Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sleep and Headaches

My new neurologist did a study with her patients a few years ago that related sleep and headaches.

I have fairly good sleep habits, but I'm always tired, so my neuro had me get a sleep test, which I had done at a hospital Monday night and all day Tuesday. As you can see, I was all hooked up with glue and tape, and I also had a tube put under my nose and straps around my chest and abdomen to monitor breathing. It was a neat experience. I woke up a lot throughout the night, but overall I slept ok. The nap study the next day was horrible. I was supposed to take five naps at two-hour intervals; however, they only gave me 20 minutes to fall asleep, and if I didn't sleep, they'd make me get out of bed and I'd wait two hours for the next one. I couldn't sleep for a single nap. I was there until 7 p.m. and it felt like a big waste of time. But the technician said the fact that I couldn't sleep gave them results too and I shouldn't feel bad. I won't get results until my appointment with my neuro at the end of the month.

Here are some sleep instructions that my neuro gave me. I wish I could say I've been following all of them, but it's harder than it seems. I'm going to try to do better.

- Set regular hours for sleep that do not vary significantly from weekday to weekend and allow for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (9-10 hrs for adolescents).

- Avoid caffeine within 8 hours of bedtime.

- Completely avoid watching TV or reading in bed.

- Do not lie down (in bed, or a couch etc.) to read or watch TV during the day.

- To reduce the need to get up to urinate at night, be sure supper is at least 4 hours before bedtime and limit liquids within 2 hours of bedtime.

- Discontinue all naps.

- If you have problems with environmental noise, use earplugs or a white-noise generator.

- Do not sleep with pets or children.

- If you have known indoor allergens, keep them out of the bedroom (such as pet dander, feathers, dust on ceiling fans, etc.).

- No snoozing on your alarm. When the alarm goes off in the morning, turn it off and get up (I have yet to succeed at this...).

If you have a sleeping partner, ask your partner if you snore, have pauses in your breathing, kick or twitch in your sleep, grind your teeth, talk in your sleep, or sleep-walk. (If you do, please report these symptoms to your doctor).