But sometimes our bodies get out of whack. Individuals who are having issues with a non-functioning autonomic system or patients of dysautonomia experience such adverse affects usually between the hours of 10 pm - 2 am. One such person explains the following:
"It registers for a moment before it happens – I’m consciously aware that I’m asleep. Peacefully asleep, but I can sense that’s all about to change. Like the calm before the storm. I awake with the loud drumbeat of my heart in my ears and bolt upright. I scan the dark room to orient my surroundings. Good, I’m at home. Good, the BF is here, and no one else. Good, I’m not dead. I can hear the hurried breaths of air being forced in and out of lungs, and pray it is mine. A heightened perception of awareness invades my senses and suddenly I am mindful of every object in the room. The comforter has drifted two inches to the left from the last time I awoke, the soft hum of the fridge has increased one decibel, and I don’t like the scheming look the nightstand is giving me. I am overcome with the most basic instinct of survival: to fight it out, or flee. But there is no one to fight, and nowhere to flee. I try to slow my breath while whispering over and over, “There is no danger here. There is no danger here.” Eventually I lie back down, content for the moment to neither fight nor flee. After all, I am still in my reindeer jammies." - musing of a dysautomiac
There is little medical research for answering reasons why such things happen at night. But, it is noted that many fibromyalgia patients experience such invasive consequences periodically throughout the month. Another man, emud on MedHelp, experiences such events and writes:
"For the last two weeks I haven’t been able to get to sleep. I was going nuts. I would start to drift off, then a surge of adrenaline would wash over me and that would be the end of sleep. Determination or laziness would keep me trying to sleep all night until I would drift off for a few hours out of sheer exhaustion. Not enough sleep, if it was sleep at all, but at least I was able to function.
I started trying all the usual suspects in sleepless remedies. Chamomile tea, over the counter sleep aids. No good. While watching a TV show, I was envious of the characters that had pot because of how relaxed they looked and how easily they went to sleep. Still, my faith and regard for my health would not let me turn to drugs or drink. Whatever was going on, I needed to solve it or suffer.
In my search for help, one piece of advice was very important to get started with. Whatever is happening is not meant to hurt you. The affects hurt, certainly, but the root of the problem is not meant to hurt you. I’ll explain in my theory. My theory is that something happened to trigger the adrenaline surge the first time. For me, I can’t remember what it was. That’s why this was so baffling to me. I don’t know what started it. But fear of it happening again, of not getting to sleep again, triggered a response from my mind. If sleep was going to be a problem, then it was going to help me out with that. (The mind is an amazing and complicated organ.) See it like the immune system deciding to attack some part of the body. It happens, and the affects are harmful, but it was just a response to something body thought it had to defend against. So my mind set up an alarm system. If I began to sleep it would send out adrenaline to keep me awake. Even when I was so desperately tired I couldn't have been afraid of anything, the alarm system was still set up in my mind. It got to where even thinking about sleep would bring on the surges."
But it is the last paragraph that had a solidifying effect on me.
"It was that last side effect that really led me to understand what was happening. And using advice I gleaned from countless anxiety websites and blogs, I talked to myself. Yeah, not something I thought would lead to a cure, but there it is. I knew I had to tell my mind that sleep was safe. My mind was confused and needed to be reset about sleep. So, last night I focused on all the happy memories of sleep. I repeated in my mind things like, “sleep is safe. Sleep is good.” I made sure to include the feelings of safety, comfort, peace. The memory of a truly comfortable spot in the bed, of clean soft sheets. I did this right as I was falling asleep until there was no response to the thought of sleep. And I am happy to say I got seven hours of peaceful sleep last night."
I read it twice. Oh, how I can commiserate that medicines just don't seem to work on your heightened awareness when your body is in overdrive and in that condition! But his words laid rest, yes, it felt as though my mind was setting off an alarm clock to spring me into action instead of resting. For me, as this condition first manifests, I feel a jolt of electricity cursing through my body that immediately awakens me into full cognitive mode no matter how tired I was. So, I began emud's technique. I began speaking to mind throughout the day reminding it how I love sleep. How sleep is beneficial for me. Most importantly, despite unwelcomed meetings and doctor's appointments it is OK to sleep soundly the night before hand. It will better prepare me for what lies ahead. I must remind my mind there is nothing I can prepare for at that moment when I am under the covers.
I can tell you the last three days I slept very soundly. More so than I have before. I will continue to do this new mantra every quiet moment I have throughout the day. I will essentially begin to reprogram my mind.