I’ve suffered from insomnia for at least two decades. This means that, for at least 3 or 4 nights out of every week, I either have trouble falling asleep or wake up frequently during the night. When insomnia goes on for that long, it tends to “co-exist” very closely with depression, and becomes cyclically related to it. I’ve had sleep studies done, met with a sleep doctor (that is a thing, by the way), a psychologist, my gynecologist, and my family practitioner various times, taken medications, herbal supplements, done cranial electrotherapy, pretty much everything you can think of. It’s gotten a lot better, primarily due to medication and cranial electrotherapy (of all things), and in so doing, has allowed me a clearer perspective of what it’s like to live with insomnia, removed as I am now, somewhat, from it.
Why is it easier to see what insomnia’s like—even for one who has had it—when one is bothered less by it? Because insomnia is pervasive. It’s not just about frequently feeling tired. It’s so much more than that. This is what my experience was/has been like:
What It’s Like to Live With Insomnia
- perpetual exhaustion – Mine was due to a variety of factors, not the least of which was a very strong circadian rhythm that didn’t allow me to take naps. I couldn’t just “sleep it off.” Ever. Plus, I’m a mother, wife, family member, friend, employee. I couldn’t just stop my life to catch up on sleep. I chose to push through it (in the process, looking quite crazy, I’m sure).
- lack of concentration – Not just some times or a little. All the time. Which makes it hard to work, clean, remember details about where one is supposed to be on what day and at what time.
- weird myopia – As much as I would’ve like to not drive when I was sleep-deprived (after the really bad nights, I didn’t), I had to to get to work, grocery shop, etc. I found myself focusing almost obsessively on the car in front of me, making sure I stayed the proper distance from it on the freeway. It was too hard to also be fully aware of the cars in any other lanes beside my own, so I would get in a lane (usually the middle or one of the right two) and stay in it for the duration of my journey, which I tried to keep as short as possible.
- irritability – again, all the time. Which means I wasn’t me most of the time.
Benefits of Insomnia
There are so many things I missed, and probably even more that I didn’t miss that I probably should have. I blame the loss of some of my friends and some of the difficulties in my marriage on my insomnia. In so doing, I still accept full responsibility for my actions or lack thereof. I don’t claim that my experience is representative of anyone else’s who suffers from insomnia. I recognize, even, the benefits that have come into my life because of it, the way it forced me to
- rely on my Savior
- accept help from others
- focus just on the relationships in my life that were important
- appreciate the simplest of things in life, like a good nights’ sleep
If you have insomnia too, know that I feel your pain. You’re not alone. If you don’t, I appreciate you reading about my experience and educating yourself. Appreciate, as do I, every minute of sleep you get.