Monday 25 September 2023

Who Can EVER Sleep?

If you're someone who struggles to sleep *flings hand up* then you are possibly obsessed, like me, with how other people sleep. How do people sleep? How can anyone EVER sleep?! 

You may be one of those super lucky people who can sleep on a chicken’s lip! You put your head on the pillow and poof! You're asleep! You absolute lucky dabber. My relationship with sleep has always been weird. Apparently, I slept well as a baby. I was a very early riser, but I needed my bed early. I remember in Junior school my bedtime was always earlier than my friends. Boo! No Adrian Mole for me! But if I got overtired, I would get really nauseous and often actually vom. (Bad times for my vom-averse mother!) 

As an adult I've had lots of bouts of bad sleep especially during stressful periods. I remember visiting a lavender farm in Oz and left convinced that the "sleep balm" I'd bought held the key to the secrets of sleep! It didn't. My pregnancies were tricky, and sleep was difficult especially when the cholestasis (itching thing) kicked in but taking piriton definitely helped keep me asleep after I eventually drifted off. THANKFULLY during newborn stages insomnia did NOT rear his ugly head and I could sleep when I was actually able. 

My sleep obsession has meant that I am very aware of sleep hygiene. I have a cool, dark bedroom, cotton sheets, few electronics in my room, no caffeine after 4pm, exercise most days, no late night snacks, no blue light on my phone and I only watch ASMR videos on my phone before I fall asleep. I also have used meditation apps, but I struggle with the concentration needed so I find ASMR more relaxing. 

But in 2018 I had a bout of meta-anxiety. Since then, I've managed to convince myself that I absolutely AM a permanent insomniac. My sleep was deeply affected by a prolonged, months long episode of anxiety attacks. And the more I couldn't sleep, either at night or in the day when trying to catch up, the worse I felt. It was a complete vicious circle. 

That episode, coupled with my awareness of maybe being neurodiverse and learning that I am peri-menopausal (insomnia is common in menopause and with ADHDers), has definitely added to the narrative I've been telling myself. I CAN NOT SLEEP, UNAIDED, EVER. So, I take over the counter sleep aids (antihistamines), melatonin or a very limited prescription of sleeping pills. And obvs wine other nights although that's usually counterproductive as I am sure you know. 

But the problem is that I've now fully convinced myself that I can't actually sleep a wink unless I take something (recent new addition... CBD drinks!). This is obviously due to being an anxious person. I fixate and tell myself repeatedly things that aren't actually true so that I eventually believe that they are. It's one of the single most annoying habits I have and it's exhausting. 

I have spent the summer worrying about sleep and then proving to myself that actually I CAN sleep without any aid whatsoever, even if that means I take hours to get to sleep. I DO sleep. It's not ideal because 5 days a week I have to get up early so not being able to sleep til 1-2am isn't great. The pull of a pill that promises a full night’s sleep IS so hard to resist. The idea of sweet, sweet oblivion for 7 maybe even 8 hours is immense. But I need to remember that I will function on 5-6 hours too. And stop telling myself LIES! I DO SLEEP. I WILL SLEEP.

Do YOU SLEEP? Tell me how you sleep! Tell me how much you sleep. I need to hear your stories. Tell me I’m not alone!

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