Recovery: Let’s Sleep On It

Sleeping during recovery is a mixed bag.  I’ve struggled with insomnia during my adult life.  My insomnia induces anxiety.  My anxiety creates more insomnia.  Repeat…

I decided to go off my anti-anxiety drugs back in November.  Even though I faced all the stress of surgery and recovery, I think this was a good choice for me.  I still experienced occasional bouts of insomnia even while on the meds, so the drawbacks of the medicine weren’t worth it.  I realize that medicine may be the correct choice for some individuals, but I am a firm believer that lifestyle choices are the better choice for me at this time.

Rest and Recovery in the Healing Process

When I’m just lazing around (typing this blog, for instance), I feel like I’m fully recovered.  I loathe the support garments and I feel like I should be able to go out for a run without a second thought.  This, however, is fiction.  I still need to rest during the day (take my endeavor into folding from yesterday) and I am still under physical restrictions.

Since I want to speed up my healing process, I know that rest is a quintessential part of my routine yet getting a good night’s sleep has proved tricky.  Sleeping in my recliner left me waking any time I needed to adjust position, which I had to do frequently because my butt cheek, and sometimes even an entire leg, would fall asleep.

With permission to finally side sleep from my doc last week, I moved to the bed with a great deal of enthusiasm only to find sleep allusive.  I decided to stop the sleepless nights and put into practice what I preach by establishing a good bedtime routine.

Sleeping During Recovery: Adults Need Routine, Too

I realize most of this is common sense.  You don’t need a degree in psychology to understand the importance of good habits.  As adults, we often skimp on sleep due to this or that activity that it seems we can get done only at the end of the day.  Throw in a physical condition that makes falling asleep uncomfortable, and you are opening up a whole new set of issues for catching some zzz’s.

After several weeks of stressing about surgery, restlessness of sleeping in a recliner, and trying to adjust to sleeping, once again, with a new set of boobs, larger and firmer than those I was born with strapped to my chest, and I found myself awake until 2am several nights last week. Something had to change.

Here are my suggestions for getting the rest you need.

  1.  Put down your phone, damnit.
    • Set your phone aside at least an hour before bed.  I realize your phone may have “night mode” or some nonsense, but staring at a light before bed while soaking up social media or news is not good for settling the mind.  Throw politics or work into that mix, and you have a perfect recipe for staying awake for hours.

      iPhone 6+
                                Put Down Your Phone
  2. Find an activity that relaxes you that does not involve technology.
    • I love a good cup of hot tea before bed.  I found a non-caffeinated herbal tea that is touted to help induce sleep.
    • Take a hot shower or a warm bath.
    • Listen to some relaxing music.
    • Put on your favorite pajamas.
    • Snuggle with a pet or loved one.

      herbal tea
                      Find What Relaxes You
  3. Pick up a good book or keep a journal.
    • I love to read before bed.  But, if you do this, make sure you are able to put that book down when it’s time for lights out.
  4. Make sure your bedroom is a relaxing environment.
    • Dim those lights, set your thermostat to a comfortably cool temperature, and prepare a clutter-free space well before bedtime.  Rushing around to clean a space that is supposed to relax you will not help at the end of the day.
    • Avoid watching tv in bed.
  5. Try melatonin or another sleep aid after discussing your options with your doctor.
    • I’ve been taking melatonin this week and it seems to be helping.  I can’t say whether the positive changes I’ve experienced are due to the melatonin, the deliberate changes to my bedtime routine, or a placebo effect, but I’ll take them. I haven’t felt this rested since my reconstruction surgery.

I hope you find these recommendations helpful in getting a good night’s sleep during recovery.  Take control over your routine like you have taken control of your health.  Your body will thank you.

A Day Off

I had the day off yesterday from my weekly fill visit.  Instead, I spent the day with one of my best friends.  We went shopping to look for an outfit for her family pictures (I picked out the winner!) and met a working friend for lunch at a fantastic restaurant in town.  I loved every minute.

This was the great part of my day.  The bad part of my day began, as it has the last two days, when I tried to actually get some sleep in my bed.  I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get comfortable and I couldn’t toss and turn with my poor husband trying to sleep next to me.  I can’t spend my life in the recliner, but I can’t give in to the sleep anxiety that I’ve dealt with for years simply because I’m trying to remember what “normal” feels like.

Insomnia isn’t any fun.  It’s horrible, in fact.  And, whenever I’m wide awake at bedtime one night, I start to obsess about sleeping and then I’m really awake.  That’s what my body does.  I’ll be fine all day and then freak out at bedtime.  I haven’t had any problems sleeping throughout this whole process other than being uncomfortable and waking up frequently.  This “can’t sleep” and wide awake feeling is one I dread.  And, worrying, of course, makes it worse. Yes, I’ve tried sleeping pills.  I take a daily anxiety drug.  And, I hate taking sleep aids.  I would rather work through it with meditation and good sleep habits.

So, an an effort to head off another episode tonight.  I spent two hours in my bed this morning trying to make it comfortable and attempting to nap.  I dozed off once (I know because I drooled…eeeeew) but didn’t stay asleep for long.  I think I have my pillows and blankets situated in a way that will work.  Now, all I have to do is get my head to cooperate.

I’m also cutting out coffee for today.  I realized I’d been steadily increasing my caffeine dose as I’ve been home and I’ve been tired due to interrupted recliner sleep.  I’m hoping this helps.

If you’ve read all of this, say a little prayer for me.  More than dealing with pain, a slack of sleep is a really scary problem for me.