Well knowing nothing about you its hard to say for sure, but a simple sleep study will tell all. Not being a Doctor, and not having seen you during a
sleep study I really don’t want to try and tell you what is going on. That is a doctor’s place to do to begin with, not a technicians. What I will
explain to you is from first hand experience in running studies every night for years.
Basically people’s perception of what happens when they are asleep and on the boarder of sleep are not what in reality often what happens. I had a
patient once call my boss because he truly believed that he had woke up in the middle of the night, taken off all his electrodes, and sat there for
the rest of the night with none attached. He also told my boss I had left in the middle of the night and come back first thing in the morning.
Problem was that the study is recorded on a polygraph, and if he removed any wires they would go flat or show 60 cycle noise all night, plus the
entire study is camera recorded to disk with the study. Then there was the fact that I had made adjustments to the equipment all the way through the
study and added notations. But in his mind this had happened as real as anything else he had ever experienced. In reality he was most likely dreaming
this very vividly, and thought it was real.
That is just one of a thousand strange stories I can tell you, but the point is that what you think is happening and what you tell the doctor is
happening, may not be what in fact is happening. Only a sleep study can tell for sure.
The reason I say this is because finding someone that truly has insomnia, while not impossible, is much rarer then you would think. About 95% of the
people, especially older people that tell me they have insomnia, actually end up being what I am about to tell you.
What I am going to guess your real issue, especially since you mentioned being retired, is in fact sleep apnea. While it is true that we require less
sleep as we age, and the deeper stages of slow wave sleep dissipate by the time your in your 40’s, you also tend to loose muscle tone and put on
extra weight with age as well.
So Here is the scenario I am going to say is most likely, again this is just MY GUESS
not based on any personal fact other then the few you
have stated here. You bounce back and forth between stages one sleep and awake, stage one is very light sleep, but during this period you are stopping
breathing. Your brain sensing that your oxygen level is dropping, causes you to wake up to breath. This goes on very rapidly, so out of every 30
seconds of time, you spend 10 seconds of it totally awake and 20 seconds in stage 1 but not breathing correctly. This will in fact make you FEEL like
you have stayed awake for hours, when in reality you are drifting in and out of sleep. Here are a few other things that are good signs that I am
- You always get up to go to the bathroom at the same time, usually around 0300 am.
- You feel more rested after napping in your chair then sleeping all night in bed.
- You snore, or gasp for breath when you are asleep.
- You either don’t dream, or you always remember your dreams.
- You usually wake up at the same time in the morning without an alarm clock.
- You kick you feet, or arms in your sleep.
Let me know if any of those ring true and I can help you more from there, but again only a sleep study is going to tell you for sure, and it’s the
only way your going to feel rested and stay healthy. Getting sleep study done might seem like a pain, but sleep is so important we spend a third of
our lives doing it, so I can guarantee you that if you don’t sleep well it will have a detrimental effect on the rest of your heath.
The problem with taking sedatives like Ambien without having a sleep study preformed first is that in the scenario I am describing your brain is
acting to protect itself from oxygen deprivation. By medicating yourself to cause you to remain asleep even though your oxygen is dropping is
dangerous to say the least. I have seen people’s O2 SAT drop to 50% and lower if they have this problem and are on a sedative, where they would
normally wake by the time it hit 80% without it. Part of the reason that I know this is that I was a technician that worked for a lab that did the
clinical trials on Ambien years ago. But again this is from personal experience, I am not a Dr, and if your Dr cleared you on it then I am sure it is
fine for you, it just may not be so for anyone else.
Oh, one more thing, depression can be a side effect of sleep apnea as well.
[edit on 4/26/2005 by defcon5]