” at all times to all people. They can leave a message, or ring back. My sleep is more important.

In December, I came off the drug Cymbalta, which is an antidepressant when used in large doses, and the first medication to be recommended specifically for Fibromyalgia pain (given in smaller daily doses). I had been on it for about 3 years, and it did help take the edge off my pain, but it is such a horribly addicting drug that I wanted to come off it to see what happened with my pain. I hate being tied so completely to an addictive medication. Well, the most amazing thing happened: after over five years of insomnia I couldn’t seem to do anything about, no matter what I did or took, I started, all of a sudden, to sleep! I don’t know if it was coming off the Cymbalta, or just a coincidence as Menopause released its grip on the sleeping mechanism in my brain.

Coming off Cymbalta was as bad as I thought it would be – there are entire websites dedicated to how bad its withdrawal is. Took me almost 4 weeks of acute mental/emotional/physical symptoms before I was free of it. And my pain levels have increased, so I’m a tad upset about that. But being able to sleep is such a relief, it feels like such a gift, that I’d be afraid to go back on Cymbalta in case it was causing the insomnia. I had been on it for 3 years this last time, and over a year the first time I took it, about 5 years ago, so it very well could be tied to my sleeping timeline. The first time I took it, and came off because of other symptoms that I ultimately learned to live with, the withdrawal wasn’t quite so bad. The longer you’re on it, the worse withdrawal can be. If you’re one of those people that can take it without any side effects, then it’s probably helping your pain, which is a good thing. If you’re having sleep issues, consider a connection to Cymbalta.

Ever since I started being able to sleep, I can’t seem to get enough of it. The feeling of getting naturally sleepy is like its own drug. Of course, the other wonderful thing is that when I’m asleep, I’m not feeling pain, AND my body is repairing itself. What I’m hoping is that, eventually, my pain levels might go down while I’m awake, too, as my muscles get more and more sleep.

Sleep is healing. And yet most people don’t get enough of it. Study after study says this. We work too hard, we don’t make sleep a priority. As I said, needing sleep is almost considered shameful. With pride, people say, “Oh, I only need 5 hours of sleep a night.” No, you probably don’t. You’re probably depriving your body, on a daily basis, of something it absolutely needs for repairing itself, and you’ll eventually start to notice it. Sleep is like giving fuel to your car – it’s fuel for your body, and most people are running on empty.

Let’s also not forget that sleep deprivation is actually a way to torture people!

It’s true that some people need more sleep, some less. But even those who need less, like my son (who can get by on 6 hours a night for a long time), eventually find that they need to crash for a good long sleep orgy to feel better.

I have slept most of this weekend – shows you how much I needed it, huh? In between I read, my other favorite way to let my body relax. I really feel the difference. It’s like having a booster shot of energy.

I know there are people who say that they can’t get more sleep because of work commitments, or young children to look after (god knows, with a new baby, it’s almost impossible!), but I also know that when you make something a priority, you find a way to do it. Instead of having a drink because you’re feeling tired, which also makes you feel stressed, try just going to bed. If you have children, schedule a sleep orgy instead of a night out.

I also know that meditation is a wonderful thing, and there are retreats devoted entirely to the practice of it. But it’s not the same as sleep. They say that meditation reduces your need for sleep. I think that’s probably true, but I also think it’s easier for most people to sleep than to meditate. Everyone’s minds are too busy to stop! So why not just make a sleep orgy, whether it’s for a long night, or a long weekend, a commitment to help yourself feel better?

By the way, have you ever wondered why there are no retreats for sleeping? I know that in the middle of my insomnia years, I was far too tired and sore (muscles don’t like not sleeping) to sit and meditate. I could have, however, gone on a retreat that just let me lie in bed, sometimes taking medication, and being waited on hand and foot, so that if a sleep “wave” did hit me I could just give into it immediately! Maybe a good business idea there for someone, hmmm … ? I reckon there’s a market for it.

So I’ve had my sleep orgy, and am ready to start the week tomorrow. I really hope that anyone out there who’s feeling sleep deprived can find some way to get a little bit of a sleep orgy for themselves. It’s not only good for your body, but your emotions (grumpy, weepy) and mental state (foggy) will improve as well. That’s good news for the people around you! All in all, some form of sleep orgy should be a priority for everyone.

Look at the photo. You don’t see stressed out koalas!

I’m just wakin’ up …

2 Responses to “Day 57 Sleep Orgy”

  1. Must be a thing this week. I’ve been on a four day sleeping orgy, my brother just went back to bed after being up an hour. My best friend is on Skype with me, yawning. Is it just us with fibro or is it everyone? I wonder sometimes, are we all suffering from the same things, just at different levels? Could all our issues be caused by lack of GOOD, regenerative, sleep?

    • Well, it’s my unscientific opinion that lack of sleep is traumatic to the body, and since the closest they’ve come to a common connection between Fibro sufferers and how it started is any kind of trauma or a combination of traumas, I wonder how much damage people due to themselves in the long run by never getting enough sleep? I am a bit of a sleep Nazi fanatic! I totally believe in listening to your body, not telling it to shut up when it’s sending signals, and I kinda think that fatigue, if not an indicator of some other underlying condition, is a signal that we need to get some sleep. But, as they say, “common sense isn’t”, so I don’t know if the mindset of needing sleep is a bit shameful and weak will change very soon. In the meantime, everyone should SLEEP ON! It can’t hurt, can it?

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