Obviously, Lori can’t sleep…
You have just finished a grueling workout, you’ve replenished your lost nutrients; you are dog tired. You drag yourself into bed and find yourself lying there for hours, inexplicably unable to sleep. You turn on the TV, you pace around, you text your friends. Watching the clock click away, dreading the morning.
Or you fall asleep, and within an hour, you wake up and toss and turn all night long. It’s the same outcome – too little sleep and no chance to recover from your workout, and little chance for your workout to translate into muscle growth.
You are suffering from Insomnia.
There are three types of insomnia, the condition of disordered sleep. The first is called onset insomnia, which is the inability to fall asleep. You lie in bed, sometimes for hours, even though you may be quite physically tired, and yet you cannot fall asleep. The second type of insomnia is called durational insomnia, which means that although you have no difficulty falling asleep, you wake up frequently during the night, often times within one hour of falling asleep. Resultantly you are then tossing and turning, trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. The third type is a combination of the first two, onset and durational insomnia – you can’t easily fall asleep, and then once you do, you can’t stay asleep.
Insomnia can occur suddenly, a result of an acute illness, pain, overtraining, certain drugs or supplements, or emotional problems, like stress or anxiety. It can also be chronic, going on often times for months or even years. Once sleep architecture has become disordered, it can become a self-perpetuating condition. Your body gets accustomed to frequent awakenings. It can be likened to a baby continuing to wake up for a two AM feeding although the baby isn’t hungry. The baby has formed a habit of awakening, and our brains can do the same thing even though we are adults.
We usually are our own worst enemy too when it comes to perpetuating the problem. Once awakened, the first thing most people do is look at the clock. You start mental mathematics, calculating how few hours of sleep you’ve had and how terrible the morning will be. Often times we get up and turn on a light or use the bathroom. Once the light is on, the deep center of our brain’s reflexes believe it is the sun. Each of these activities causes us to wake up even more, and raising our level of conscious thought, getting further away from being able to return to sleep.
Frequent awakening can be a sign of a very dangerous condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea which is usually noticed by a significant other as their partner snoring during the night with periods of apparent breath holding, and often with audible gasps or snorts then a return to sleep. This condition can literally kill you while you sleep. It is dangerous and very common to bodybuilders, although it is rarely diagnosed. The usual patient prone to this condition is an obese middle aged man, not a young and otherwise healthy athlete.
Another often missed cause of insomnia is Restless Leg Syndrome. Although it causes periodic limb movement, often times the patient does not feel the movement, rather, just knows that they wake up during the night. It can begin earlier in the evening while watching TV or at a movie, and is described as an uncomfortable crawling sensation of the skin and muscles of the legs which is instantly relieved by getting up and walking around. It returns when lying down again.
There are different tests which can determine the causes of insomnia, and the treatments for each type are different. A careful evaluation of all of the factors associated with sleep disturbance is critical to the proper treatment.
If after reading this, you feel that you are ired of suffering with Insomnia, please contact me through my website at www.DrMarilynLajoie.com . There is a Telemedicine for Athletes page for alternatives to an office visit.