One month after my sleep study and here's what I've learned: Sleep really is about quality not quantity!
If YOU also struggle with a potential sleep disorder, I strongly encourage you to ask your doctor about a sleep study. Yes, it's almost impossible to get a "normal" night's sleep with all those wires pasted to your body, but the doctors are still able to interpret the results in a way that sheds light on your situation. So far, here are the most important things I've learned about my sleep struggles:
1) I wake up about every 2.5 minutes, or over 130 times in a 5 hour sleep. Even though most of these are for less than 15 seconds at a time, that's still enough disruption to keep my body from actually resting and healing like it should.
2) I reach REM sleep about 30 minutes later than most people, and then my nightmares begin. About 4 times per night.
3) Alpha wave intrusion also means my brain starts acting like it's awake when it should be asleep.
4) It might possible for dreams to cause temporary breathing lapses, similar to sleep apnea. I have approximately 100 respiratory arrests each night that might be caused by my nightmares.
5) It's stressful to think that sleeping MORE won't necessarily help me feel LESS tired. But it's oddly comforting to have science back me up when I say "I'm tired" every single day!
Thank you to all my friends and family who have continued to support me when I'm tired and emotional. I'll continue looking for a sleep-worthy solution, and it means a lot to know that you'll be there along the way to help brighten my otherwise hazy days.