Tuesday, June 14, 2011
One of my readers commented on the amount of time her husband spent sleeping. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that alcoholics sleep more in the daytime than they do at night. It’s just a fact of alcoholism. It has to do with the alcohol saturation in the front lobe.
The reader’s alcoholic husband does not understand why he is sleeping so poorly at night. He was so concerned that he mentioned it to his doctor and the doctor sent over a sleep monitor to try to discover the cause of his sleepless nights.
Of course, the wife was shocked and confused as to “why” the doctor could not figure this out without the assistance of a monitor. She knew the reason he did not sleep at night was because he sleeps all day and is an end-stage alcoholic. It didn’t seem so complicated to figure out. If the doc really wanted to know what was going on – why didn’t he just ask her???
To prove her point, she kept track of her husband’s sleeping hours and came up with a total of 12 snoozing hours every day. It would vary at times – sometimes nine, sometimes 13. But it all seemed to average out to about 12 hours.
Now she started doing the math. If an adult human requires between seven and eight hours of sleep a night and her husband is sleeping 12 hours a day, he would be sleeping 24 hours each day!!
Her response to this discovery was:
“I think when you reach 24 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period, they call that DEAD.”
So now the doctor is going to spend insurance money on trying to figure out the WHY of the sleeplessness?? She could have saved him a lot of time and money, if he had just asked. But, as is most often the case, the doctors don’t ask the person who is the most knowledgeable and clear headed in the household. Caretakers’ opinions are often discounted especially when the alcoholic appears to be relatively cognizant.
I know I often give doctors a bad time on my blog. But, really, come on, would you ask a person who is dying of cancer and on a morphine drip – how they are sleeping? Of course not. The doctor will ask the caretaker for an update. Maybe it’s an extreme comparison – but in my opinion – an end-stage alcoholic is always on a morphine drip called liquor. The last time any alcoholic can give an accurate description of his/her condition would be the last day of sobriety. After that, things get muddled.
Anyway… this gets better… I was so amused with the e-mail that my reader sent to me, that I was in my office heartily laughing at my computer screen when Riley walked in. He sat down and just watched me for a few minutes. I was typing a response and snickering. Finally, he asked – “Did Georgia sent you another joke?”
I felt compelled to tell him, but I assessed his state of mind first. He seemed pretty clear at the moment – it was early morning and he was usually at his most sane during that time. So I told him about the alcoholic husband who sleeps the entire day and doesn’t know why he can’t sleep at night.
I should have known better than to share. This was a mistake.
We had a little discussion and it seemed harmless enough. But, when he went to take his first nap of the day he asked me to write down the time so I could keep track of how much time he spends sleeping.
WHAT??? Why would I want to do that??? He angrily stated that if I was going to accuse him of sleeping 16 hours a day – he wanted to prove that I was wrong. He continued by saying he was 70 years old and it was OK for him to nap during the day.
I guess he wasn’t as clear as I thought he was. I quickly replied that I NEVER said he slept 16 hours a day. I told him I wasn’t talking about him – I was talking about my reader’s husband. Then I went on to explain that alcoholics sleep more during the day and alcohol often prevents alcoholics from sleeping at night. It was a fact that I did not manufacture.
Again he protested with something about being 70 years old and taking naps when he was sober… blah… blah… blah…
I asked if he considered himself to be an alcoholic. His answer was YES.
So why did he think that he would not have the some symptoms and conditions that were common to an alcoholic, such as, the inability to sleep at night? His answer was MAYBE THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON LIKE DEPRESSION.
I agreed, but depression combined with alcohol only makes the sleep factor worse. Alcohol is a depressant when consumed by someone who is already depressed it can be extremely dangerous. In my opinion, most alcoholics have underlying depression. But, that doesn’t eliminate the fact that alcoholics have sleep issues. I reiterated – he is not immune to these issues.
At that he turned around and went to his room for a nap.
at 6:51 AM