A new approach to fatigue: fixing sleep

It amazes me that some people go to sleep at night, sleep for 6-8 hours, and wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to start the day. I don’t think I’ve felt like that more than a few times in my entire life. But I’d like to try feeling that way more often.

Fatigue is a tricky symptoms. It can be caused by so many things. I’m pretty sure that mine is caused at least in part by my thyroid issues and adrenal problems, because as I fixed my adrenals, I felt better, and when I started dessicated thyroid they fatigue improved even more. I no longer fall asleep while reading (except in bed at night), I don’t nap during the afternoon, I can leave the house three days in a row without feeling like I’m going to collapse. Then again, I still have a ways to go. I can’t leave the house every day for a week, even if it’s only for small things. I can’t do laundry in the afternoon and then go out with friends for dinner. Spending an afternoon chatting with a friend is completely exhausting. I’m so grateful for all of my improvements, but I want to improve even more.

I’m trying new medications for my thyroid problems, and I’m hoping that will help, but I’m not going to assume that’s the solution. What’s if there’s another contributing factor? That’s why I saw a sleep doctor. This guy is one of the best around here, and I really liked him when I saw him many years ago. At that time, I did a sleep study that showed some apnea, but not enough for a cpap machine. That’s the machine where a mask over the face at night helps the person breathe. The doctor found that my circadian rhythm was off, like I was in permanent jet lag. He told me to take a very small dose of melatonin and use a blue light (sometimes called a sun lamp) in the mornings. That made a huge difference, and for a while I felt much better.

With the fatigue over the last couple of years, it seemed worth checking out my sleep again. Besides, I felt like I wasn’t sleeping well. I was waking up just as tired and sleepy as I’d felt when I’d gone to bed. In the last year, I’ve been having dreams that make me feel like my sleep isn’t as restful. In the last few months, I’ve been waking up a lot during the night. I knew something was wrong.

The downside of seeing such a top doctor is that he has very long waiting lists. I made an appointment in June and finally saw him in December. He suggested a few changes to the melatonin and blue light, and ordered some tests. One of those tests was a sleep study and his report on it popped up on my online hospital account today. (I’ll find out more when I meet with the doctor next week, but I can see notes as soon as he enters them into my records, which is awesome. I wish all of my doctors’ systems did this!) According to the doctor’s notes, I have sleep apnea and need to use a cpap machine. Ah hah! I knew it! Ok, I’m not happy about having to use the machine, especially as a single person who hopes to one day share my bed with someone else. On the other hand, what if this helps?! I can’t imagine anyone would feel energetic without ever getting proper sleep, so maybe this is one of the keys.

I don’t think this sleep issue is my entire problem. But maybe, just maybe, the sleep, thyroid, and adrenal issues combined are what’s causing the fatigue. I’m already addressing the thyroid and adrenal issues so maybe, just maybe, fixing the sleep problems will make me feel well enough to slowly, eventually, get my life back. Maybe I’ll be able to socialize more, get a job, and just¬†feel better!¬†Ok, I’m probably getting ahead of myself. It could take time. But what if…..?

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14 Responses to A new approach to fatigue: fixing sleep

  1. Really feel for you and your sleep issues. Just wondering, what adrenal issues do you have? X

    • chronicrants says:

      I have adrenal insufficiency, also called adrenal fatigue, but it’s been getting better. It happens a lot with untreated and maltreated hypothyroid, which I have.

      • Sorry to hear that. Ive stumbled across medical seminars on that condition when researching into mine ‘Secondary Adrenal Insufficiency’ . I’m glad to hear its been getting better. What treatment have you found has helped? (if you don’t mind my asking of course)

      • chronicrants says:

        You can always ask, Samantha! I’m an open book, except for my identity (which is why I feel safe being an open book :) ) Mine is secondary, too. I have Hashimoto’s Disease and Hypothyroid, and since they weren’t treated properly for many years, I developed adrenal problems and others. I saw a naturopath who helped me fix them. I went on a diet to fix leaky gut, which helped my gastro problems and also helped my immune system. I took Isocort, a common supplement for adrenal support, and something called Bioadaptogen Ultra, which has licorice, ashwaghanda, etc. I also did some detox to remove toxins, took vitamin D, and took multivitamins. My iron levels were low and supplements hadn’t helped over the years, so I did infusions. I think there might have been more, but those were the main things to start.

        Once my leaky gut was fixed, I was on a better thyroid med, I’d raised my iron, and my adrenals were stronger, I started the next stage. I continued with the Bioadptogen but removed the Isocort, and I started doing something called CT3M with the thyroid meds. You can read about it here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/t3-circadian-method-for-adrenals/

        Some doctors prescribe steroids, but I was borderline for needing them and I wanted to avoid them if possible. That’s why I took this route. I’m not there yet, but I’ve made enormous improvement. This has really helped me. But like I said, I did this with professional guidance. I’m not suggesting this for anyone else. I’m not a doctor, etc.

        Have you found anything to be helpful?

      • not as yet , sorry for the delay in response, i have been more poorly then usual for the pass month and a bit. i haven’t found anything to help, other then start juicing fruit and veg perhaps. i actually have no idea what to do to help myself any more…I’m open to anything as i just want to get better. i am pleased you have found something to help yourself…it a slow journey but hopefully a fulfilling one. i hope your doing okay still :-) ? xx

      • chronicrants says:

        I’m sorry to hear you’re having so much trouble! Feel free to email me if you’d like to talk more specifically about your situation (msrants at gmail dot com) but in the meantime, I hope you can find something else to help. Is there a support group near you? How about on Facebook or Twitter? I’ve found a surprising amount of useful information in groups there. Good luck!

  2. Jess says:

    Good luck hun! Sleep issues are the worst. I’ve never had an issue falling or staying asleep, just feeling refreshed afterwards.

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks. I had that problem for a long time, too. It was infuriating, because I felt there was nothing I could do since it seemed that I was sleeping all day. I’m hoping the cpap helps with that. Have you ever gotten examined?

  3. Mary Freeman says:

    It will help! I had similar issues with fatigue i was also experiencing extreme fatigue during the day. I had my first study and they said everything was great! I felt like wtf? I mean i’m glad if i don’t but why the hell am i so freaking tired then? Imagine my surprise when something pops up in my email regarding my health information. I check it out and in addition to all my other problems boing! Sleep apnea, right there, before I’ve even talked to a doc. A couple months later, my day time sleepiness is greatly decreased and I’m seeing an increase in energy some days. They take some getting used to and you may not see improvement for a few weeks. Hang in there and be patient, it just takes a bit of time.

    • chronicrants says:

      Thanks for the encouragement and for setting expectations, Mary! One of my questions for my doctor is how long it will take for me to notice anything. I’m glad to hear that it’s helping you so far!

  4. Karen J says:

    My understanding of how those machines work is that they essentially “take over inhaling for you” – wondering if anyone has ever successfully *stopped* using a C-Pap machine?

  5. […] the same time, I did some of the testing that the sleep doctor wanted me to do. Some of it came back normal, which is good. Some of it didn’t, though. As it […]

  6. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little research on this.
    And he actually bought me dinner simply because I
    discovered it for him… lol. So let me
    reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah,
    thanks for spending some time to discuss this matter here
    on your web page.

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