Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Insomnia at the sleep lab.

Last Tuesday, I spent the night getting tested at a sleep disorder lab. I arrived at 8:30pm, and they soon had me wired me up like a christmas tree...

I took this picture on my camphone after they were halfway done with hooking me up.

They then had me lie down in the bed, added two belt monitors across my abdomen, a pulse monitor on my index finger which pinched with a dull ache, numerous monitors on my chest and legs, and a microphone on my throat. By the time they finished, they had another 30 or so wires running into that blue board above, monitoring everything from my eye movement to my brain waves to the sounds I made in my throat and the general level of twitchiness in my legs. I was wired up so completely that the overall effect was kind of like a bondage experience -- turning from one side to another was very difficult, as I didn't want to pull out electrodes. Every one of the wires itched, though they got better with time. The ones on my scalp were held in place with sticky goop that I was sure would be a pain to get out of my hair later. My thoughts at the time? They could have at least braided the colored wires into my hair and done me up like George Clinton.

I mentioned that I wasn't tired and hoped I could sleep. The sleep study monitor said not to worry and that everyone falls asleep. They turned out the lights, and the room went completely pitch black. Disorientingly so.

I then proceeded to not sleep for an indeterminably long, long time...

After awhile, my mind slipped into a constant stream of random thoughts, intermixed with the occasional lurid fantasy. I wondered whether they could detect hard-ons on their monitors or watch the sheets dance with the night-vision camera.

After several hours, the experience started to get very interesting and halucinogenic -- thoughts flowed like colors. I could see myself doing this on purpose just to experience this state of consciousness again. Eventually though, things really began to drag, and it felt like I was falling into a deep well. I needed a break from this experience, so I pulled myself back to something like normal consciousness and tried to say something.

"Hello??!" I said into the dark nothingness.

"I'll be there in a minute," I heard over an intercom.

The monitor came in, turned on the light dimly, and asked what I wanted. I mentioned the idea of going to the bathroom, not out of necessity so much, but really, at that pojnt, anything would have been a nice break. I asked what time it was, and it turned out that it was 2:00 in the morning... a very very long five hours.

I told them that I was having really bad insomnia and could I please watch some TV / read a book and let my mind relax so that I could fall asleep, but no dice. Soon it was back into the dark. Note to self -- hospital beds are not comfortable.

I went through another 90 minutes of random thoughts and general discomfort before I finally got myself to sleep. I was awoken at about 5:40 am in the morning -- they had just gotten the mandatory 2 1/2 hours of sleep testing in that they needed to make a determination. The result? Yes, I snore sometimes. I also have occasional reduced airflow too, but my oxygen levels were good overall. They didn't have the time to see whether CPAP would be of any help at all. Frankly, it sounds to me like I could get significantly better just by training myself not to sleep on my back anymore.

On the way out, I picked up a leaflet on how to cope with insomnia.
"Don't force yourself to stay in bed. If sleep doesn't come within 20 minutes, distract yourself. Leave the bedroom and read, watch TV, or listen to music. Keep your eye off the clock to keep anxiety low, and go back to bed only when you feel drowsy."

I found it pretty ironic at the time.

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