Hey guys, sorry for no post in the last week… needed to time process. Tonight/today depending on where your location in the planet, I would like to talk about my least and favorite thing: sleep. It is actually going to be divided into two post, one about insomnia and one about hypersomnia because: 1) I don’t want to overwhelm 2) It’s late at night and I have a rotation in children’s ICU tomorrow… tonight… today? You know what I mean… I hope.
Here’s why: the amount of sleep can tell us a lot about ourselves physically and mentally. I suffer from insomnia, where I get oh maybe 3 hours of sleep a night, 4 if I am lucky. However, what college caffeine addict student does not have trouble sleeping as she dreams of letters chasing her and professors telling her they “Need to see you after class”? Seriously, in college students don’t go oooooo but we are thinking it.
Anyway, before I start my journey into sleepy hallow, here is an open letter to my insomnia.
I was 12 when I invited you into my life. At first, it started with a late night here, a late night there; trying to catch up or get ahead. Those honors classes took a toll on me. I was in sixth-grade and taking classes seventh and eighth graders took. I asked for your help, to keep me awake just one more hour so I could understand the math problem or read another chapter of my book because it felt good when I knew the answers in class. At age 13, I was taking high school classes, learning my third language. I only saw two places school and home. You became my best friend in the sea of people who couldn’t see past my brains and smiles.
I turned 14; my body was tired, but my mind hungered for more. Online research in biology because I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Reading till two in the morning because that was my only time to escape. Then right before my 15th birthday, we had a fight. My mind had grown weary and my soul was close to dying from exhaustion.
I knew I was on my own when it came to our relationship problems when my mother had just gotten home from work around one in the morning after working the second shift.
“Oh, Lez, you’re still awake?”
“Yeah, mom. I’ve been reading some medicine stuff, and I think I have insomnia.”
Her answer still makes me laugh; she didn’t how serious it was: “Lesley, all you have to do is sleep.”
I looked at her in shock, and I heard you laugh. In my mind, I thought, “If only it was that easy.”
I told her, trying to contain my anger at her for not understanding, “Okay, I will. Goodnight.”
At fifteen, our relationship became abusive. You demanded more and more time; you threw parties in my mind even though I didn’t like some of your party guests. You and your friends partied all night, and I would have to clean up the mess early in the morning before anyone ever woke up.
High school was a nightmare, at least it would have been had you allowed me the pleasure of sleep. Still you kept your promise. I allowed you in my life, and you allowed me the ability to stay up and learn. My grades never suffered. Sure, I was slowly dying from exhaustion, most days it felt like I had run a marathon, but my grades never fell lower than a B-.
At one point, I thought I had lost my mind, but it turned out I was just sick. I felt weird when I slept for longer than three or four hours. When I moved my senior year, you were the only friend that came with me. You loved me that much.
In college, I got protective of you. I would hear people say how they had only slept 4 hours the night before. I would smirk and laugh. “Foolish people, they don’t know insomnia like I do. He is my life long lover,” I would think.
I am a senior in college now; I am 22, and I still wear your designer bags under eyes. Only this time I no longer hiding them. I know will always have them; I will always have you to keep me company on those long nights when you become extra needy.
It’s hard to explain. I love you; you have kept the nightmares, both living and nonliving at bay, but oh how I hate you. I hate the parties that you randomly have; I hate how you don’t allow me to sleep when sleep is my only way to dream of an ideal world. You have caused and sometimes cause so much pain. You are a secret poison, and yet, a secret weapon.
Our relationship is classic abuse. It’s textbook and in a way, comical. You allow your friends to mock me, and I take it because I enjoy my high-grade point average. You allow your friends to bully me, and I take it because I have helped many of my close friends escape your friends, escape you. You allow your friends to abuse me, and I take it because I can understand those who you have tortured as well.
It’s two in the morning, and now I lay me down to sleep. The room will be pitch black and then your friends will come as well. I don’t mind them anymore, in fact, I have become a great hostess, wouldn’t you say? The clock will strike three and tears will start to pour; your friends are jerks. The fourth hour will arrive, and I will close my eyes for a second only to open them three or four hours later. I will sit up in shock, and I will see that night has become day, and isn’t that beautiful?
It’s two in the morning, and now I lay me down to sleep. I know the routine, for years it has been the same, but for tonight, watch me fight.
Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric and medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, specific substances, and/or certain biological factors.
There are many medical conditions (some mild and others more serious) that can lead to insomnia. In some cases, a medical condition itself causes insomnia, while in other cases, symptoms of the condition cause discomfort that can make it difficult for a person to sleep.
Examples of medical conditions that can cause insomnia are:
Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease
In addition, insomnia may be a symptom of underlying sleep disorders. For example, restless legs syndrome which is a neurological condition in which a person has an uncomfortable sensation of needing to move his or her legs. IT SUCKS! It feels like you need to run a marathon to earn sleep. This can lead to insomnia. Patients with restless legs syndrome typically experience worse symptoms in the later part of the day, during periods of inactivity, and in the transition from wake to sleep, which means that falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult.
Insomnia can be caused by psychiatric conditions such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse such as: Addictions: We all have them, Alcohol:Ineffectively Drowning Problems since Egypt 3000 B.C. part 1, To My Pill Popping Peps, eating disorder, ADHD, PTSD, and panic attacks Panic Attacks Guaranteed or Your Money Back. Psychological struggles can make it hard to sleep, insomnia itself can bring on changes in mood, and shifts in hormones and physiology can lead to both psychiatric issues and insomnia at the same time.
Sleep problems may represent a symptom of psychological condition, and the risk of severe insomnia is much higher in patients with major conditions. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depending on the disorder.
It’s important to know that symptoms of the psychological disorder and insomnia can be linked, and one can make the other worse. The good news is that both are treatable regardless of which came first. There are cognitive behavioral techniques and sleep hygiene tips that can help with insomnia, or stop being so hooked on caffeine.
Do not give up hope, take moments to breathe before you go to bed, read a good book (I recommend the GOOD BOOK aka the Bible, but that is a personal choice), drink some tea or hot chocolate. Do not eat right before you plan to sleep and most importantly do not be checking emails, texts, or social media.
As the good old saying goes: I only sleep with people I love, which is why I have insomnia.
And with that, I bid thee long nights, sweet dreams, and an even longer life.