Breathing Myself to Sleep

Yesterday I had the disconcerting experience of having a sleep study.  I am an insomniac, and working through getting to the bottom of frequent migraines, so my neurologist, leaving no stone unturned, sent me for a sleep study.

Due to my insomnia, and being just a wee bit claustrophobic, I found this experience awful.  When the neurologist explained the procedure initially, I pictured about a half dozen wires just sproinging out from various locations on my head and body.  The reality was a little more like Pinhead from the 90’s Hellraiser film series.  It took more than an hour to hook me up to everything.  I had fifteen wires attached to my scalp, easily a dozen on my face (including tubes in my nose), wires attached to my chest, down my pants, and one to my index finger.  The wires were so plentiful, that they actually had weight.  Whenever I moved, I had to tug my albatross along with me.

To make matters worse, I had a filter-free technician who shared with me the sleeping habits of he and his girlfriend (naked), his remedy for helping me sleep (a knuckle sandwich), and creepiest woodland creatures (between possums and raccoons, raccoons won, as he has been bit by a raccoon).  All of this was making me ready to freak out.  However, thanks to yoga, without even realizing it, I slipped into my ujjayi breath, each one becoming longer and slower than the last.  I breathed myself all the way into sleep, even though what I really wanted to do was cry (but that wasn’t a great option, as the technician had reminded me several times that he would be watching everything I did via the in-room camera).  If you haven’t found your breath as a coping mechanism, start looking some things up.  There are many different kinds of pranayama, and while less subtly employed in public, nadi shodhan (alternate nostril breathing) is one of my favorites.  If you take a deep breath, you can survive that pose, that bad day at work, and even being caged by wires and watched by a nude sleeping technician.

6 thoughts on “Breathing Myself to Sleep

  1. Laurie says:

    I’ve gone through one of these overnight studies as well. It’s so weird to think they are watching and filming you. I have to say the results were pretty un helpful. I went on a Cpap machine for a couple of years, and although this helped a bit, the mask and tubes really make it hard to move and you look like a creature from space. I hope science has advanced some Kaye and you find some relief. Yoga seems to work for you, so follow your instincts! Laurie


    • kaphayogi says:

      Thanks! I think this is just a “rule it out” test from the neurologist, but if they did find something, I think wearing a mask sounds pretty awful. I’m glad for the folks that can do it, but I hate (and I mean really, really despise) having anything on my face. Not a blanket in the freezing cold, not a sweatshirt that pulls up over my mouth, and definitely NOT a ski mask.


  2. hbksloss says:

    I used my ujjayi breath and different pranayama breathing to get me through my breast MRI biopsy early this year. It was awful being in the tube (my claustrophobia) and then during the 12 core needle samples they took from my left breast was also not fun. But I had kind and loving people there with me: my husband, the doctor and the assistants. Can’t believe that they let the technician you describe work with people. My husband is going to get tested in a few months, but I don’t think I will share your experience with him!


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