I've rejoined mothering after a long hiatus and thought I'd jump right in with a toughie. :P
I'm a bit of a narcoleptic... by a bit I mean, I have many wide-spread symptoms that range from mildly annoying to horribly frightening. I seem to cycle in and out of different sets of symptoms. I've been unable to predict patterns or prevent them. My life and schedule as well as general health makes regular, plentiful sleep near impossible. I've become used to 3-6 broken hours per night sadly. It's unhealthy, yes but for the moment it's what I'll have to endure.
I'm a high functioning narcoleptic despite some severe symptoms but after a long bout with my current cycle I'm running on E and loosing the ability to shortcut around my specific problems. For one, I drive for a living. In addition to my 36 mile commute getting my kids and I where we need to go 5 days a week I put in an additional 120-180 miles per day at work. I have nodded off behind the wheel at work.... more than once.... more than a hand full of times. Right now it's the only job I've found that allows me to be a mother and maintain regularity as well as pay the bills. I know it isn't the safest job for me but, I do my best as I know my safety as well as others on the road is VERY important. Driving is an automatic skill for me. I'm very comfortable and relaxed behind the wheel and as a result it tends to seduce me into a sleepy trance. Drives over 15 minutes without stopping in the hours between 12-3:30PM while on the job seem to be the worst. As a result I spend EVERY 1/2 hr lunch break sleeping on the bench seat of my delivery truck. If I get my nap and avoid 20 minute straight runs right before, I'm alright. If my lunch gets pushed back or I miss it all together, I'm in trouble. I don't work in a busy part of town so the lack of consistent traffic, stops, lane changes, etc only further induce heavy eyelids.
If I'm fearing falling asleep behind the wheel and don't think lunch break is near I'll spring for a coffee (I hate coffee and only resort to once or twice over a 3 month period). As a result of rare use it peps me to the point of heart palpitations for the following few hours. I'm a sugar addict so no amount of sweets and pep me up (nor would that be healthy) and sodas and teas have no effect on my energy level if consumed in normal amounts (nor do I want to drink them on any regular basis). I realize every kind of medication (even food related) is simply a crutch that further prevents my body from regulating on it's own but, it's getting dangerous. Mornings and evenings are fine as are my days off when I'm not physically exerting myself all day. My kids have always been safe from my ailment and that is the reason I've most hesitated to seek a solid answer I suppose.
I'd love to prevent the other symptoms such as nocturnal panic attacks, night terrors, anxiety, nocturnal confusion as well as bouts of nocturnal hallucinations, etc but, first and foremost I need to make sure I'm not going to tumble off the road after being unable to keep my eyes open. I have a very sensitive system and hesitate to use chemicals. I worry that I may be beyond the help of a natural remedy, however. I don't know what reactions and feeling are my own anymore and what are from this condition or perhaps hormone imbalance. Need to get to the core of ME... and eliminate the cloak that is my condition.
Med suggestions natural or otherwise or similar situations???