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Thread: Are SCI's Nocturnal?

  1. #1

    Are SCI's Nocturnal?

    From another thread...

    We were discussing why ppl w/ SCI can sit up all night chatting. Of course, the initial injury is v. disrupting, given the hospital environment. You come home told to roll every 2 hours, to cath every 4, even when asleep. There is the theory that our adrenal glands are exhausted. which I feel is valid. Then there is this. Sorry for typos, it's in .pdf form, I couldn't c/p.

    I'd love to see more data, if anyone has it. I may set up a poll later, if we get any responses.

    pg 170, paraphrased

    From book Spinal Cord Medicine
    by Vernon W. Lin, Diana D. Cardenas

    Adey et al. (17) examined nighttime EEG sleep patterns in 17 individuals w/ SCI (14 w/ high cervical lesions, 2 w/ upper thoracic, 1 w/ lower thoracic.) Those w/ high C lesions had a significant increase in the amount of light sleep and a reduction in the amount of deep and REM sleep. The change was more pronounced in those w/ a longer time since injury.

    Study ws limited blahblah.

    Further down, pg 171...The pathway which controls production of melatonin can be altered by SCI.

    Chapter 12: Sleep Disorders in Spinal Cord Injury
    Lawrence J. Epstein M.D.
    Robert Brown M.D.,M1


    I just remembered part of it. If you're exhausted at 4 pm and awake from 11-12 at night on, it's probably exhausted adrenal glands. SCI, with the huge stress on the body, obvs exhausts them. Most ppl, injured in other ways, recover from that, over time, given peace and good nutrition. But we require so much extra nutrition and our lives aren't so peaceful; too many little battles fought each day, due to paralysis/loss of function.

    There are tests for adrenal gland function. I'll look it up. Doctors mostly NEVER order them. Unfortch, the only cure is rest, good nutrition, some supplements, peace.

  2. #2

    More about Adrenals

    I'll just c/p a response I recently sent to metronyc when he was having trouble sleeping. Good info contained imo.

    Saying you crash at 4 pm makes me think adrenal fatigue, Mike. Doctors don't test for it. Reading this article (link below) and taking the advice seems to have finally started putting me back together. I went waterskiing AND was out until midnight on Saturday, for me that is HUGE. (Although I did have a 2 hr. nap.) I'm currently planning a big trip, first trans-Atlantic trip since sci (To compare, I took 4 trips the year I was injured). I hope I don't jinx myself by saying all this... Another comparison: 2 years ago I was invited to speak at Rally for the Cure and couldn't even fly to NYC, had to eat those tickets and let Wise down, spent that time in the ER mainly trying to figure out what was wrong with me.

    So, judging by these improvements, it seems my recharging my adrenal glands was necessary. All of our bodies have had huge stressors, obvs. I kind of wonder if the ones that had the chance to walk, like you and I did, didn't stress even longer and harder than those with less functional return. We had that giant carrot dangled in front of us. Rehab for me was essentially 2 years long, just that constant eternal grueling quest to walk across the room, ya know? Maybe this exercise will be the one to do it, or that exercise, I just need to try harder. Maybe if I do more of ALL the exercises. Maybe if I go on a plane and leave my chair at home. It was this long, loud internal refusal to accept who I was. And I know you're still pushing the physical envelope.

    Looking back, I feel like a switch was flipped in my body in 2004. I kept saying the day they told me my brother was found dead was the last day of my youth...then I read this about adrenal exhaustion. I now think that day was the straw that broke my adrenals, in truth. I'd had sci with the million lost friends and other changes, we both lost jobs, husband had to take a job in OK while I did suspended treadmill training and raised 2 kids alone in TX for 6 months (with a brand new sci!), moved to a new state, aging parents, stressers ad infinitum, for the few years prior. Losing Del was the last I could take without recharging. I developed Graves disease which sure didn't help. I've been reading there is a connection suspected between adrenal fatigue and the autoimmune diseases like Graves...I buy it.

    It was the lists that kept mentioning the essential 4 pm nap that finally convinced me. I scheduled my life around that nap. I remember some lady calling to bitch at me for planning our first DC rally at 4 in the afternoon, (some care vs. cure freak) and I felt she was really inconsiderate to interrupt my sleep LOL. She said "It IS 4 in the afternoon." I said "And I HAVE to sleep at this time." I haven't taken the lab test, just followed the healing instructions as best I could. They're common sense, I had to do it anyway unless I wanted to die of Graves.

