I have had a disrupted sleep since I was a kid, but it didn’t become chronic until I grew up and assumed the anxiety of the adult, whereupon it became a real problem, requiring drugs that were hard to get. Doctors would be abstemious and hard-nosed about prescribing them, so I tried all their various recommendations, and even taught myself to meditate which took ten years. The result? I became so depleted, I contracted Chronic Fatigue Syndrome from a trio of the many herpes viruses which basically eviscerated my energy, and sent me into a quiet, a very quiet, too quiet life. The eight or nine herpes viruses are carried by most of us, but they need stressors to become active. I provided them with many stressors, moving countries, continents, chasing stories from dawn to dusk and parties from dusk to dawn.
We now know that 80 million Americans suffer from a variety of sleep problems and that there are 80 kinds of sleep disorders. By the time I was 40, I found that a tiny dose of an old-fashioned anti-depressant could deliver a night of sleep, and my life began to improve, radically and fast. But fifteen years of broken sleep has rendered me paranoid and worried, so last summer I bought an Oura Ring, which is the most sophisticated sleep tracker on the market to date.
Below I attach the Oura’s records of last night’s sleep. I have about 20 data points to consider. First of all, I know I was over-tired by supper-time, but instead of a nap, I powered through and by 10 pm, I was frazzled and it was hard to sleep – took me almost 80 minutes. And I woke constantly, through the night. My heart rate was high, my deep sleep low. Based on the data, I am more aware. I can make adjustments. The reason this is important is that the 20% of us (Please see my RCCX Theory essay, linked here ) who carry this sensitivity, which goes along with a more intense sensibility, can easily tip into complete sleeplessness. More and more people are recognizing that they are carriers and that their lives are impacted. Last month Justin Bieber confessed to the syndrome, his manifests as Lyme and it sent him to Christianity and marriage. Lady Gaga has it. Morgan Freeman, ‘Girl’s’ creator, Lena Dunham, Cher, and a host of others less famous. Ten million Americans and between 3 and 6% of the world’s population are sick with fibromyalgia, which is cousin to CFS.
Last week, a woman just south of me, Darden Burns, who had CFS for decades, killed herself because she hadn’t slept for months. Everything she tried worked for a while, then failed. Her life was heroic and makes it clear that, if you want to live, you must apply sleep hygiene. You must be conscious.
Next week Your Best Sleep Ever, an alternative medicine approach to improving sleep begins. It’s free and you can register here.