From Insomniac to Vegan
I don't sleep well. Most of my friends are pretty aware because I tend to be grumpy on the daily. It's laughable to me because my teammates used to make fun of me for how much I slept. I used to show up to the airport in sweats and a sweatshirt because I was ready to sleep the entire 12 hour flight to Europe, which I did...every time. Here is a sneaky pic my teammates took of me sleeping on a stranger's shoulder. I was like that for 4 hours...love knows no boundaries.
I took naps every afternoon during my training years, even if it was only for 15 minutes. I even took naps in my spandex in the start house whenever we had too much time on our hands. I'm telling you, I was good at it. Fast forward 6 years and I can't remember the last time I slept through the night without waking up. It wasn't a big deal in college because I could always squeeze in a nap somewhere. However when I started a real person job, there was not a minute in my day to just take a snooze. I slowly started to crumble. I would show up to work feeling like I got 2 hours of sleep when in reality I went to bed at 9:30. I tried it all: melatonin, magnesium, a sound machine, sleep apps, meditation, my parents even bought me this soda that NBA players drink to help them sleep. I went the distance. Yet my brain still could not turn off at night. I would wake up 4-5 times a night sleep talking like there was someone in my room. It would be like you having a conversation with someone in real life and then they don't respond and it's really awkward, then I realize it is just a dream. Last summer I traveled with my best friend for 3 months and she saw first hand what this was all about. She woke up the first few times thinking I was talking to her but realized how bad it was when my eyes would be wide open talking to someone that was not there.
Needless to say. Sleep was ruining my life. I didn't have the energy to keep up at work. I couldn't be social because by the time I was home and fed, I was going to bed in an hour and a half.
I learned a lot during this time because I have never really felt discomfort that no one else could see. Well actually that's a lie, I have been anxious and depressed before but this was different. This was lasting more than a few days and I couldn't cover my sleep deprived eyes.
One day I hit rock bottom and I started researching. I found this sleep clinic where I would stay overnight and they would monitor my brain waves while I slept. It was going to cost me about 2,000$. I'm a pretty frugal person but I did not even care how much money it was going to take to figure this out. So I went. They wired me up and I couldn't resist throwing this in:
The clinic consisted of one overnight stay then the next day I had to take a 15-minute nap every two hours. Honestly this was my dream day. They were monitoring how fast I fell asleep in those naps, if it was less than 8 minutes then technically I would be on the spectrum for an insomniac. I fell asleep in less than 5 minutes every time and sometimes in 1 minute. One follow-up appointment later I was told I have Idiopathic Hypersomnia. Excuse me...what? Can you spell that please? He said that pretty much I am chronically sleepy, I was born with it and it manifested as a teenager. No matter how many hours of sleep I try and get I will never feel rested. Ultimately, I am chronically sleepy and there is nothing I can do about it. He also mentioned that there is no cure and there was a pill I could take every day that would help me lead a "functional life". I was floored. And wanted to cry. I responded, "So this is real, this is a thing?" and he gave an affirmative. He said I've had it for years I just never knew it.
He prescribed me Modafinil which is a "wake-promoting" medication. It was not going to help me sleep, it was going to help me stay awake during the day. I asked him about holistic options and he said usually everyone that tries that ends up coming back. I was in denial for a few days until I hit another rock bottom and went and got the medication. Let me tell you the first day I took that pill I was on fire at work. I was so attentive, had plenty of energy and was just excited about life. However the more I took the medication the worse my excema got and I just couldnt fathom that my only answer was to take a pill. So I set off on another hunt. I prayed a lot and was super hopeful. Took about month or two but I got wind of this lady who is a foot zoner. For those of you that don't know, check this website . For those not interested in the scientific defintion, here's mine: They say your feet are the road map to the rest of your body. So in theory someone is able to feel your feet and the pressure points and able to read what is going on with your stomache, liver, brain...have I lost you yet? I've been to therapist, energists, even a star chart reader (this one is for you mom), so this idea of feet explaining what is going on with my body was no weird to me. So I went, first thing she says,
"You don't get enough sleep do you?"
"Nope that is exaclty why I am here."
"OK got it ya I can tell cause your pituitary gland is swollen"
She meant business. She proceeded to tell me how I have a lot of brain trauma and how my lymph system is jacked up because of how many supplements I took in my lifetime. Granted she had no idea about the Luge thing. When I told her, she shrugged and said, "Makes sense." Whoever is reading this should know that I have had my fair share of concussions, some treated some not. And if you have read this post then you will see how many protein shakes I've actually consumed. Not to mention that amount of Creatine and Vitamins I was taking. As if that was not proving enough, the part where I jumped on board was when she said, "You have not hit REM in a really long time." I asked her how long and she said, "It has been about 10 years." LITTLE DID SHE KNOW that 10 years prior was when I was 15 and I moved out of the house to pursue this sledding career. I was sold.
Fast forward a few months. She has me eating only fruits and veggies to clear out my system. No meat, no dairy, no sugar, no gluten. Don't feel sorry for me, I love it. I have to eat this strict for the first few months to clear everything out but when my body is ready for it I'll incorporate meat once in a blue moon. For anyone that is apart of the Mormon church, I am ultimately eating the Word of Wisdom. Meat sparingly and natural foods. For those that have no idea what I am talking about, check this. Here is my baptism into natural foods, my first gluten-free and vegan pizza, I am not going to act like it was just as good as the real thing but it got the job done:
As long as I have some form of pizza and ice cream, then I am good for life. I figured out how to make sugar free and vegan ice cream, maybe I'll write about it later but I just want you to know that it is possible and you wish you were having some right meow.
She also mentioned that my brain is not getting enough blood flow or oxygen. A comparison she made is my blood is apparently running through a straw and it should be running through a hose which is why my brain does not shut off and I don't sleep. It's starving. She has me diffusing oils at night and putting them on my face. Drinking tea every day and breathing exercises that help my brain get enough oxygen.
Oh another thing that was fascinating. Peanuts and corn. She had me stop eating anything with peanuts because apparently peanuts have mold on them and they mess with your sinuses. Anyone that knows me (or my dad) knows that I have bad sinuses, dating way back since I could remember. I even went to a ENT doctor one time because I thought I had a deviated septum. Anyways, because peanuts are stored for so long before being sold they accumulate mold. Sounds a little off the path BUT I haven 't had anything peanuts and I haven't taken any sinus medication since. So you do the math. Corn, also with corn apparently there are GMO's in them. The US market is so saturated that it's hard to find actually healthy corn. So chips and salsa are my main grind, total comfort food. Same with tacos. A couple weeks ago I was not sleeping super well, we looked at my diet and she told me to stop with the corn. Which mind you there is corn in EVERYTHING but I will say I have slept a lot better since. Placebo? Sure, call it what you want but either way, I haven't slept in years so I am grateful for anything I can get.
Anyways sorry this one is long but I wished more people would have written about sleep disorders when I was learning about them so figured I would at least share my story.