Just Go And Sleep It Off

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 1, 2019

(I’ve had problems sleeping most of my life. I’ve mentioned this to doctors before, but I have always been told it is stress and/or that I’ll grow out of it by the time I am 20. I finally go to a new doctor at age 23 to try to get a sleep study to find out if there’s an underlying issue, and I decide before going in that I am not taking no for an answer, collecting everything I can to back my case up. This is my exchange with the doctor.)

Me: “I’ve hardly had what constitutes a ‘good night’s sleep’ in ten years. It takes me two hours to fall asleep at night, regardless of what time I go to sleep, but during the daytime, I can fall asleep within minutes.”

Doctor: “Well, maybe if you didn’t take naps, you wouldn’t have a problem. Why don’t you try that?”

Me: “I have, actually. I’ve done tests on myself using a sleep tracking app and trying two-month test periods of going all day every day without a nap, and then again taking a thirty-minute nap each day. There’s next to no change in the nighttime data, and my self-rating of how I feel after I wake up is the same, too. I’ve repeated this for the past year with variables like listening to music and using a weighted blanket with the same results.”

(I show him the graphs I’ve made from my data.)

Me: “Not to mention, I hardly spend any time in deep sleep. It’s all light.”

Doctor: “Well, sleep tracking apps can be very unreliable. You shouldn’t trust it just because it’s on your phone. Even though it says you’re in light sleep, you might be getting deep sleep.”

Me: “I know it’s not 100% accurate, but it still shows approximately when I fall asleep, and it’s never less an hour and a half, and that’s on my best nights.”

Doctor: “That’s normal! You’ll grow out of it!”

Me: “But when? I can’t wait until my 30s to ‘grow out of it.’ It’s affecting both my work and home lives. I can barely get any housework done on the weekends or after work because I’m too tired, I sleep through holidays with my family, and I have to call into work at least once a month due to exhaustion. Just last week, I was pulled over because a cop saw me nodding off at a red light.”

Doctor: “Just get some melatonin and you’ll fall asleep in no time. And if that doesn’t work, try valerian!”

Me: “I have. Both of them. There’s no effect on how long it takes me to get to sleep or how I feel when I wake up. If anything, I feel worse in the mornings after I take them. I really think I need a sleep study to figure out if there’s something wrong with me. I’ve literally broken down crying because I was so tired before.”

Doctor: “Are you sure it isn’t just PMS?”

(We go back and forth like this for almost fifteen minutes, him suggesting ideas and me telling him I’ve already done it and recorded my data — all of which I’ve already mentioned to the nurse and on my new patient forms. I’m growing frustrated and, thanks in part to the continuing exhaustion, nearly start crying again under his line of questioning. Finally, I’ve had enough.)

Me: “I am not leaving this office until you set me up with a neurologist for a sleep study. I have a family history of sleep apnea, and I need answers.”

Doctor: “So, you want drugs, that’s it. You’re too young and skinny to have sleep apnea.”

Me: “What? Sleep studies don’t even involve drugs! I am literally getting less than five hours of sleep a night; that should be reason enough for me to get a sleep study right there!”

Doctor: “I don’t work with people hunting for drugs.”

Me: “And I don’t work with f****** crackpots who don’t listen to their patients!”

(I stormed out without paying and reported him to my insurance, and I have an appointment with a new doctor this Friday. Hopefully, this one will actually listen to me.)

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