Thursday, December 30, 2010

Insomnia: An Ode to Sleep

Oh sleep.  How do I love thee.

Sorry I couldn't resist.  But this is not going to be poetry.  

As an insomniac I'm probably a bit more appreciative of sleep than most people.

I first started having sleeping problems when I was about 13.  My mom figured it was just part of being a teenager who didn't want to go to bed when she was told to despite the early hour I had to get up to go to school. 

Honestly that was probably a contributing factor early on.

So I would stay up late reading or studying or talking on the phone with my friends in secret.

Fast forward 5 years.

By the time I started University my insomnia was out of control. 

I was going  to school full time, putting in 25-30 hours a week at my part-time job, studying and writing papers, spending a lot of time with my boyfriend and doing it all on about 3 hours sleep a night.

Not that I didn't attempt to sleep more.

I would go to bed and then NOTHING.  I would just lie there for hours on end tossing and turning until I would just get up and either read, watch TV or go on mad cleaning bursts.

I remember one night my mom woke up at 3 am to find me sitting on my bed with all my drawers dumped out while I re-folded all my clothes, re-bundled my socks and organized everything I could get my hands on.

It got to the point where I was barely coherent in my lectures and running on little more than adrenaline and coffee.

My mom eventually dragged me to my doctor and she decided to prescribe sleeping pills.  She figured if she could chemically force me to sleep for 5 nights in a row every month than hopefully it would jolt my body into a more natural sleeping pattern.


I had already tried every OTC, naturopathic, aromatherapy, alcohol induced, zen inspired sleep remedy that I could think of.  With no results.

She gave me the strongest sleeping pills she could prescribe and could only give me 5 because they're so incredibly addictive and they did NOTHING. 

I would take it before I started getting ready for bed, then curl up with a book and some soothing lavender candles trying to do anything but think about how badly I wanted to sleep.

And NOTHING would happen.

Actually worse than nothing would happen.  I would fall asleep only to wake up a dozen and a half times during the night.

So now my insomnia had mutated thanks to these nifty drugs.

I went from not being able to sleep to falling asleep easily only to wake up pretty much every hour.  Which apparently is worse for you.  Whoda thunk?

The problem with waking up often is that your brain never really shuts down and you never get into a deep REM cycle. 

The sleeping pills stopped after a few months but I still hadn't developed healthy sleeping patterns.

And thus my life continued for another 5 years.

I'm now 27 years old and still have sleeping problems. 

They're not as bad as they used to be but they're not ideal.  I get an average of 5-6 hours of sleep a night, but still wake up multiple times a night.  When I actually sleep 5 hours uninterrupted I'm ready to jump for joy.

What insomnia teaches you is exactly how wonderful sleep is.  You know the saying, you don't know how important something is to you until it's gone?  Well sleep is a prime example of that.  You don't understand hell and torture until you've gone 5 days in a row with a combined sleep time of less than 12 hours. 

So although the sleep I get may not be ideal,  I thank God for every minute of it  because I truly believe that if I kept going on 3 hours a night or less I either would have gone mad or killed myself behind the wheel of a car because your brain function and reaction time when you're that exhausted is the equivalent of a drunk driver. 

So to all you people who can pull off 8 hours on a good day and 10 on the weekends.  You suck.  I mean really.  It's like flaunting an engagement ring in front of a person who's just been dumped.  Just knowing you happy sleeping people exist depresses me.

Don't even get me going on you people who can nap.  You know who you are.  I dislike you.  OK maybe I wouldn't go that far but you know what I mean.  I'm still giving you the evil eye. 



p.s.  If you ever find me sleeping during the daylight hours I'm either deathly ill or dead.  Please check my pulse. 



  1. Ah, does that me you hate me? Did you try counting sheep?? hahah - when I was a kid, I use to repeat the Hail Mary over and over until I would drift this day, works like a charm..xoxo

  2. You name it, I've counted it. Oh and I've tried the rosary thing too. Doesn't keep me from waking up 45 mins later.

  3. My insomnia began during my first pregnancy at 22. 4 kids and 23 years on and I'm still not sleeping through the night.

    I woke up at 2.30 this morning and nearly started cheering thinking I had gone 5 hours without waking... then I remembered I didn't get to bed til 11. Oh well, 3.5 hrs is still pretty good going for me so not so bad a night after all. Pity I followed it up with another 3.5 hours of tossing and turning. Oh to sleep, what wonderous dreams would I behold. Oh to feel the comforting arms of slumber around me.... bugger this for a game of marbles xx

  4. We are all facing insomnia from time to time, but it's not good if it become chronic. We have to constantly work on our self to find inner peace, to be positive and to stay positive.

  5. I know where you're at in life. I wake up almost every hour. I am thrilled if I sleep 2 hours in a row. Hang in there........what choice do we have???