Oh the anticipated sleep study blog! It's heeeeeere...
I went to my appointment at the sleep disorder center to review my results this morning. First, we reviewed the night sleep study results. For the night sleep study, I was at the lab at 9 p.m. and by 10 p.m. I had wires attached to multiple points on my face, head, chest, and legs. It was only mildly uncomfortable. But I did look like a strange creature in my flannel pajamas. The worst part of the night was the tube-like thing they insert into both of your nostrils. My nose was itchy and ticklish all night. Very unpleasant. Oh and the glue! The GLUED sensors to my scalp. The glue continued to flake off for several days afterward. Very sexy.
They gave me a snack (juice and graham crackers, if you are wondering) and sent me to bed at 11 p.m. It felt like I hadn't slept at all when I pressed the nurse button to help me use the restroom at 4 a.m. (There were no clocks in the room, but I peeked out into the hall and was put into a panic over the thought of having to come back and do this all over again.) After the technician plugged me back into the machines, I think I fell asleep pretty quickly. They woke me up a little past 6 a.m. and told me to change into my regular clothes and stay awake until my nap portion of the sleep study.
Results of the night portion:
The doctor told me I have no breathing issues while sleeping, though I do have mild snoring. The snoring was news to me. Anyhow, I don't have apnea which means I don't need to wear a CPAP when I sleep. Awesome.
The nap portion of the study tests for narcolepsy. I didn't understand why my doctor thought I had narcolepsy, as I always imagined narcoleptics as they appear in movies. Falling asleep mid sentence, or while eating their soup. Turns out those are extreme portrayals of narcolepsy, and only a very small percentage of people with narcolepsy have such drastic symptoms.
The doctor told me narcolepsy affects sleep cycles, and can cause you to feel unrested, as people with narcolepsy do not spend enough time in the restorative stage of sleep. Interesting...
The technician put me down for my first nap around 6:45 a.m., and four more naps followed--approximately every two hours. It was so hard to stay awake in between naps, as I felt like I didn't sleep at all during the night portion. I did manage to keep awake, and subsequently finished reading three plays between naps. (Still haven't reached 50 yet...)
The technician would wake me up (what felt like mere minutes) after I had fallen asleep and asked me if I thought I had slept, how long I thought I had slept for, and whether or not I had any dreams. She said my perceptions of the nap were very important for the diagnosis.
Results of the nap portion: On average, it took me five minutes to fall asleep for each of the five naps. This is " very abnormally" fast. A "normal" person will take more than ten minutes to fall asleep. So, it turns out my blog name is incorrect. On the scale of "very abnormal," to "abnormal," to "normal," I am officially "very abnormal" when it comes to sleeping. Cusp of Abnormal, anyone?
The doctor also told me I had dreams during the third nap, and "normal" people do not dream until much later into their sleep cycle. I think it took me less than ten minutes to have my first dream. "Normal" people take about 80-120 minutes to fall into the dream stage.
So what does this all mean? I've been diagnosed with narcolepsy. I always knew I did not sleep like a normal person--but this confirms what I've known all along. I can sleep for 12 hours straight and feel like I haven't slept a wink when I awake. It is so hard always feeling like I'm running on fumes, but I can see hope in my future.
My doctor prescribed medicine for me that will help me get to and remain in the restorative stage of sleep for longer periods of time during the night. There are some draw backs to the medicine though. First, I have to set an alarm for 3 hours after I go to bed to take the second dose of the medicine. With this dose and one right before bed, I should be able to get 6-8 hours of quality sleep. When the doctor told me it could help me feel "ready to go" in the morning, I wanted to cry. "I've NEVER felt that way in my entire life!" I exclaimed--wanting to give the doctor a giant hug.