For six months since my stroke I have had no period of continuous sleep, whatsoever. No, none at all.
I believe long term medication to stimulate natural activities such as sleep, eating, toileting etc has side effects that negate any positive results they might initially produce. I have found that eventually, perhaps not swiftly, things do right themselves.
It is so with my sleep problem and why I have avoided accepting medication to treat it.
The nights in the hospital bed used to be very long, observing the comings and goings, waiting for the next day to begin. I did cat-nap every few hours for one or two hours at night but never for longer, though I was grabbing bits of sleep in the daytime too.
This pattern continued when I left hospital and at home at night I would get up every couple of hours and spend an hour on the laptop to kill time. I made this up during the day by regular siestas but still did not get ‘proper’ extended sleep.
Before the stroke I had no problems with sleep and looking back at it I think the big change had been position in the bed. In hospital day and night lying on one’s back was the only possibility. Any attempt to shift position was prevented by the various devices, an inflated mattress to prevent bed sores for example. In effect you were ‘held’ in position.
When I got home I was weakened and found I could only lie on my back. Any change in position was only possible through the mechanical lift of the bed or manipulation by another person or persons.
Over time I have been struggling successfully to get myself upright and standing, fit to be moved on a transfer device. More recently at home I managed to achieve more independence and have reached the point where I can take a few wobbly steps. This is all achievement and progress, but it brings with it a bonus. I am now a little stronger, nothing major, but it is there nevertheless.
Which brings me back to my poor sleeping pattern. A few days ago I discovered that I could at last turn over in bed onto my side. I consider this my ‘natural’ position. It immediately meant an extended period of sleep, from at most two hours at a time to a three or four hour session. This appears to be becoming a fixed and regular thing. Last night I only woke once, being awake for a short period only. It is a relief that a piece of the jigsaw seems to be back in place and that part of my life is perhaps back to my accepted normal.
As far as I can see this result is just down to changing position in bed. Maybe due to physical factors such as bodily strength this has not been possible until now. I certainly feel more comfortable resting on my side and hope this is another step in the right direction. It all seems to be very delayed but at least it is progress and a cause for hope for more success.
Reading about what others have to say it is obvious that these things don’t fall into a timescale and pattern we all share but it is encouraging to think that there is a future.
I must admit, that, in common with others who have written here, there are black times of regret, sadness, anger, and frustration. None of it is insurmountable though and this Forum, this refuge gives us a valuable space to say our piece and get it all out. This healing process is on-going, continuous and talking to one another here is very much a part of it for me.
Keep on keepin’ on.