The mechanics of sleep

I messaged my special one the other morning and commented about how I only managed about six hours of sleep that night.  In her return message, she observed that on nights that precede days off, I tend to get up earlier more often than not, I don’t necessarily get more sleep considering it is a day off, and if necessary, during the course of the day, I can get a nap in (and usually do, not always intentionally).  After thinking about it, I was forced to admit she’s right, that’s what seems to happen.  I may get up to use the bathroom in the morning of a day off, and since I don’t have to be on the go, or getting up to go to work, I can stay up if I wish and accomplish things if there’s a desire to do so, without being rushed.  An interesting observation to be sure.

Too, I’ve been using a CPAP machine for the past 20 years as well.  For a long time when I was working nights, I didn’t get very good sleep during the day, and I mostly attributed it to the fact that I was sleeping during the day and not at night as is considered to be normal.  With the invention and subsequent proliferation of electric, incandescent and fluorescent lights, the possibility of working more than two shifts in a workplace became more common.  Go back to the early years of the 20th century and you don’t find too many businesses able to afford three shifts, mainly because their workers would be in the dark, and if you can’t see what you’re doing, you’re not going to be very productive.

Sleep apnea hadn’t been an issue until fairly recently.  Certain situations and instances when I’d feel particularly tired after sleeping 8-10 hours became more and more common and there were times when my wife told me I’d stop breathing in the middle of the night for a few seconds.  Oxygen deprivation would never set in and I’d invariably turn over and begin breathing normally once more, so it never became a life threatning issue.  Even so, she suggested I speak to my GP about it and he had me scheduled for a sleep study in 1999.

Back then a sleep study was a more involved affair, these days it can be done in your home overnight unless there’s a dire need to do it the old-fashioned way.  Meaning having you to report to a dedicated sleep study lab, be wired up to the machines (as I recall it took a good 45 minutes for all the wiring to be attached to my body) and then attempt to get sleep around 11 at night.  Too, you weren’t allowed to sleep on your side, you had to sleep (or try) on your back, so that you didn’t pull out any of the wires, and the bed was damned uncomfortable.  And you had someone monitoring you all night long, in another room with a light on, albeit somewhat subdued.  The only thing I could equate it to was being in a hospital and being awoken at odd hours to get your BP taken.  Finally, you had to be sure not to have drunk too much beforehand, because you weren’t allowed to get up and go to the bathroom once you were wired to the machines.

Pretty much the most restless sleep I’d had in ages, that I could remember.  When the tech rousted me at 5:30 am and told me I could go, I apologized for not giving him a better reading.  He said it was fine, no one gets much sleep when wired up like a stereo, in an uncomfortable bed, pillows etc.  They get the most that they can and generally get enough in the last couple of hours moreso than in the first ones when the subject is trying to get comfortable.  He said I’d be notified in about a week as to what the results were, but he did mention I stopped breathing more than a couple of times while he was observing.  So he was pretty sure I had sleep apnea, he just couldn’t tell me how bad it was.

I vividly remember driving home from the hospital rather bleary after being dewired from the monitoring machines.  It was right around sunrise, and it was a cold morning.  I had a 30 mile drive home, since the hospital where the sleep study lab was at, was a good ways away from there.  I drove there, had breakfast and then went back to bed, for a nap, which was much more restful than the one I had just previously.  A few days later my doctor referred me to a ENT nearby who confirmed I did indeed have ‘obstructive sleep apnea’ and needed a CPAP machine.  The surgery was available as well, but the machine seemed (to him at least) the better (and cheaper) alternative.

The first machine I got was about the size of a bread box, and cost about $3000.  Fortunately, my insurance covered most of the cost, or else I would have been in Dutch.  It must have been constructed rather solidly as it managed to survive nearly 18 years.  I finally had to get a new one when the motor on the old one burned out.  In that time the provider of the machine actually went through two owners and it was the third that provided me with the unit that I’m using now.

The old one had a serial port for communication, the new one uses WIFI for its connections and communicating with the home base.  The new unit does have a SD card port, but I believe it was put in just as a failsafe in case the WIFI was down or inoperative, so there would be a hard copy of the results for an ENT or other medical person to pull.  In the three years I’ve had the machine, neither my ENT nor the people that provided it have been interested in what’s on the card.

Getting back to the start of this entry, my sleep for the most part with the CPAP is pretty good.  Last night (this entry has been several days in the making, surprise surprise) I slept a little over 9 hours, and when I awoke, I still felt tired.  Right now, about an hour after waking, I feel rested and pretty good.  I should be ok for the remainder of the day.  Most nights I get between 6 and 8 hours of sleep.  Certainly there are nights I don’t, for one reason or another.  But when I’m using the machine and mask, my sleep is FAR better than when I don’t.  Which is why I’m often cautioned by my special one to use it, as opposed to just sleeping on the couch downstairs.  Believe me, I’m trying.

 

I wonder if Noah has an Ark I can borrow?

