Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Insomnia: The Silent Killer

It is 11:12pm. I have already taken my nighttime pills, gone to sleep, and woken up.

It is 11:12pm. I am wide awake and have no idea of when I am going to fall asleep again.

You know what that means? That's right. It's time to talk about Insomnia.

I have had Insomnia for the past three or so years. About as long as I've been struggling with mental illness. Although many of us who struggle with various forms of mental illness also deal with Insomnia, anyone can struggle with it at any point in their lives.

No one is safe!! (You'll have to pardon me on this post. I get a bit goofy when I'm tired.)

Speaking from a medical standpoint Mayo Clinic defines Insomnia as such, "Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep."

At various points over the past few years I have struggled with all of these different ways Insomnia can present. Unfortunately for me good sleeping habits and sleep health was not enough to help with me and I have to use medication to aid my sleep.

When I tell someone that without my meds I don't sleep, I think a lot of the time they feel as if I am exaggerating. Do not get me wrong. If I do not take my sleeping meds I do not fall asleep. Ever. I will lay in bed, awake, all night. This was tested one unfortunate night in college where I was having a particularly rough time on a paper and stayed up too late to be able to take my meds. I had a class at 7am the next day and knew that I would not be able to wake up for it. So I did not take my pills and I did not sleep that night (Sorry mom and dad).

This is not good to do. Not sleeping often exacerbates my symptoms. I try my hardest to keep to a very strict sleep schedule even while in college. I try to be in bed by 10 most nights.

However nights like tonight that doesn't help much. I am not sure what it is about 11pm, but I have been waking up about now every night for a couple weeks. I will get a few hours of good sleep and then I am awake and in and out for the rest of the night. If I'm lucky between 4 and 6 I will fall asleep again.

Insomnia is a silent killer. It slithers in unsuspectingly and screws with your entire life. My therapist says eating, drinking, and sleep are the three keys to physical health and when one of those is going haywire then my mental health symptoms are soon to follow.

Thankfully I have developed some useful coping skills and I am doing pretty well at the moment. Sleep is always something to watch out for though. It does not happen often, but I know that if I am ever awake all night even with taking my pills then we have a problem.

Those of us with insomnia are usually always tired. For me personally I always feel tired and I never wake up refreshed. I can only imagine how people who have it worse than me feel. When a person does not sleep it seeps into their life and they do not perform as well during the day, their work may suffer, they might be agitated or irritable, and depending on how long they have gone without sleep cognitive functioning can be affected.

As always, I try to find the good in problems. Now that I'm in college if I need to stay up a little later to work on as assignment, because let's be real, as hard as we try late nights happen, all I have to do is not take my pills for an extra hour or so and I can stay up no problem.

For now though, I should probably try and go back to sleep...or go downstairs and get a bowl of sherbet. One of those two things is about to happen. I'll let you decide which one.

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