Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sleep link & my sleep story

I just found this blog which is pretty good, and in particular this article about Asperger's and sleep issues:

I used to have significant difficulties with sleep, leading to a diagnosis of having a Circadian Rhythm Disorder earlier this year. This is one of many co-morbid conditions that typically appear with AS, according to many people in the community. Anyway, I have had many "cycles" where my sleep will gradually shift itself forward or backward overtime, to the point where I will be sleeping all day and will be awake all night. It will then shift back again a few weeks later, such that things seem to be back to normal and I can be "amongst the living" again. If only it was that easy though...

My troubles in this area started in middle school, though there were hints of it before that (I vaguely recall it being difficult to get in even in elementary school.) It got really really bad in high school, and with some of the social difficulties that were piled on top of it, it created a situation where I really had no motivation to try to fight it. The two things converging made it almost like I was paralyzed from such extreme tiredness - I simply couldn't get out of bed (this led to the idea that I was "depressed".) The sleep issue was at the core of my failures in high school, academically and socially.

It got worse after high school, and caused me to delay that transistion to full time work that many of my peers were making. I simply could not hold down a job that required me to get up "early" (at this stage, anything requiring me to be somewhere before 10 am), so I didn't even attempt to find that kind of work. Later, I did find myself in a position that I thought would be good to try to "grow up" and do the adult thing, but I failed miserably at it, and was let go... by a friend who I had known prior to working there (who brought me on). So, back to part time/retail hours I went for the next 5 years.

After moving to Savannah, I got stuck in a job in the construction field, so here I was again attempting to do what seemed to be the impossible. It turned out OK because the job started "later" (8 am) than most job sites, because it was a hotel renovation that didn't want work noise prior to 8 am. I had my moments there, but generally did OK. Sadly, that job finished a few months later, and that stuck me into the world of having to be at work at 7 am (or earlier) the rest of the way. It didn't take long after that to find myself having major problems with getting to work on time, leading to social pressure amongst my co-workers, which just snowballed my frustrations. I started having some problems with sleeping super super late, and I got extremely distraught over it, causing me to essentially (but not exactly) give up on work when I realized I just couldn't get up anywhere near close enough to on time (like 4 hours after the shift started). This started a series of firings due to pretty much abandoning the job, something like 5 straight jobs IIRC.

Today, having gotten a correct diagnosis and following a melatonin regimen has largely corrected the problem thus far. Granted I don't have to wake up at 6 am and be anywhere by 7 am, but I do find myself quite able to get up that early. I think I've had maybe 2 or 3 days where I've gotten up, looked at the clock, and gone "whoa! where did all my day go?!?!" Keeping a fairly consistent sleep schedule has certainly helped (no going out on the weekends, not there's much to do past 10 pm anyway) while taking melatonin in this type of manner:

.3 mg at 7:00 (+/1 an hour)
.6 mg an hour later
1 mg an hour after that
3 mg an hour after that
6 mg only if I'm still up 2 hours past my 3 mg dose, which doesn't happen often.

I'll have a much tougher school schedule this fall, when I will have to leave the house an hour earlier than I have been. That will be after a "summer of rest", where I don't have to be to class until 10am, Monday through Thursday. I hope to report back this December to say that I had success that semester just like I have had success this semester. :)

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