Insomnia is a sleep disorder, which isn’t just about not being able to get to sleep. It can also cause people to wake very early, or to have very light and disrupted sleep. Or to be an extra cruel combination of all three.
My insomnia is usually a combination of not being able to sleep and light and disrupted sleep. But I do at times get all three symptoms at once (I think this is generally more when I am manic)
I don’t think I can remember a time when I didn’t have sleep problems. (Although I have been told I slept well as a baby)
As a child I remember night after night lying in bed wide awake, completely unable to fall asleep.
People often tell me of all these amazing things I can do which will cure my insomnia. (If they work for you, some or all of the time then great) however I have not found anything to cure or help relieve my insomnia (except sedating medication which I use when desperate)
I have tried so many various sleep hygiene things over the years, all with no positive outcome and many having stressful affects.
People constantly telling me I would sleep if I wasn’t on my phone/laptop in bed or didn’t watch television before going to bed. However take away my phone/laptop and television and I am left alone and wide awake. In the dark and I usually feel more hyper-vigilant, anxious and paranoid at night. So tell me to keep away from those things that have at times saved my life is pretty ridiculous. Watching or listening to shows and messaging friends is an absolute life saver for me at night. Yet people insist that no technology stuff and I’ll be asleep straight away.
I know that for many people there are things they do in terms of sleep hygiene that work for them, but it can get very frustrating when people automatically assume they work for everyone and then insist you haven’t tried hard enough if you say they don’t help.
If only it were that easy.
There are some nights I know the reason why I cannot sleep. It could be a combination of:
* My tics are even more disruptive and even my weighted blanket isn’t helping
* Something is happening the next day and I am very anxious and my OCD is obsessing over every way it could go wrong and making me do compulsions over and over and over again.
* I’m too afraid to go to sleep due to the nightmares the previous time I was asleep being extra horrible.
* I am manic (although I may not realise that at the time)
* I am not comfortable sensory wise
There will be many other reasons that I can’t think of right now. However also many nights I do not know the reason I cannot sleep. I can lie there in the dark, absolutely exhausted, my body wiped out, eyes stinging, head burning with exhaustion. My comedy is on (I have a set routine of listening to comedy every night to go to sleep) and yet I cannot sleep.
I usually find that I go in a pattern of hardly sleeping (usually not being able to fall asleep and then having disruptive sleep) for 2-3 weeks most nights. Then one night I’ll end up just crashing with exhaustion and sleep for about 8-10 hours and then the routine continues.
I’ve come to except that I’ll always be an insomniac, it isn’t fun or pleasant. But please be assured, I’ve tried the sleep hygiene stuff, I’ve tried no screens, I’ve tried so many things to try and sleep, but they have never helped.
The one thing I do really wish people would stop doing when I say I am an insomniac is suggest no screens. When I try to explain how important they are and that to be on one until say 4/5am and then eventually fall asleep is better than the alternative people still don’t understand.
Also at some periods my insomnia is worse and other times a bit better. That is just how it goes, yet if I tell you I’ve had several good nights of sleep then my insomnia isn’t gone, I’ve just managed to get a little bit more sleep than I am used to.