Since my TBI in 1996 I have taken a 30 – 40 minute nap around 12:30 every day. I have it down to an art form, complete with knowing which kind of ear plugs work best for me. I even have a timer so I won’t sleep too long. They aren’t a luxury and I always hate when someone says, ” I wish I could nap like that!”
The problem is I couldn’t function if I didn’t have a nap. Without one, my brain stoped working completely and I’d lose my temper at the tiniest things. I couldn’t think and I’d have difficulty maintaining my balance. Whenever I had a day long function I had to make arrangements to find a couch somewhere to lay down. This really has been a burden. I’ve napped in the back seat of my car on several occasions. I’ve slept in closets, floors, couches and beds. Staying at hotels was often a challenge trying to work with check-in and check-out times.
In addition to these daily naps, I would get overstimulated easily. This is often a problem with brain injury survivors. I couldn’t handle a lot of commotion and in the beginning, I always found a quiet corner in a room away from the hustle and bustle around me. Even today, the ubiquitous televisions drive me crazy. I found that putting ear plugs in to block out all stimulation allowed me to “rest my brain” a bit.
To my amazement, I recently stopped taking a preventive migraine medication and my need for this nap has disappeared. When I first was treated for these, I tried a huge variety of preventives and this was the only one that worked. I still have migraines and am trying acupuncture to lesson them. Fatigue was a side effect but I took the bulk of the med at night. It never occurred to me that it was the reason for my daily nap.
This is all new to me so I’m trying to figure out how to manage it. I still need to put my ear plugs in for about 10 minutes or so and sit somewhere quietly periodically throughout the day but not having to take the nap has given me more time. I was sluggish before my nap and it took me a while to get back to living my life afterwards. There always seems to be a challenge when one has a TBI even after 14 years! I remember when I had been a survivor for 5 years and thought I was done improving, folks who were 15-year survivors told me they are still growing and changing.
I am interested in how others have managed their fatigue and if it is a problem. I’ll write about over stimulation another time especially since this has been quite a challenge for me.