A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘sleep’ Category

Hyperarousal and Hyperviligance

I have lived with insomnia for many years. I remember as a young teen sitting in my parent’s living room watching the slow dying glow of a log burning in the fire place. It was the middle of the night. I was told as a very young child that I used to sleep walk and I actually fell down the stairs. I can remember when I was 30 the sleep walking started up again and I also had other sleep issues. The biggest issue I have now is related to PTSD. This is when you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep for hours. But there is more to this than a bit of anxiety. It is hyperarousal.

Hyperarousal can be defined as the state of being aroused, on guard, being overly alert and perceptive. The person who is suffering from hyperarousal is actually in the middle of the ‘fight-or-flight’ reflex that occurs when the brain sends out signals of impending danger or feels threatened. It puts the body on guard – ready to run away or stand and fight. Either way the heart beats faster, the eyes dilate, breathing is shallower and you become very alert. https://www.sixstepstosleep.com/hyperarousal-insomnia-sleep-anxiety/

I suffer from hyperarousal during the day as well. But in the middle of the night, this beast rears its ugly head and I am struggling for hours. If I do fall back asleep, I usually end up with a nightmare of some sort. All this is chemically regulated in the body. I do not know what exactly the trigger is all the time for me, but it happens when I am in a state of stress. I can perseverate on the smallest detail and by the end of an episode; I will have worried myself into a real frenzy.

Two weeks ago I actually got up and took my blood pressure and the reading was extremely high. But it was high all week from the stress of leaving my job. The physical condition I was in from the pressure of work and the all BS going on played havoc with me. But even with being away from the situation, I am able to find other things to fret about.

Hyperarousal also causes me to erupt. I can over react to the smallest things such as simply dropping something. I get frustrated very easily and have an over the top reaction. For me, it is compounded with the high level of pain I am in from my psoriatic arthritis. Unfortunately, it is a nasty loop. I get mad from being in pain and limited in my mobility and then I get a flare from being upset. They feed each other and around I go.

Compounding the situation is the sister reaction to hyperarousal which is hypervigilance. That is when you are always on alert. This is when you constantly are scanning for threats. When I was first diagnosed with PTSD, the therapist said I was like a trapped animal. I never turned my back to him. I constantly watched every move he made, especially with his hands. I think I am better but when I get threatened or perceive I am being threatened, I go back to being hypervigilant. I realize now that the past couple of years being in the toxic work environment I was in really set me back. A result of being hypervigilant is being exhausted. So I fall asleep very quickly but wake up in the middle of the night. On average, I sleep in two to three hour blocks. A good night is when I can sleep with a four hour block.

I write this not as a venue to complain but to share for someone who is going through similar things. There is comfort in knowing that you are not alone. I am planning on talking with my doctor about this if my sleep does not get any better. They recommended last year I seek retirement. It has been a long haul getting away from work and the nasty people I worked with. I have had some things going on in my home which has been concerning so I have not been able to totally calm down. But I am physically more active at home and that helps. I also need to get back to a strong practice of meditation again. That really helps. I already feel better and I know I am healing. But it is a slow path.



Out of alignement


I am not sure if it is just the residual energy left over from the fall sleazy presidential campaign bull crap, but the New Year seems to be slimed. I do not know how else to explain the consistent nastiness and negative energy I feel everywhere. Even in my own home, things are off kilter. My computer is acting very strange and slow, our toilet is difficult to flush, our phone lines were filled with buzzing and the big bad thing is our bed. When you do not sleep, nothing goes well.

I think I have spent the last two weeks in the world of the worst con-artists and researching the worse scam propagated on the human raise. Mattress buying… it is worse than any experience I have had in purchasing a major household item.

I have not slept well in months. Even prior to that, for over two years, there would be mornings that both of us thought we had been run over. We would turn the mattress and it would be better. We figured the mattress we had was at least 6 years old and maybe it was time to do something about it.

