Sleep Disorders

I used to be able to sleep just fine, but I lost that ability with age.

Sleep disorders are common among autistic people. The fact that I progressively lost the ability to sleep normally is one of the reasons I think that I was starting to lose the ability to mask prior to my cancer, but that my cancer accelerated the process.

As a child, I was able to go to sleep just like anyone else. I did not need a sleep mask, or to hear white noise. Perhaps, however, the TV that my parents listened to when I was in bed provided a kind of noise conducive to sleep? I did not need sleep aids. I did not experience reflux. Sleeping away from home was not usually a major problem.

Probably up to around the age of 30, things were mostly fine, and then my sleep started deteriorating. Initially, I know I was able to manage it with antihistamines. I know their effect is supposed to fade after a few days, but it worked for quite a while for me. I don’t know or care to know if the placebo effect was at play. Eventually, however, they stopped working.

I started needing a sleep mask when sleeping. This also eventually became insufficient. I needed earplugs or white noise on top of the sleep mask. This also eventually became insufficient. Eventually, I started suffering from insomnia, even with all these precautions.

In parallel with my insomnia, I also developed reflux. For the longest time, I was able to eat a whole medium pizza by myself prior to going to bed. Eventually, however, doing this caused reflux at night. So I reduced my portion to half a medium pizza. This helped for a bit, but I got reflux again. So now I had to take anti-reflux medicine with my pizza. Nowadays, my reflux can show up without me necessarily doing anything to trigger it. Some nights I wake up and have to take anti-reflux medicine. This problem with reflux definitely became more intense after my cancer.

Concurrent with the reflux becoming more problematic, my insomnia got worse with my cancer. Even when the reflux was in check. Even when I had my sleep mask, my white noise and my squishmallow to hug, I still slept only two to three hours a night. Yes, I got a squishmallow at some point. I like it. The doctors tried giving me all kinds of medicines for it. The only prescription that worked, for a while, was Lunesta, then it stopped working. I had a similar experience with CBD. Then I moved to THC.

The hospital put two sleep specialists on my case, but they proved useless. I had told them that my bed was over 40 years old, but they did not latch onto this. No, they had me take a whole slew of test that I did not need. I pulled the plug on the tests and the devices that might have helped me (because nothing is ever guaranteed) when I saw a dentist who would have sold me a device over $600 to treat a very mild case of sleep apnea. The case was so mild that we did not think of dealing with it at first. When I separated from my wife, I got a new bed, and my sleep problems were solved. This is when I decided to fire those sleep specialists.

My old bed did not do to me anything clearly hurtful. I was not in pain when I was sleeping on it, but something in it did not sit well with me. Since I got my new bed, I’ve had some bad nights, but nothing like what happened before.

I’m quite baffled at the fact that the medicines I was prescribed did not do much for me. I’ve learned that autistic people can have rare reactions to medicines, or paradoxical reactions. A rare reaction is like the anti-reflux medicine that sent me into a deep depression for one month, after I had been taking it for over a year. A paradoxical reaction would be sleep medicine that keeps you awake. As far as I can tell, my sleep medicines simply did not make me sleepy, or they worked only for a limited time.

I’ve also noticed that what I need for sleep evolves with time. Something that used to be helpful becomes an obstacle, for whatever bizarre reason. I like to hug my squishmallow, but sometimes I have to set it aside. I’ve sometimes needed earplugs, but at other times the earplugs were too much. It is a bit maddening because I have to keep adjusting what I’m doing to get a good night of sleep.

I’m not sure that I’m ever going to find the perfect setup.






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