The weather report for the next week or so is rain.  Not just rain, but rain, rain and even more rain.  Did I mention it’s supposed to rain a lot this week?  Ok, just checking.  Rain is what makes the flowers grow, but it’s also what makes the grass get out of hand if there’s not time to cut it in between bouts of rain.  So it’s going to be interesting to see how long the lawn gets by the time I’m able to cut it next.

Fortunately, my mower is still relatively new.  When I moved to this area in 1993, I purchased a Craftsman push mower from Sears and it moved with us to every house and property where we lived.  About three years ago I gave it to one of the neighbors up the street, they didn’t have a mower of their own, and their lawn every year needed to be mowed and almost never did, unless someone nearby came along and helped them out.  Seeing as I was interested in upgrading, my wife suggested giving them my old mower and getting a new one.  So I did.  Of course a year later they lost the house due to back taxes and I think the old mower was either sold or thrown away with the remains of the house when it was torn down.  C’est la vie, right?

For the most part, I keep lawn and other equipment for a long time.  It’s a habit I picked up from my parents, specifically my father.  I still have all of his tools in storage, some of which he inherited from his father, so a lot of them are actually pretty old.  I’ve upgraded some things like drills and socket sets over the years, though they generally never stay in the containers they originally came in, that’s one of my major faults.  I have several tool boxes in the basement that are a jumble of various tools, one of these days I need to go there and sort everything out.  I keep saying that, but inevitably, never do.  Shades of procrastination.

Even so, with all the rain, if I can get a little time and no pain in my various joints, perhaps I can do some sorting in the house.  I certainly can’t mow the lawn until it dries sufficiently.  Now that I have the roto-tiller fixed, perhaps I can clean out the garage so it has a place to stay when the next seasons arrive and its no longer needed until Spring 2020.  We’ll see how all that susses out.  Stay tuned!

 

Early Riser

It’s just before 8 am on my day off and I’ve already been up for about 90 minutes. I went to bed last night around midnight, intending to sleep about 8 hours if I could, as I have things to be doing today. A chiropractic appointment in another town, and since it’s going to be a nice day outside, probably a lunch out on the way home, then some work either in the backyard, in the gardens, or finishing work on the roto-tiller if I can manage to procure a suitable fuel line.

During my work career, I’ve primarily worked third shift. Going in to work at anywhere between 10 pm and perhaps 2-3 am when I was working in the store bakery. When you work a late shift, you tend to want to sleep during the day, and you don’t always get the right amount of it, due to the interruption of circadian rhythms and the fact the human body wasn’t really designed for third shift work. Go back a hundred years, (or more) and people weren’t working three shifts normally. It was only after fluorescent lights were invented and used in factories that the third shift was given its time. Now, companies that want super-productivity schedule people to work in the middle of the night when there’s little foot traffic to get things accomplished (like stocking shelves) and ready for business come the morning.

It’s only in the last ten years that I’ve been working first shift. Starting in the early morning anywhere from 6:30 to 8, with the occasional 5 am when it comes to a day where there’s department inventory. I’ve dabbled with the idea of going to another store to become a department manager again, recently there were openings nearby for a night crew manager, or what’s called a ‘scan coordinator’, basically someone that’s in charge of keeping all the prices in that particular store in order, hanging and creating sales tags and so on. But what’s mostly stopped me is the fact it’s no more money than I’m making now, and I’d have to drive 40-50 more miles per day. So I’d end up losing money for the ‘privilege’ of being a manager. Honestly, no thanks. Plus there’s little room for advancement. So I’ll stay where I am.

Circling back to the topic at hand, I woke up this morning early and figured I’d get my bathroom routine out-of-the-way right off, so that my wife, who tends not to be a morning person, could take her time getting herself ready for our sojourn out. Even she admits when she was employed as a social worker, she had a difficult time getting to the office in a timely fashion. If I get my stuff done, the primary bathroom is free (there are 2 in the house, but one is far more cramped than the other) for her to use at her leisure and I can get other things done before we head out.

Too, it fits into my usual morning routine when I’m working.  I get up, get my bearings and head to the bathroom for evacuation and dawdling on my Samsung tablet, checking news, baseball scores (have to see if the Red Sox either won or lost) and whatever else might be happening on social media or elsewhere.  Since I installed signal repeaters in good places in the house, there’s a strong WiFi connection just about everywhere both upstairs and down, so I don’t have to be concerned with signal drop like I used to.   I don’t really like typing on the tablet, I tend to prefer the feel of a keyboard when I’m typing.  I’m a bit old-school in that respect.  Unlike the kids I see at work who type away at 200 wpm with their thumbs, I’m more of the touch-typist, like when I practically taught myself on late nights sitting on the couch at our old house on the lake.  IRC was a great teacher when it came to learning typing.  Take that, typing class at RCS!  Ahem.

It’s now almost 9 and about ready to get going with getting the trash and recycling out to the curb.  Don’t have to fight for bathroom time and hopefully things will go smoothly from here on out.  The wife has come downstairs, we’ve chatted about what else we’re going to be doing post-appointment (she wants to shop for more plants, I need to see if that fuel line is available and there’s lunch to consider) and she’s headed for her (working) computer in the addition.

Onward!