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When the Sleep Therapist can not sleep…now that’s another can of worms.

It’s been a few days now with maybe 6 hours of sleep. The night shift has done a number on me. Every evening I council patients on better sleeping habits. I give them all the latest and greatest advice. Yet here I am not sleeping. My circadian rhythm has turned on me. I wear my CPAP and the settings are correct.

Years of sleep abuse has taken its toll. Cardiac Surgery call, Night shifts in Neurology, Nights in sleep lab. All total 28 years.

Any thoughts? Medical and Non-Medical personnel alike...

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D. W., I'm sure you know there is an order called Shift Work Disorder. If you are having trouble stayiing awake at night, Provigil or nuvigil might be appropriate. Or for sleerping at night a short course of ambien might get you back on track. (See lalst sentence). I am not suggesting long term use of the ambien. I worked nights for years- not nearly 28- and I know the havoc it can play with your life. We are encouraged to keep the sleep pattern throughout, but who is up at 1:00am? Days off are hard to manage. After 28 years is there a possibility of switching to a day job? Also, is this becoming a chronic problem, or a miserable few days now and then (not to discount the toll of even a few days with six hours of sleep). I also did not mean to intimate that drugs may be any than a short term fix for something so obviously distressing that needs long term addressing.
Good Luck,
Mary Z.
I truly holp you get some workable suggestions from the forum
I worked the night crew at Albertsons for about a year recently. My wife put black-out curtains on the windows, portable air conditioner, quiet neighborhood & it even drowned-out my gardener every 2 weeks. My CPAP is the only thing that allowed me to go back to this (union-reinstated) job after more than 20 years. The work is brutally physical, & I prepared for it professionally.
I can tell you after sleeping 4-5 hrs during the day and maybe another 1- 2 hrs before leaving for work (5 min away) at 11pm, I had to take caffeine pills with me. I would wake refreshed after sleeping from 9am-2p after getting home and having some breakfast, but I would become exhausted after 1 hr. I fully believe the (my) biological time-clock is not set to sleep during the day.
I took 1/2 a caffeine pill occasionally is all to perform at the highest level, but any free time, I was exhausted but for a 2-4 hr. window.
With 2 days off in a row, I got one day of 8 -10 hrs sleep, and felt like a new man. The store tried to schedule it this way, but it's all but impossible, and I love the work and covered for the rest of the crew.
I was laid off (lack of seniority, my previous 13 yrs didn't count) and am on unemployment and have never felt better. I now realize how bad I felt, and I prepared in every way to fool my body.
Also, the physical demand (stocking 70 cases per hour) is even more stressful, because I know my body was working
harder than daytime, fighting the biological time-clock in addition to what was expected of me, this I know from perspiring in a store that's extremely cold due to refrigeration and air conditioning, and no customers.
I can and would do it if called back, for maybe 2-3 yrs at a time and I'm 59 and stayed in shape, thanks to CPAP since 2004, but that's about the limit I think. Some shifts were day, that even made it worse.
I can't even imagine the mental & physical stress working nights on a physician or surgeon, and the liability, just think about that for a second. All the best.
It is all about reconditioning your body to the routine DW. Techsomnia is horrible. Some days I sleep better than others. i am working out in Co. right now. The lab is great except that they rotate the schedule every month. last week I worked Wed. through Fri. This week I am back at the beginning of the week only to switch back again next month. I am currently in a conversation with the lab manager about how bad this is on the techs.
He guys thanks for your comments. The source of the not sleeping is a dramatic life change in career etc. Stress, stress, stress, it’s a good stress but none the less stress.
I actually slept 6 hours 45 minutes today. I am thinking once my new duties fit like a glove the pressure and stress will pass.
D.W. glad to hear this may not be a chronic problem. Good luck with the adjustments to be made.

Mary Z.

D. W. Conn said:
He guys thanks for your comments. The source of the not sleeping is a dramatic life change in career etc. Stress, stress, stress, it’s a good stress but none the less stress.
I actually slept 6 hours 45 minutes today. I am thinking once my new duties fit like a glove the pressure and stress will pass.
Why is it you are only sleeping 6 hours a night, DW? Is it because you don't go to bed early enough to allow for a full 8 hours? Is it because family life requires that you get up from sleeping earlier than allowing you the full 8 hours?
6 hours is all I can manage. I have a 8 to 12 hour block but at the most 6 hours is all I can remain asleep.

Judy said:
Why is it you are only sleeping 6 hours a night, DW? Is it because you don't go to bed early enough to allow for a full 8 hours? Is it because family life requires that you get up from sleeping earlier than allowing you the full 8 hours?
I can't sleep more than 7 hours. My body just will not allow it. That is if I have not built up any sleep debt.

D. W. Conn said:
6 hours is all I can manage. I have a 8 to 12 hour block but at the most 6 hours is all I can remain asleep.

Judy said:
Why is it you are only sleeping 6 hours a night, DW? Is it because you don't go to bed early enough to allow for a full 8 hours? Is it because family life requires that you get up from sleeping earlier than allowing you the full 8 hours?
Bummer, DW. I figured as much but had to ask. I hope you are right and once you get settled into this new position your sleep time becomes more natural again. Good luck and God bless. Man, it is hard when we can't sleep enough!!!!!
the best way to tackle this is three weeks mornings, three weeks days, three weeks afternoons and three weeks nights.

that way your body adjust gradually
I too have fought this battle. It has been 10 years for me. At first, I thought I was slick....red bulls or energy pills to stay awake...sleeping pills to sleep. WRONG!!!! Man, that was bad. I learned regulating when I eat, having a blacked out room, and trying not to worry about sleep worked for me. During my work week, I'll only sleep 5 or 6 hours a day. On my weekend, I'll rebound sleep the first day and then try to make the best of my days off.
It's funny you mentioned counseling people on good sleep habits. Here we are helping people sleep properly but destroying our own in the process. It's the good ole "Do as I say, not as I do" type of thing.
I am afriad it is the nature of the beast..Sacrifice the few to save the many.
The very nature of our chosen profession is the very thing that hurts us. We work in the shadows, hmm this could turn into a profound moment…, yep…nope …..LOL


SleepMBA said:
I too have fought this battle. It has been 10 years for me. At first, I thought I was slick....red bulls or energy pills to stay awake...sleeping pills to sleep. WRONG!!!! Man, that was bad. I learned regulating when I eat, having a blacked out room, and trying not to worry about sleep worked for me. During my work week, I'll only sleep 5 or 6 hours a day. On my weekend, I'll rebound sleep the first day and then try to make the best of my days off.
It's funny you mentioned counseling people on good sleep habits. Here we are helping people sleep properly but destroying our own in the process. It's the good ole "Do as I say, not as I do" type of thing.

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