The following article is a repost of an article I wrote a year or two ago.....Following that post is a graphic which was presented to me. It demonstrates some fascinating and alarming facts about the danger of sleeplessness...Read on and enjoy!
Like any other disease, mental illness can result in changes or
abnormalities in the sleep habits and patterns of sufferers. Obviously
with sleep, there is one of only three possibilities for a person:
1- They sleep normally
2- They sleep way too much, with difficulty in waking -- or
3- They do not sleep enough.
Being a person in category #3, I can say, with authority, that there is no hell quite like that of an insomniac.
When I was younger and in the throes of a profound depression I was
at that time, in the hospital on a "one to one"...where a person from
staff needed to be within arm's reach of me at all times. I think I
literally went for an entire month or more with less than an hour's
sleep per night. And most nights I got none. I am not exaggerating
this , nor was I merely unaware of falling asleep; the "guards" were
amazed at the fact that my eyes remained open night after night.
is because I was among the unfortunate category of people who suffered
from "agitated depression"...I paced. and I was NOT sleepy although,
God knows, that I was achingly, miserably exhausted: (kind of like I
feel right now.) Now obviously, "for every action is an equal and
opposite reaction." And the fact is that mental illness suffer the
other extreme on the scale....And some, like many I know...are sleepless
all night...and then will sleep all day.
difficulties of the mentally ill are often worsened or changed by the
side effects of their medications. The vast majority of the category of
drugs called, "anti-psychotics", cause extreme
somnolence---and it is very very common for a person with schizophrenia
to need to sleep at least 12 hours each night...and often require at
least one nap during the day. They sap energy and dull responses. In
general, just slow everything down,
including metabolism, which is why they often cause rapid weight gain.
It is for this reason, perhaps primarily, that there is such a problem
with with people with schizophrenia remaining compliant with their
medication regime....This accompanied by the denial which is typical of
the illness, causes almost everyone who takes the meds , to at some
point, decide to go off of them at least once and usually frequently.
This in addition to the awful way
some of them make you feel--as though your body has gone numb and your
head is stuffed full of cement--cause great numbers of people to suffer
multiple relapses throughout their illness.
the good news is that, among the "third generation" of psychotropics
(the newest psych meds available), this feeling of numb paralysis is greatly
lessened. And they are often very well tolerated. I even take an
older med, from the second generation of meds, called Loxipine, and it
causes little or no "slowdown" but oddly, it is very rarely that you
will hear of someone who takes this med. Anyway, I'm digressing here.
Now this brings me to the problem of hyper-awareness, or constant alertness, which a few
of the latest psych drugs can cause. Actually, because i was suffering
so greatly from negative symptoms (do a search on that in the side bar
of my blog, for an explanation ), I designed my current mix of drugs
(which list, I'd presented to my psychiatrist with the desperate plea to
try and fortunately, she agreed.) to all cause either this alertness or to be neutral in effect, like Loxipine.
did this so that it would be possible for me to lose some of the 90
pounds I'd packed on in a year of the other drugs and also so that I
would have the energy and vigor to overcome the paralyzing effect of
profound lethargy that my disease was causing me, which was compounded
by the side effects of the other drugs. I did lose 60 pounds (not
without effort on my part, I assure you), and now
I am very alert at night. I will immediately fall asleep...and then
about two hours later will be awakened by pain (which is my problem from
my other disabilities)....and once awake will be completely unable to
return to sleep. Occasionally I will doze for a few minutes, but
largely, I 'm awake and active on my laptop or painting with my graphics
I didn't mind this for the first, say month,
but now, after more than a year of negligible sleep, I'm about ready to
plead for another med change. I am achingly, profoundly
exhausted. I do not suffer the type of hell that I suffered as a
depressed person with insomnia....I do not lie in bed motionless trying
to sleep (I couldn't if I wanted to...when I hurt, I have to MOVE and
frequently change my position)....I just get up and get busy. If I get
sleepy again, I will take a short nap, either just prior to daybreak,
or/and during the day (and guaranteed: during church! to my intense
embarrassment). Once I took such a "nap" while I was driving....and
drove into a side barrier on the highway....that was the end of my
Sleep is a major part of our health and
experience. After all , we spend anywhere from a third to half of our
lives asleep. And difficulty with it can cause us serious health
problems, never mind lapses in energy levels and our own sense of
comfort....including have an effect on our mental health all by it self.
...Just one more thing a person who suffers from these diseases must endure on a daily basis....