Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Getting to the Bottom of Sleep Problems

Monday afternoon, as I thought about my sleep issues, two things occurred to me:

1) I'd bought a different brand of melatonin. Everyone knows that each company prepares its herbal supplements and vitamins in different ways. So, I went and found the original brand I started using. When I picked up the bottle, there, up front and center, were the words, "timed release"! Ding ding ding ding ... lights went off . .. oh, yeah, that might make a difference!! My body probably metabolized the other brand fairly quickly and the amount of melatonin in my system probably disappeared after just a few hours and then I couldn't sleep. As the label says, "Time release melatonin is formulated to allow for a gradual release of the active ingredient during an approximate six hour period. This provides the body with a more even absorption of melatonin."

2) Several weeks ago, I switched to taking Tykerb after lunch instead of mid-morning. You need to take Tykerb an hour before eating and then you need to wait another hour to eat again. When I first started taking the meds, I'd have breakfast (with Xeloda) and then wait an hour and take the Tykerb, but sometimes because of meetings and appointments, it got to the point where I was taking it at about 11am instead of 10am and then having to wait until noon to eat lunch. Well, the joke in the department is that at 11:15am, I'm usually roaming the halls looking for someone to go to lunch with. My previous habit was to eat a couple of times in the morning (toast, then a mid-morning snack), but taking Tykerb and having to have a two-hour period where I didn't eat anything was getting really tough. So, then it occurred to me to wait to take Tykerb until after lunch because I am able to go several hours then without eating. But, one of the side effects of Tykerb is "trouble sleeping". Monday afternoon, I realized that I probably had a higher level of Tykerb in my system around 9-10pm then I did when I took Tykerb in the morning. So, yesterday, when I woke at 6am (which I usually do and then I doze until about 7am), I took Tykerb then. Worked out fine. No issues with the digestive system.

And, the end result? I slept better last night. Still not great, but better. I fell asleep by 11:30pm, woke up at 1:30am and then slept solidly until 4:45am and then until 6am. So, at least 6-6.5 hours of good sleep. Better than 3 or 4 that I'd been getting.

Whew! Man. It's always something! And, trying to figure out what things you need to tweak to in order to deal with side effects (low blood sugar from not eating versus not sleeping) ... hell, you need to be your own detective!

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