    Symptoms of adrenal fatigue:

    Morning fatigue -- You don't really seem to "wake up" until 10 a.m., even if you've been awake since 7 a.m.
    Afternoon "low" (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
    Burst of energy at 6 p.m. -- You finally feel better from your afternoon lull.
    Sleepiness at 9 to 10 p.m. -- However, you resist going to sleep.
    "Second wind" at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m., when you finally go to sleep.
    Cravings for foods high in salt and fat
    Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
    Mild depression
    Lack of energy
    Decreased ability to handle stress
    Muscular weakness
    Increased allergies
    Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
    Decreased sex drive
    Frequent sighing
    Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they're combined with fats and protein
    In addition to noticing these symptoms in yourself, you can objectively check for adrenal fatigue by using the following three tests:

    Ragland's sign (blood pressure test) -- (Equipment required: Home blood pressure kit) Take your blood pressure while sitting down. Then, stand up and immediately take your blood pressure again. Your systolic (first) number should have raised 8 to 10 mm. If it dropped, you probably have adrenal fatigue.
    Pupil dilation exam -- (Equipment required: Flashlight and a mirror) Look into the mirror and shine the flashlight into the pupil of one eye. It should contract. If after 30 seconds, it stays the same or, even worse, dilates, you most likely have adrenal fatigue.
    Pain when pressing on adrenal glands (located over kidneys)
    Though the ACTH laboratory exam doesn't effectively test for adrenal fatigue, a salivary cortisol test can. You don't need a prescription for the exam. In fact, you can even buy the test online, do it at home and send in your sample to a lab for the results. Dr. Wilson is very positive about the effectiveness of the salivary cortisol test in diagnosing adrenal fatigue. It is so valid and accepted that Plan B Medicare covers it and "they don't want to cover anything they don't have to," he quips. If you don't have insurance, rest assured that this non-invasive test is also very affordable.

    Taking back your life

    If you take your treatment plan seriously, you can expect your adrenal fatigue to heal in:

    * 6 to 9 months for minor adrenal fatigue
    * 12 to 18 months for moderate fatigue
    * Up to 24 months for severe adrenal fatigue

    For help along the way to taking back your life, you may want to read Dr. Wilson's book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. You can learn more about this informative book or about adrenal fatigue in general by visiting Dr. Wilson's web site,, or by calling 1-888-ADRENAL.

    Editor's note: This article is not an infomercial. Truth Publishing was not paid to write this article and receives no money from your purchase of the products mentioned here.
    Last edited by betheny; 11-02-2008 at 03:12 PM.

  3. #3
    I attended a presentation by a researcher at Stanford, Dr. Jamie Zeitzer at an SCI meeting last year who has been doing sleep-related work.

    One of the interesting recent studies he mentioned related to melatonin in people with cervical SCI's. The pineal gland, responsible for producing melatonin in the brain, is apparently wired through the spinal cord. This and a number of other things he noted during the talk seemed to have a lot to do with why many quads have sleep issues.

    I was only about 2.5 months post at that point, and asked him if this was something I would experience, but he thought it likely that I was too incomplete. Sure enough, I seem to have no issues sleeping.

  4. #4
    Treatment might be an issue:

    Lying down during your work breaks (preferably at 10 a.m. and again anytime from 3 to 5 p.m.)
    Sleeping until 9 a.m. as often as possible
    Minimizing stress
    Taking negative people out of your life
    Eating regular meals
    Chewing well
    Doing something fun each day
    Combining unrefined carbohydrates with protein and oils
    Avoiding junk food
    Eating five to six servings of vegetables each day
    Taking calcium and magnesium supplements
    Adding sea salt to your diet
    Taking 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day
    Supplementing vitamin E with mixed tocopherols
    Taking B-complex supplements that are high in B6 and pantothenic acid
    Adding licorice root extract to your dietary supplement regimen

  5. #5
    Senior Member Imight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I know I am.

    To be honest, sleeping with a paralyzed body just isn't the same. It's a hell of a lot more uncomfortable, so I hate sleeping, I can only sleep when I am absolutely exhausted. That's my excuse.

  6. #6
    LOL, quadvet, can't you snap your fingers and produce dozens of positive, laughing friends that live to bring you distraction and cheer, all whilst bearing licorice root extract?

    Yeah. Me neither.

    I did find journaling, meditation, exposure to sunshine, walking my dog at the park, Will and Grace re-runs and regular roadtrips to visit people that love me to be helpful. Al-anon is helping me be less negative about the impact and destruction alcohol has produced in my life. Helping ppl on CC can be a huge spirit lifter.

    If I really need distracted, sometimes I poke Adi w/ a stick.

    Add in the good nutrition, get out a bit, the positive ppl slowly appear. Errr, I hope.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2004
    I've never had sleep issues.....

    Only time i ever have sleep related issues was with too much bacofin.... Then it was hard not to sleep.

  8. #8
    I love sleeping, I can sleep 12 hours every night and then two hours in the afternoon. But I never sleep before 3am and I hate to wake up in the morning if I have to do anything.
    TH 12, 43 years post

  9. #9
    if i dont get 6-7 hrs good sleep im a mean prick........ rep
    c4/5 inc funtioning c6. 28 yrs post.
    sponsored handcycle racer

  10. #10
    Wow, those symptoms sound too familiar. It would be great to put a name to this altered life.

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