Aphasia, sleep problems and the science of sound

After the stroke my sleep pattern changed dramatically. To start I couldn’t fall asleep, my stroke happened while I was asleep I was terrified it would happen again. When I did finally did fall asleep I could have slept 12 hours a night, and still have had a 4 hour lunch-time nap. The fatigue was overwhelming, 6 years later fatigue is still my greatest enemy. Once in sleep I would have very vivid dreams, and I’m sure it was my brain re-wiring, trying to articulate what I couldn’t say or do. It was like my head was a cloud the whole time, I felt like my brain was made of cotton wool. Imagine a head cold, but all the time, noticeable and disabling.

That cloud lasted 6-12 months (time blurred as I was house bound). Over the last six years my speech and writing is much better, but it is the understanding that frustrates me the most. I regularly tell people my hearing is bad, because I simply can’t respond quickly enough; I simply can’t understand the request, process the information and give a response. I am literally forced passive.

Sleep makes a huge difference to that ‘lag time’ on responses, but I am a bad sleeper. Five or so weeks in a noisy hospital and I had got into the habit of sleeping in ear plugs, anything to help, but it is a habit I’ve never been able to break. Yet still noises permeate through those ear plugs and I wake me up; a creak on a floor board will wake me up, a computer hum will wake me up, the television in the other room will wake me up. And all those little nuances are fine while it’s just me, but having a long term boyfriend those problems can be straining on our relationship. If he touches me I wake up and struggle to get back to sleep, if he puts the television on while I’m asleep I wake up, if there is loud foot fall I will wake up. And for a ‘normal’ person they may take it, but for me one night I feel like sleep deprived. I am angry bear when I am tired because I can’t got back to sleep easily. When I’m tired my head is back to that cloud back like it was 6 years ago; I can’t understand, I say all the wrong words and my concentration is appalling. I hate the world in those moments.

D and I have been together for 3 years now, and we still don’t live together. We’re working on it, but it’s a frustrating process. He owns a converted flat, which means there is no concrete between the floors. So our month will be spent sound proofing the floor, taking it up and putting down some sound mats, and buying some eBay rugs. We also intend to sound proof a shared wall (the house is a semi), and we’ll put built in wardrobes around it so it should be perfect. But the frustration of me in angry bear mode, and D trying to understand why all the hassle is tough. What’s been interesting is that his whole flat is laminate or stone floor, there is no carpet or curtains. It took me a long time to realise why I was struggling to ‘hear’ the television – the sound was bouncing around the room and I couldn’t follow it. So I’ve got an eBay rug, and I think I’ll try and make some simple sound panels to absorb it a bit. I’m sure I’ll write more about this hot topic as we learn out more!

To have Aphasia is to understand the science of sound, I guess I better learn more, and fast!!

Any sleep suggestions or sound proofing tips greatly received?!

Sleepy Amy

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5 responses to “Aphasia, sleep problems and the science of sound

  1. Hi AmyLou–I had a stroke three years ago, and I’m still struggling with sleep issues (my stroke happened right before I turned out the lights to sleep). But I think it’s great that you’re tackling the problem in a no-nonsense way. Sharing a bed can hard, even if you’re madly in love, and even if neither person has a brain injury!

    • Thank you for replying, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one! It’s been emotional and frustrating, but getting organised is the only thing I can do! I popped on your blog but I couldn’t see anything, when are you going to post? Would love to hear from you.

  2. Dear AmyLou,
    My apologies for making contact via your comments box; I couldn’t find an email address for you.

    I am a Speech and Language Therapist doing a Masters project at City University London. I am contacting you because we wish to analyse your blog in our theses. The name of the project is Blog talk: the impact of aphasia on people’s lives.

    Please have a look at the information on this link:

    http://blogs.city.ac.uk/blogtalk/information-sheet-2/

    Please contact us to let us know if you want to take part, or don’t want to, on abbw446@city.ac.uk

    Many thanks,

    Victoria

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