Three Lessons from my Sleep Study
My sleep study experience was the making of a creepy Halloween movie. The late October full moon glowed through my car windows as I drove across town, car packed with all my sleepover stuff. Pillows, blanket, eye mask, lavender oil, ear plugs, noise machine. I packed it all.
I figured it would be tough to sleep in a strange place with wires hooked up to me, but didn’t realize just how freaky and shocking it would be.
The fluorescent lights beamed through the lobby windows into the parking lot, so I actually wore my sunglasses in to the building to shade my melatonin from the white light. I wondered and still do: Why doesn’t the sleep center have a relaxing spa feeling to it? Is it just all clinical? This seems like a missed opportunity to teach people about proper sleep hygiene. They could be setting me up with lavender lotion and a plush sleep mask instead of me bringing it along.
There’s a business idea… A sleep retreat center.
The sleep study facilitator walked me into a room with glass windows and blinds. She was a friendly as a person could be who was hooking me up to half a dozen wires to monitor my heart, breathing and movement. The worst part was the nasal wires that monitor breathing and being four months pregnant.
I did my usual sleep wind down routine, foot massage, relaxing music and all, but tossed and turned for what felt like hours. My alert system was on because of the new environment and my sunglasses were no match for the lobby lights. Melatonin disruption — check. Once I did finally fall asleep it was a restless night.
I got up to pee several times more than I usually do and did so in the dark because the bathroom lights were also blinding. Between the wires and the baby growing inside me, rolling over was as tricky as winding string around a spool on a bumpy bus ride. The facilitator came in to re-connect me to the lost wires several times, making it feel like a hazy twisted pregnancy experiment as I came in and out of a light sleeping state.
Surely the results from this experience would be invalid and maybe I’d have to do it again? You can do these at home, where sleep would be better but the results not as detailed.
If I ever could have used some extra morning sleep it was then, but the facilitator had me up bright and early and out the door, disheveled, sleep deprived and feeling hungover.
I was pleasantly surprised when meeting with the sleep doctor later that week, during the day thank goodness. He told me he expects to see a lot of disruption during a night in the center. Everyone completes at least one or two full sleep cycles, enough for him to monitor brain activity, movement during a sleep cycle and breathing. The important things.
From the sleep doctors vantage point my sleep looked healthy and he was impressed with my weekly journal showing that I usually get nine hours of solid sleep. He took my word for it despite the frequent wakings from my report and assured me they plan to continue to make the environment more calming in the future. It turns out the sleep medicine industry is short staffed.
Fifteen minutes of consulting later, the doctor sent me on my way with three pieces of advice/information that will stick with me forever.
- Everybody needs a different amount of sleep because of how much time it takes the brain to complete the necessary night time processes. Me needing nine hours is unique to me and I ought to honor that need.
- Sleep and nap when ever I can while pregnant, but as soon as the baby is born get back on a rhythm, especially with a regular rising time.
- Sleep deprivation is the leading cause of postpartum depression. Prioritize sleep and it will benefit your health.
What if the sleep center was also a sleep education hub? What if pregnant women were coached on sleep before giving birth? What if new mothers got more sleep postpartum? I still ponder these questions today.
What do you think?
Originally Published on www.BeverlyHosford.com
Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash