Migraine awareness Day 3: Tell us about a recurrent dream and what it may say about, or mean to your diagnosis
I actually do not have any reoccurring dreams. I remember my dreams very often because I have very crappy, fractured sleep but I do not have dreams that re-occur often. I tend to have quite interesting dreams often based off of books I am reading or writing. Often I do not feature in my dreams, but sometimes I do.
I do, however, have recurrent sleep phenomena which is very dependent on my diagnosis. That can lead to some rather unfortunate nightmares.
You see I have chronic migraines and fibromyalgia and what those two things have in common is they both really mess with my sleep. Fibromyalgia gave me chronic insomnia and unrefreshed sleep since I was a kid, likely helped by my hypermobility syndrome actually. Then when the migraines became chronic that just got worse because when the migraines were severe or acute at night there was even less of a chance I was getting any sleep… and then because I had little to no sleep more of a chance the migraine would continue.
What happens with this complete unholy union is sleep deprivation. And when I get sleep deprived strange things start happening and becoming frequent.
1) hypnic jerks: I start to get that thing that happens right when you just are about to fall asleep and some limb jerks you awake. Except a Lot. A leg. An arm. My neck. My back. Massive spasm to jolt me awake. At night or from a nap. Really rude quite frankly. Does the brain want sleep or doesn’t it? Make up its mind.
2) Sleep paralysis: Starting in my early twenties and becoming very frequent when sleep deprived I get sleep paralysis episodes where I wake up ‘stuck’ in my own body. First time it seriously freaked me out. Nothing like waking up and realizing you cannot move to freak a person out. But then when I found out what it was it didn’t bother me as much. But… it happens a lot and more than once a night when I am sleep deprived. So wake up stuck, struggle internally to ‘wake up’ in order to get un-stuck and then finally do, go back to sleep, only to wake up like that Again, and repeat. Now… this is where some of the ‘nightmare’ aspects come into play since sleep paralysis can cause hallucinations as you are in fact still sort of asleep and so your brain can still mess around with you even though you feel awake, can hear and sense the room around you, feel and sense your body and so forth. My form of nightmare tends to be waking up and feeling like I am being hugged, thinking it is my spouse, becoming ‘aware’ it is not and then getting the feeling I am being squeezed. Or having the feeling someone is trying to drag me off the bed. Or staring at me from the corner. Creepy. The darkness always feels insidious.
3) Attached to #2 is a form of lucid dreaming between sleep paralysis episodes. When I get repeated episodes of sleep paralysis I night I can sometimes not really go into a deep, quality sleep when falling back to sleep. So I tend to end up becoming I am aware I am dreaming. But unlike normal lucid dreaming where you just become aware you are dreaming, because the sleep paralysis has already put you in a sort of mindset I guess… instead I get this dawning awareness in the dream that things are ‘not right’, or ‘not real’ and when I do things get more insidious, the shadows darker, people odder. I will wake myself up from the dream because it feels so ‘wrong’.
4) Migraine Nightmares: these are more a type rather than the same dream. A type that occurs because you have an acute migraine when going to sleep or get a migraine while sleeping. And I suppose the onset of the attack impacts the dream or the pain does. It makes for some vivid, disturbing, sometimes bloody and violent dreams. But very, very vivid. And often pretty chaotic as in not very sequenced. It should be noted this is often when I get a migraine while sleeping. When I fall asleep with a powerful acute migraine I usually I have the problem of really getting into deep sleep. I can spend the majority of the night in a light, half-assed stage one sleep and when i dream it is in and out of dreams. Sort of aware, then into a dream, then sort of aware, back into the dream. Most of it lucid dreaming at that so the line between dreaming, aware I am dreaming, thinking about the dream and then just awake makes for a very annoying, hazy, long night.
The best thing I have found to resolve at least the issues that arise from sleep deprivation was when I was put on a sleeping pill. For some people migraine preventatives that have a side effect of drowsiness help, but for me, the existing insomnia added to the migraines and those never had an effect on me. Anyway, that dramatically decreased my hypnic jerks and sleep paralysis, unless I get a lot status migraine which tends to lead to little sleep. Also decreased the occurrence of migraines in my sleep or morning migraines, assuming it is not a continuous migraine for more than a day that is. On average I now get a pain gap in the morning before the onset of the migraine. However, even with sleeping pills, pain is such that they simply are not as effective as they would normally be so the quality of sleep is still diminished. More pain, less sleep. Or more of that really light sleeping hell.
I generally really enjoy my dreams. Which is why I don’t like lucid dreaming. I want to see where my mind is going to go all on its own without my conscious mind mucking it up.