11 January 2019

Insomnia: a blessing or a curse?

The insomnia battle was full on this week...

Sleeping problems have been a part of my life ever since I was a child. I never needed much sleep as an infant and when I was about twelve years old, my lack of sleep turned into insomnia. It turned out to be a blessing as well as a curse. Insomnia is the love-hate relationship that I cannot get rid of.

There is a difference between not being able to sleep for a night and having insomnia. People around me often say that they have insomnia when they cannot sleep for a night… Trust me, this is not insomnia. Multiply this night by days, weeks, months, years or in my case: decades. I used to get pretty irritated whenever somebody would mention a bad night rest as insomnia. My mind always thought: ‘Don’t you know how lucky you are, it’s just ONE freaking night’. It doesn’t bother me now anymore. This is probably because I have come to terms (most of the time) that this is just a part of my life.

Insomnia is not a one-night-thing
I sleep about four or five hours a night. This is a good night's rest for me. Nights like these happen about two or three times a week. Whenever I am able to sleep for four hours, I know that the next night will be a long one. My sleep rhythm varies from none till two hours during the rest of the week. This is not a healthy sleeping pattern, trust me, I know. Ever since I was a teenager, I have tried medication, therapy and everything you can think of. Nothing have ever worked. Whenever people hear about my insomnia, they always try to give advice. It is all meant well, but I have stopped listening and trying things out. After 20 years, you just come to terms with what is.

Insomnia can be a blessing for a person like me. I am a busy bee. I cannot sit still or do nothing very well. Having insomnia has taught me a lot during the last two decades. I literally have more hours in a day than a ‘normal’ person. When I was a teenager, I used to look up random facts and have the strangest hobbies. For instance: I know how to make a wallet out of duct tape and I used to sort perler beads by colour in the middle of the night. I am weird, I know.

A wallet made out of duct tape

Sorting perler beads
On the other hand, insomnia often feels more like a curse. There are times that I still get frustrated by not being able to fall asleep, but these frustrating nights don’t come as often as they used to. My problem is that I have difficulties falling asleep. When I do manage to do so, I wake up pretty early. I cannot take naps. On the rare occasion that I can take a nap, my mind thinks that I have had a good night's rest and then it stays awake for another day. The strange thing about my insomnia is, is that it is not noticeable in daily life. My mind is always full on and I do not get tired in the morning or during the day.

The big downside of this all is whenever I cannot manage to get four hours of sleep (two times a week) my body aches. I literally cannot do anything. I just need to lay in my bed for my body to get the rest even if I am not able to sleep. I have learned to balance it with sleeping medication. I have got two kinds: one to help me fall a sleep easier and one to help me stay a sleep for a couple of hours. Since I am a freak of nature, I always end up waking way before I am supposed to after taking them. The effect is that I still feel a bit dozed off in the morning because the meds have not worn out yet. That is why I only take them on Friday’s and whenever I really need the ‘extra’ rest.

Every night is like a little game… The intention is to fall asleep. Even on a good night's rest, falling asleep takes forever. I usually get up around 5.30/6.00 am. The game is to fall asleep around 2.00 am. If I manage to do so, than that is a successful night. The real struggle is between 2.00 and 3.00 am. If the clock hits 3, I always make the choice to keep on trying so that I can get one or two hours in. But most of the time, I decide to pull an all-nighter. I just get up and continue my day, mainly to avoid the frustration.

So there you go… now you have a little inside on my night life. I would not wish it upon anybody. I have learned to live with it. I know it is not healthy, but it is just the way it is. I absolutely admire those people who can fall a sleep in an instant or those who can sleep in for hours and hours. If you're such a type, enjoy it to the fullest because it is a true blessing that you can!

Sweet dreams to all who can…

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