Believe it or not this post isn’t about AKA- it’s about me. Ok, yes she has her own sleep-related issues (mostly due to parenting fails I admit) but I’m the one wide awake at 1am on a fairly regular basis. Like right now.
Here’s a snapshot of my current situation: alone (Eric’s traveling for work), a plate of those Royal Dansk butter cookies on the bed (holiday splurge) and browser tabs open to searches like “sleep aids that work” “Lunesta side effects” and “CBT sleep therapy”.
I’ve been dealing with insomnia on and off for maybe 5-6 years now and I’ll tell you straight up: it’s the worst. There’s a reason sleep deprivation has been used in interrogations! We’ve all dealt with a sleepless night or two, and if you’re a parent, a couple sleepless years maybe. But the difference for me is that I can’t fall asleep…and I usually don’t stay asleep for long. So while an exhausted parent falls right back asleep after tending to a kid crisis, people like me may stay awake for hours, if we are even luck to fall back asleep at all.
Chronic insomnia creates a vicious cycle:
A couple nights of poor sleep -> anxiety about not sleeping the next night -> no sleep. Repeat until you lose your mind.
I have been trapped in this cycle and it sucks worrying about not sleeping…at lunchtime. Then you start telling yourself your just not gonna sleep that night and guess what happens? I am fortunate to recognize this cycle now and skip the anxiety part.
Sleep disturbances are common, especially for women post-menopause (ask your mom). Something to look forward to, eh? That’s why you see so many lame pharmaceutical ads for sleep meds everywhere you look. I’ve tried many of them to no avail. If another person suggests frickin’ melatonin I’m going to lose it. Seriously. Lose. It. I’ve tried it all- OTC sleep aids, chamomile tea, valerian, wine, at least a half-dozen prescriptions…nothing works. I do have an “emergency” backup if things get really bad (i.e.-being up for a couple days straight which has happened before)- Ambien aka Time Travel- but that is a nasty medication with many side effects. A year or so ago I took Prozac at the suggestion of my doctor and it worked great- I could fall asleep like a champ. However, it loses efficacy over time and it may be a contributor to another problem I have, which is genetic hair loss (another blog post for another time). Hmmm…balding or sleep? Tough call.
One night of broken sleep is enough to mess up the following day. But months at a time? That’s a recipe for disaster. Chronic insomnia wraps its slimy tentacles around all facets of your life-work, relationships, family, hobbies, you name it. There’s a reason I skipped so many races last year. And called in sick when I was working in the office. And picked fights. No fun.
In the past my insomnia has been caused by acute stress. Maybe I just don’t handle stress well. My doc told me to exercise more and I just laughed. But now insomnia is like…systemic or something, with no apparent cause. Due to my hair loss issue I’ve had every blood test on the planet and nothing is off. The funny thing is I go to bed tired, but just can’t fall asleep. Ugh.
This blog post is one big complaint, sorry! Maybe it’ll put YOU to sleep 🙂