Big Sleep

sleep-stages

Sometimes my husband and I come home from a party just as my children are going out. Well I remember being young and staying out late. Now, in the prime of my middle age, I cannot imagine anything worse. As far as a mood elevator, a good night’s sleep is my drug of choice.

I have made some radical changes in lifestyle in the last ten or twelve years to support my sleep habit. The most difficult change was giving up coffee. I do love a good cup of java. In the old days, coffee was my reason for getting up in the morning. But I read an article that said I would lose ten pounds if I switched from coffee to green tea. (I did lose nine pounds, but that’s another story.) The first two weeks I had terrible headaches. Caffeine is a vasodilator so I guess all the veins in my brain were constricting. Nevertheless I persisted coffee-less because I realized the immediate benefit of not waking up to pee so often. How sweet it is to sleep through the night.

Another change I made is going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. I clock out between nine and ten and bound out of bed between five-thirty and six. Too early for most, but it works well for me. I sleep so much better than the old days when I would stay up past midnight and then try to sleep in. Light and noise just interrupt my shuteye once the day dawns.

Lori puts a high priority on sleep too. It is one of the spokes of her wheel of attack on Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s Disease messes with sleep big time. P.D. can cause R.E.M (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep Disorder that creates unique sleep disturbances where people act out their dreams. To them, their dreams are real. When people have this symptom of Parkinson’s dream, it’s not passive. In Lori’s case, sometimes she talks a lot; others she does what she is dreaming. Bob says, “Once I woke her up because she was choking me with the chord from my sleep apnea device. When I asked her why, she said, ‘You’re the dog. I am taking you for a walk.’” It was nothing personal.

Lori’s Parkinson’s specialist, Dr. Michael Rezak, said his patients who do everything right live well longer – everything right means: getting exercise, taking meds and sleeping well. Lori works hard to get enough sleep: “I need a really good night’s sleep so I oftengo to bed at nine. It’s not even dark in the summer. I try to get eight to nine hours a night. If I get eight hours, I am in fine shape but nine is luxury. I take a half hour to finallyget up so I try to wake up slowlyand start flexibility exercises in bed. When I get up really slowly, then I am alsoless likely to have breathing or balanceproblemsas the day begins. As with most people,I am not fullyrested if I don’t get enoughREM sleep.”

 

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