Oh, to be a dog! To fall asleep so easily without a care in the world. Both my Chihuahuas have sleep schedules that I want more than anything. I will put them to bed by 9pm and they will immediately hit the sack and wake up at 6am (sometimes earlier than that depending on my youngest dog’s teeny tiny bladder). When I say, they immediately fall asleep; they close their eyes and snooze their way to dream land. Must be nice!
FYI, that’s not my dog in the picture, but it looks close to my youngest one (Ariel), however, she’s more white and has an ear that’s half brown. Oh, and I forgot to mention that she’s a little fatter than this Chihuahua. But I all have to do is just say: “Let’s go to bed, girls”, and Ariel will immediately start snoring and will look like the dog in the picture. FYI, do they have sleep studies for dogs? (Just kidding!) My youngest is a loud snorer and has a collapsed trachea because she’s a little chunky.
My erratic sleep struggles have gotten worse in the past few months. They were bad during my breakdown and recovery, and I was able to maintain a regular bedtime routine without a doctor’s assistance. In the past few months, I have noticed significant changes in my sleep schedule. I’m still recovering from Hurricane Harvey after almost a year later, still transitioning from switching stores and getting used my new staff, recovering from PTSD from a crime that I witnessed in April. So, my overall health is saying to me: “I need help!”
My work schedule is unusual. I don’t work the normal (atypical) 9-5PM workday like others. In the retail industry, you’re pretty much working all different types of shifts. Some days, it could be a late shift that doesn’t end until 11PM. Other days, my work day will end at 4 PM, and sometimes, the work day could end at 12PM. Having a goofy, unbalanced work schedule reeks havoc on your body and your sleep schedule. DUH! And what makes matters worse, is my eating schedule gets a little haywire, too. I typically work 8-9 hours a day and usually eat breakfast around 8AM, lunch around 12PM, and dinner around 6 or 7PM. But depending on what shift that I’m on, those schedules get mixed into the shuffle and can be hard to find time to eat.
On days, where I start at 5am; my body especially my stomach is in no mood at all for food. If I try to eat something then my stomach will get upset. I usually stick to my 8am breakfast because that’s when my stomach starts getting hungry. Unfortunately at Starbucks, your peak (busiest part of the day) is from 7-11AM. So any quick breakfast breaks must be done before 7AM. It sucks, I know. But that’s how the business works. When I leave at 12PM, then I will eat lunch and then retire to my bed. It’s exhausting working from 5-12PM when there’s so many people needing their breakfast and their coffee. The same thing happens when I work later shifts, I will put off my lunch and eat dinner late. (Many doctors say this isn’t good.)
(I wish this was me!)
However, I’m working on getting myself back on track and one of the major problems is sleep. So, I contacted my primary doctor and scheduled an appointment with him. In the doctor’s office, I spoke to the doctor about all of the problems that I was having with my sleep. I was experiencing: where I can’t fall asleep at night, I toss and turn, I snore, I have insomnia, daytime sleepiness, sleeping too little or too much, taking naps longer than 60 minutes every day, and gasping for air (sometimes). We talked a lot of about stress, work, family history, and my lifestyle. I know some family members with sleep apnea and wear the lovely CPAP machine every night to bed. So in short, my doctor ordered a sleep study conducted by sleep specialists.
I will admit that I’ve never done a sleep study before. I probably should’ve a long time ago, but didn’t think much of it. So after my appointment, I waited a few days before the nearest sleep center called to schedule my appointment with them. They pretty much walked me through of what I would expect upon arrival.
Mine is scheduled to start at 8PM and last through 6AM. So it’s like a sleepover. When you arrive there, you do have to fill out your sleep disorder questionnaire that asks a lot of questions of what your sleep habits are like so they have at least some general idea of what’s going on. When you get to your room, it’s being in a hotel room and the specialists will spend 40 minutes with you (NO JOKE!) attaching all of the electrodes to your head and scalp, chest, abdomen, and legs. Before you arrive there, you just go about your day like it’s no big deal, but you can’t consume caffeine of any kind after 2PM. Oh damn! But you can bring with your own pillow or blanket with you, you can bring your PJ’s, and whatever else you may need to be comfy. There are some restrictions, too.
After you’re hooked up and ready to go, then they will tell you to go sleep. During your sleep, those electrodes monitor your brain waves, your eye movements, your muscle activity, oxygen levels and overall vitals, too. What’s really neat is that they are able to see if you woke up during your sleep, and how many times this occurred. They also monitor your stages of sleep, your movements such as muscle jerks, or restless legs, any and all irregularities that can occur such as an irregular heartbeat or unusual brain activity.
Once that process is all said and done, it takes roughly two weeks in order to determine what the problem is. If it’s sleep apnea, then most likely, a CPAP machine will be required for you to wear at night. Those have really come along way in recent years. They’re not bulky like they used to be. If you have any other sleep disorder then you may need medication or changing your lifestyle including change your sleep and eating habits.
Unfortunately, this is where things get even more hilarious: I was all scheduled and ready to go when I got the call from the sleep center saying that my insurance denied approval for my sleep study. DENIED! Imagine my frustration, but mostly, anger by this. What’s the point of having insurance when they won’t approve of you getting a simple test done for your health? So what now? A home sleep study. So now I have to schedule an appointment with my primary doctor and have to do it myself. Yeah, RIGHT! I may need help with that. I’m no doctor and I have no freaking clue how and where to place electrodes on my body like doctors do. With my luck, I won’t get an accurate study done. So now, I have to wait and suffer.
TO BE CONTINUED…….