Off we went to City Mattress. If this was a movie, the set would dim, music would get ominous, smoke would be billowing on the floor and the salesmen would all have red eyes. We had them look up when we bought the current mattress we have and it turns out to be only three years old. I was completely shocked. How could a $2500.00 mattress turn to a lumpy-dumpy sagging pile of fiber in that short amount of time?

The salesman said that there was an issue with the mattress and many were failing. They would come out and look at it, and give us a rebate towards a new mattress. “OK”, I thought. It would have to have indents of at least two inches. “No problem, they are deeper than that.”

When I got home, I started doing research only to find that a sagging broken mattress is so very common that there are devoted websites to the issue. I read through them. I look for solutions. I compare mattress types and pricing. I looked up store ratings. There is a whole world out there devoted to this plague of consumer rip off.

The situation of being  flim-flamed and  ripped off from creepy salesmen who feed bullshit about products they know nothing about has turned the consumers to buying mattress on line. People trust Amazon more than any other company to ship the right bed and honor their return agreements. There were stories of people buying one mattress at MetroMattress and getting a different inferior product delivered. And then they would not take it back. One person got the right model, but it was a used mattress. Ewww.

They rely on people thinking that the warrantee they offer is rock solid and protects the buyer. Hell no, it protects the company. They are very clear about the level of indentations required. You cannot have any stains on the mattress and the warranty is void if the bed “is not set up correctly.” And who sets up the bed???

So, our warranty was useless. He did not even measure. Our little brown dog has marked the bed several times and it went through the mattress pad and stained the mattress. And he said the bed was not set up correctly as it did not have a middle leg brace. They set it up for us…..AND when I was inspecting the bed, we do not have the foundation box springs that were supposed to be with that bed. They switched out the boxsprings and I never noticed until now.

There are a lot of products out there to fix sagging mattress and they too are a rip off. The best fix is $70.00 each and they do not last very long either, according to the reviews. People had all sorts of hacks. One was pillows. Others placed foam. I thought the foam was a great idea and so off we went to purchase some. I did research on the density and size needed. Turns out it would cost me $130.00 to buy the right foam to fix the issue.

Frustrated, sore and tired, I told my hubby lets go to one more store and look at mattresses. This store, Sleep City, had great reviews, but a very limited stock. Short story: we bought a new mattress. He threw in a new frame and a waterproof mattress cover. Set up and delivery was free and the price was fair. I did not buy the top of the line mattress but one that the research said was fair. Even so, the price was close to 2K. It is coming next weekend.

Back home, we had torn the existing bed apart in the hopes of getting foam and fixing the issue cheaply. I decided to put pillows under the mattress where the bed sagged. This was a common fix. It did fill in the holes and the indent was gone. But who knew I was such a princess and the pea kind of sleeper. Yes, the sag was totally gone, but now the bed was uncomfortable in a different way. I woke up this morning at 3am with my back and hips flaring like someone had put hot coals there.

If you have not bought a mattress in a while, be prepared. The cost is ridiculous. There are many factors in making your purchase such as materials, durability, what type of sleeper you are and how big you are. The ideal mattress for us would have been a latex foam which ran about 5-6K and we would have had to have it shipped and it would be extremely heavy. We would have had to drag our old mattress out and bring the new one upstairs ourselves. No can do. As it is, just moving the existing one hurt both of us yesterday.

The days of having one mattress for life are over. This crappy mattress is only the third one in my adult life. The last mattress was over 20 years old and we only replaced it with the shitty one we have because it came from my first marriage. My parents had the same mattress for over thirty years.

Until consumers are well armed and stand up to the lies and poor quality, this is an area of scamming that will continue. You have to sleep. It is just one more corner of the world where people blindly walk in unassuming and believing they are going to be treated fairly. Buyer beware.

PS: Last week I posted something from the Ace blog site. I am formulating a blog with my own experience and message as a Trauma Informed Specialist.