So I FINALLY got my results back from the sleep study I had done a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I feel like the results are disappointing.
I was told I have very mild sleep apnea (not enough for one of those crazy machines), and that was pretty much it. The doctor said that it was recommended that I get 7.5 hours of sleep every night (she did say 7-8 would be OK.. That I don't have to be anal about it); and that I may, if problems persist, want to see a ear, nose, & throat doctor, to see if there's anything in my nasal passage causing the apnea. She also made some of the usual recommendations: no TV in the bedroom, try to go to bed around the same time every night, have a routine, don't hang out in the bed for anything but sleep, and no caffeine or alcohol within about 4 hours of bed. Most of those things I'm doing already (although some of the changes, like no TV, have been within the last week and a half or so).
Does anyone have any helpful hints for my sleep? I generally get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night, occasionally a little more on weekends (usually in nap form). I feel tired constantly. It's a chore for me to get out of bed in the morning, and I always feel fatigued. I don't drink much caffeine - about 1 cup of coffee or 2 cups of tea a day. I just want to be not tired!
Diet: I would say about 90/10 Paleo (still haven't quite figured out the difference between "Paleo" and "Primal". Lots of eggs, veggies, grass-fed meat, etc. About 2-3 pieces of fruit (with 2 being small clementines/mandarin oranges).
Exercise: 4-5 times a week. Stationary bike for 20-30 minutes, plus circuit training (alternating between arms and legs, with abs at least every other day). Total of about 1 - 1.25 hours per day I do it. my job is a desk job, but I have K-T Syndrome, so I can't be on my feet too much without pain/swelling issues.
I'd have your adrenal glands checked. You can go to a naturalistic doctor and they can run a blood test (since a general MD won't recognize adrenal fatigue).
I was/am exactly where you are now except I don't have a solid routine I usually go to bed/wake up within 2 hours of each other. But anyhow you can also get an at home cortisol test which can be picked up at a Walgreens or CVS. You test yourself several times throughout the day to see if your levels are normal. If they are too high or too low it indicates poor adrenal function and can either cause any type of insomnia and/or poor sleep quality.
I suffered with adrenal fatigue (mostly sleep issues) for a decade (age 10-24) until I saw a naturalistic doctor and had a blood test done and determine I had adrenal fatigue.
Thankfully, there are a lot of vitamins and such you can take that are non-addictive, cheap and have no side effects. The adrenals can take a few months to a few years to restore to their proper function. Personally, I started my treatment plan 5 months ago and went from sleeping 5 hours a night to now 7-8. I was a moderate to severe case though.
This is all of course if you have it! But according to my doc and the internet many sleep issues are caused by poor adrenal function.
One piece at a time. Now that you have good suggestions and are implementing a sleep schedule that a specialist thinks will work for you, you must consider your diet and activity levels.
Diet? Tell us about it. Since this is on PH, do you follow a Paleo or Primal lifestyle and diet?
Exercise? Nothing, IMHO, will help more for sleep than getting enough activity in a day and throughout an entire week. Nothing.
What was your AHI? I wonder what very mild means. If the apneas are the cause, then you might consider sleeping on your side to prevent them. Typically people wear a t-shirt backwards and put a tennis ball in the pocket. You might also try a good eye mask to maximize Melatonin production and improve the quality of sleep in the morning. I like these. They're compatible with a CPAP, keep the eyes moist, are comfortable and portable (easy to take on a plane), and are very effective. I've discovered more important than getting enough sleep is sleeping at the right time. Your Melatonin production peaks at about 2am so ideally you want to sleep by 10pm and wake up by 6am. I think you're better off with 6 hours starting at 10pm than 8 hours starting at 2am.
My husband had a massive heart attack 2.5 years ago. After his heart attack he started having problems sleeping. He would stop breathing frequently and it scared the crap out of me. And along with that he started to snore. He always said his chest felt like there was an elephant on it. He started going to the heart doctor quite frequently. Coincidentally, I started him on a treatment that I thought might help him with what I thought was possibly inflammation. Well, I don't know all the reasons for his condition but within 3 days he was sleeping through the night, he wasn't snoring and once again i could sleep without fear of him dying during the night due to not breathing. Seven months later my husband is still doing very well, still taking and has had no need to visit his heart doctor. Due to his positive results, I shared this with my brother who was actually sleeping with a mask for his sleep apnea. Within 3 days he showed significant improvement and was back to sleeping in the same room with his partner. If you want more information about what I did I would be more than happy to share. Please contact me at email@example.com.
I know they said very mild, but I just found out that I have mild obstructive sleep apnea and after my first night of getting more than 4 hours on the CPAP machine, I woke up feeling super refreshed, for the first time I could ever remember.
I apparently only stop breathing about 4 times per hour, but even that is enough to keep from being well rested and raising cortisol at night, and feeling zonked during the day. Did they tell you how many times per hour you stopped breathing? Even mild sleep apnea should be treated, if I were you I'd push for a trial with a CPAP to see how you feel.
Given that your rest is interrupted to a certain extent, you might need to give yourself a window of 9-10 hours to get the right amount of REM sleep that would normally occur for someone without a sleep disorder in 7-8 hours.
My recommendations may be a bit simplistic, but it certainly doesn't hurt to share them.
Possibly LESS intentional exercise than you do now may help - meaning, intense but shorter workouts with free weights in addition to lots of low-impact exercise - walking, leisurely bike rides etc.
Have you attempted any sort of meditation program? There are so many resources both online and at libraries that explain how to being a simple meditation program. This may help with lowering stress and thereby increasing your energy.
Do you currently take any supplements? I've recently begin supplementing with a couple tablespoons of Natural Calm before bed and have noticed a substantial improvement in my sleep quality. Taking a magnesium supplement may help. I also take an herb called Rhodiola - it's an adaptogen that helps your body adjust to increasing levels of stress. When I take it, I have more energy, am able to focus for longer and have a much brighter outlook about life in general.
Mark Sisson recently did a blogpost about sleep quality: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/7-ways-sabotaging-good-sleep/ .