xli. Coincidence & update

6 June 2009 at 23:50 | Posted in Circadian rhythm | Leave a comment
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Chapter three begins a year-to-the-day after the end of Chapter two.   A coincidence.  (I so wanted to call it serendipity but don’t want to add to the misuse of that word.)

In this last year I’ve retired but kept on with melatonin at night, my light box in the “morning” and keeping my sleep diary every day.  Plus a tiny dab of melatonin late afternoon and yellow goggles in the evening, when I don’t forget. 

The schedule has not become as regular as I’d thought and hoped, even though wake time is preferably “by 1 p.m.”  About every other month the  sleep specialist reminds me that he, at the beginning, had said that he couldn’t promise regularity, a “cure”.  And that he thought that my circadian period is “upwards of 28 hours”.

After five years of daily melatonin, I tried eight weeks without, thinking that, given the chance, my system might land on its own schedule.  Nope.  Those sleep diaries show chaos:  sleep whenever, rarely for 3-4 hours, often for 12-14 hours, night or day.  When I happened to get up between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. I did use the light box.  There’s no sign of a system, most particularly not any sign of Non-24, for which I’m glad.  When I showed the diary to the specialist, he pointed at those eight weeks and asked: “What  happened here?”

It took only a few days back on melatonin to get back where I was before; here’s a typical 4 weeks:

4weekDIARY jpeg

BTW, as you can see, the sleep diary is now simplified, with four weeks to the page.  With 28 days across and 24 hours down, midnight in the middle as before, symbols at the top for melatonin use and at the bottom for use of light box, the filled in sleep parts of each column show clearly how (ir)regular my sleep pattern is.  Illustrated is, believe it or not, a month that the specialist was quite happy about:  “That may be the best month you’ve had.”

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Next:  xlii. Researchers mentioned here

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xxix. Guest Blogger, not a morning person

15 October 2006 at 20:14 | Posted in Circadian rhythm | 5 Comments
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With the author’s permission, here’s a particularly insightful post to a DSPS support group. Thanks, V., for letting me use this!
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It’s interesting to me when someone comes on and talks about a “cure” to see the reaction. I think there’s way more to this than just biology. I switched to an early wake time to take a class I needed to take to finish my degree. I noticed the same thing that some of you have mentioned. I got a lot of sleep at the “socially acceptable” times but waking up early everyday left me feeling weird. Like something wasn’t quite right. By the end of the academic term I was sick, fatigued and run down.
 
There was another thing I noticed, though, that was completely separate from the physical symptoms I was having. I felt like I moved to another city or something. Culturally, everything shifted slightly. I woke up and walked to the bus, the streets were filled with busy people, the world seemed way more crowded and the pace was so different from what I was used to. People’s attitudes were different. They were aggressive, everyone had to get to where they were going and you better not get in their way.
 
It was weird seing everything illuminated from the opposite side. I wasn’t used to seeing how things looked in the morning sun.
 
All the people I was used to seeing in my neighbourhood were gone as I was now going shopping, getting a coffee, doing my laundry at different times with all these different people.
 
I had trouble getting together with my friends because our schedules clashed and getting stuff done was hard because I didn’t have my uninterrupted night hours to be alone and work.
 
Even watching TV was annoying, all my favourite shows don’t come on till after 11pm (although that was easily solved by taping them but I couldn’t watch them with my friends).
 
After the course was over, aside from feeling like crap physically I think I was kind of homesick. I wanted to get some sleep, when my body wanted it rather than when it was “socially acceptable”, and then get back to my life. I wondered if looking for a “cure” was what I needed. I’m a night owl, always have been. I was the only 10 year old in my school who knew who Johnny Carson and John Belushi were. I grew up star gazing out my bedroom window because I couldn’t get to sleep until 4am and wasn’t allowed out of bed or to turn on the lights. I didn’t care about Saturday morning cartoons or getting up early to open my presents at Christmas, then or now.
 
It made me realize that I’m part of a culture of night people, people who have gone against some of the traditional norms when it comes to being an “early bird” and I really felt out of place in my new morning world.
 
I don’t think I’m up for being a guinea pig for another “cure”. So far all the drug, light, cycle therapies, special teas, white noise machines, relaxation tapes, etc. seem to focus on one aspect of the problem and ignore the rest; biological, social, psychological. And when one more thing doesn’t work I feel like even more of a defect. I’m tired of devoting so much energy to fitting in. Maybe it would be better spent trying to set up a life that works for me.

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Next:  xxx. Light Therapy, Practice Parameters, 1999

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