Sleep Deprivation

During Paula’s hectic, yet exciting job as a PR marketing manager she would crash into bed at night and sleep soundly until the next morning.

Waking fresh and revived from the blissful sleep that comes so naturally to most (and painfully fitful to others), she would work flat out, hardly noticing the day go by, only to slip between the sheets for another night of God-given rest.

But a few years ago that all changed for Berkshire Mum, Paula, almost 50.

Paula ‘minor’ shoulder operation didn’t go as planned and she was left with a dislocated collarbone and needed her shoulder to be reconstructed with metal plates. Read Paula’s five year wild ride.

For weeks on end Paula struggled through pain and after initially testing a few morphine based medications, which she said left her unsure if she was asleep or awake, she gave in to the doctor’s suggestions and resorted to taking sleeping pills.

Anything for a good night’s sleep, right?

Wrong!

Paula was at this stage, ready to sell her soul in pursuit of undisturbed, restful, rejuvenating and energizing sleep. Note the descriptions here – Paula is adamant that sleep should not be taken for granted and now treasures it like a Christmas morning toy.

For weeks on end Paula struggled through pain and after initially testing a few morphine based medications, which she said left her unsure if she was asleep or awake, she gave in to the doctor’s suggestions and resorted to taking sleeping pills.

Just so we get this straight: Sleep is a natural and periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is suspended. Although this came naturally to Paula before, she was now suddenly immersed in pain and discomfort and woke every time her body rolled over onto her right side.

Not taking advantage of this unconscious suspension leaves the body at its lowest ebb, bringing on mood swings, depression, the inability to cope with the slightest crinkle in daily life and a severe lack of energy. All of this confronted Paula head on while she struggled to accept this radical change in her circumstances.

How else was she expected to sleep? Sleeping pills, Zopiclone, was prescribed and seemed to be the next best thing, and for a while brought some relief, even if not the heavenly slumber we all take for granted.

 

Acupunture's Fear Of Needles

Her partner, Ken Sheridan, often woke to find her moaning in her sleep. She hated waking with the drowsiness and sluggishness and dreaded the long term effects. Surprised at how difficult it was to give them up, Paula sought alternative methods and tried Eastern therapies including Acupuncture.

Despite her fear of needles, Paula was quickly won over when she saw the almost instant pain relief this often ‘frowned upon treatment’ gave her. With the pain relief, came the ability to start physiotherapy and a stimulating boost of energy.

Although she suffered withdrawal symptoms including, strangely enough – insomnia, she persevered and eventually succeeded in beating the zzz monsters.

She says: “I was reluctant to take the sleeping pills because I thought they were addictive. I was told they wouldn’t be and went ahead because I had no choice I couldn’t sleep.

“For the first time I understood how badly insomnia can affect you. I was behaving out of character I over reacted to even the slightest upset. I couldn’t make decisions and needed my partner, Ken, to ‘prop’ me up all the time. I hated not being able to sleep without the aid of medication.”

 

Sleep Deprivation

During a series of operations on her shoulder, Paula got used to popping a sleeping pill for a good night’s sleep. She began to rely on them because she couldn’t function properly without them. This is common amongst insomniacs who then struggle to wean themselves off.

‘I realize we are designed to be active and lively all day and then have restorative sleep all night. Even a few hours of strong, deep sleep leaves the body and mind fit and fighting for another day!”

Gradually Paula began getting more involved in her and Ken’s business, Remote Employment, which is a website dedicated to home working, and realized she could make a real positive contribution.

The more involved she got with working the more determined she was to stop relying on the sleeping tablets. But it wasn’t that easy to quit. She realized how easily you could get hooked on them if she didn’t make a determined effort to stop taking them.

 

Weaning Off Sleeping Pills

She had to use other medication to gradually wean herself off them. She took other forms of painkillers to ease her discomfort and therefore help her to sleep, all the while gradually reducing the dose.

“I was determined to get off the sleeping tablets. I’m a naturally feisty person so I wasn’t willing to give up at the first sign that it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Paula tried all sorts of herbal alternatives and finally succeeded with Valerian Root and then weaned herself off these with Calcium vitamin pills.

Paula also often thinks of the millions of sleep deprived and her advice is to “open up to alternative therapy or holistic treatments” anything that will take one back to the natural state of rest and unconsciousness suspension.

Even a few glasses of wine is better than pills.

Since her story has appeared nationally, Paula has been contacted by people all over the world who suffer from sleep deprivation. The all ask her the same thing: how do you get off the pills?

Paula was strong enough of spirit and mind and with such a supportive partner in Ken, she managed to do it. She believes if you put your mind to it and want it badly enough, you can conquer sleeping pills.

Paula's personal advice:

  • See your doctor and ask for help to get off the pills
  • Be strong and determined to do it for yourself
  • Try alternative therapies such as herbal remedies or vitamins
  • Get out into the fresh air with walking or jogging - anything to take your mind off your issues that are causing the insomnia in the first place

Sleep is precious. It is only when you don’t have it, or have enough good stock that you realize just how precious it is. So, when you hit the sack tonight, before you drop off spare a ‘kip’ for all those sleepless souls around the UK.

Sleep tight.

 

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