Adapting to a New City With Narcolepsy: Part 2
Last updated: April 2022
I recently made a cross-country move from sunny Arizona to rainy Portland, Oregon. Check out Part 1 of this article for more on how I made the move and began adapting to my new home.
The difference in temperature is significant. In Arizona, I was constantly affronted with high temperatures that worsened my sleep attacks. In Portland, the cold is my friend. The clouds... are perhaps not so much. Many of my days are filled with icy rain here, and that has been difficult for me for a few reasons.
Narcolepsy and depression can go hand-in-hand
In addition to narcolepsy, I also suffer from depression. Both of these conditions can worsen the other, so I have to be careful in how I treat my symptoms. While a trip out of the house might lift my spirits, for example, it would also fatigue me and leave me less able to function for the rest of the day due to my narcolepsy symptoms.
One way in which my new city has affected my symptoms is that the cloudy days make it more difficult to get out of bed, somehow. One way that I work around this is not letting myself sleep in past a certain time. It can be hard to convince myself to get up – however, a consistent sleep schedule is invaluable to managing my narcolepsy.
A tool for fighting seasonal affective disorder
Fortunately, I have a friend sending me a special light that helps to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It emits a special kind of light that helps to stimulate your body’s natural circadian rhythm like the sun does. I am sure that this handy tool will help me to survive the seemingly endless cloudy Portland winter months.
Grey days can worsen my narcolepsy symptoms
Cloudy days with narcolepsy seem to start slow and then drag on endlessly. I am used to the sun telling me what to do. When there is a faint light of dawn coming in through my window, my body knows it’s time to wake up. The brighter the light, the better the effect.
Grey days seem to worsen my symptoms slightly. In addition, these negative effects on my narcolepsy build upon themselves if the days continue on without sunlight. One cloudy day doesn’t set me back too badly, but 2 or 3 cloudy days back-to-back and I might start feeling... not myself. My fatigue is more readily triggered, as are my sleep attacks.
Getting outside when I can
One way that I combat the rainy blues is by making sure to get outside during bright days. I like to spend these sunny days hiking with my service dog and soaking up invigorating vitamin D from the sun. I also make sure to get outside on cloudy days if I can. Though the cold is unpleasant (I’ve yet to adapt my wardrobe to fight the wet chill of Portland), it surprisingly helps keep me awake. Heat does the opposite for me, so I’ll take it.
Have you ever made a life decision focused on accommodating your narcolepsy, like a big move to another city or somewhere with a different climate? Share with us in the comments below.
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