I've been off sleep meds now for six weeks; I wish I could report that I've been sleeping soundly for a solid six or seven hours every night, but unfortunately that isn't the case. I can fall asleep very easily most nights, but the difficulty is in staying asleep. The "VPAP Adapt SV" machine is still treating my problems with sleep apnea effectively, and I currently have no major psychological issues that impede my sleep (otherwise, past experience has shown that I would be having problems falling asleep). Therefore, it appears to me that the problem is one of environment, which is turning out to be extremely complex in light of the many factors in play, any one (or more) of which can be the thing that prevents my falling back asleep: (1) Dorine's snoring and her general night-time restlessness; (2) the discomfort associated with wearing a full-face mask and foam earplugs; (3) stomach upset from swallowing air coming from the "VPAP" machine; (4) a full bladder from drinking too many liquids before retiring; (5) frustration caused by restricted movement due to the mask and the attached air hose; (6) a hot-cold cycle (common in the fall and spring) that has me alternately pulling the covers on and then throwing them off; (7) occasional caffeine intake too late in the evening (Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper are the usual culprits); (8) indigestion resulting from my tendency to eat a late meal before bedtime; and (9) adrenaline overloads from going to the gym too late in the evening. (Oh, and I guess I can add one more to the list -- using a too-hard pillow while lying on our new pillow-top mattress, which apparently is what has caused the stiff neck I've had for the last two weeks.) Managing all these things requires extensive planning, something I haven't yet come close to mastering; however, I'm hoping it will become second nature to me over time. I'm still overjoyed at not having to take sleep medications, but I'm a little dismayed by the fact that I'm not sleeping any better or feeling any better during the day. This is obviously going to take some time!
(The attached photo was a joke played on me by a co-worker, who photoshopped my face onto an image of Tom Hanks playing Forrest Gump. Given this topic, it's somewhat appropriate -- lack of sleep makes me feel mentally challenged a lot of the time!)