I'm sure that all of you have been in this situation:
Me: I had a lot of trouble sleeping last night.
Well Meaning Friend (WMF): Oh! I'm sorry to hear that! What's been on your mind lately?
First, don't get me wrong! It's nice that these WMFs care! But when the conversation leads to this I tend to just drop the subject for three reasons, one there is nothing major on my mind that is keeping me up at night. Two, I am all about sleep hygiene and have been ritual about it since the night I didn't need my mother tucking me in. And three, though I can understand that the WMFs may have sleep issues from time to time and think they understand, my sleep issue is chronic and it's not just about trying to fall asleep, it's also about staying asleep too.
For ever since I can remember I've had these issues. Even as a child I could not fall asleep, nor could I stay asleep. As an adult, I assumed my problem had to do with being in bed too long so I made it a point to stay up until I was tired. That only worked in my twenties for about five to six years because I was staying up until 3 AM and then waking up at 5:30 AM two to three times per week. It got old-- what can I say? Once I hit my thirties, I decided that a bedtime of 11 PM was more respectable but I'd always wake up at 2:30 AM from a dream, a noise, or having to feed the baby and I wouldn't fall back to sleep until it was 30 minutes before my older one had to wake up to get ready for school. Now that I'm in my forties I just lie there and watch TV until I feel tired enough because I've given up trying to fix my insomnia. Instead I'll just embrace it as part of my life.
Yes, I stare at the clock and hate it, myself, and everything else during those hours I cannot sleep. And I wake up with pain the next morning too. And, YES, it is hard for me to do my daily chores while in that pain but frankly the alternatives to my problem-- at least to me-- seem far worse.
I could try to take sleep aids-- I really could. Especially on those nights of desperation, but the problem is I already have been known to sleep walk without taking any kind of drug. I remember waking one morning to see some half eaten cheese on the kitchen counter and remembered dreaming about eating a piece that turned into me milking a cow. Seriously! It happened! So, for me? A sleep aid any stronger than chamomile or melatonin would be very dangerous!
My insomnia, thankfully, comes in waves and is like actual clockwork-- pun intended! The first wave is waking up once a night at around 12:30-1 AM. I can usually fall back to sleep easily until 4:30 AM rolls around and I'm awakened by my husband coming in from work. The next wave is waking up two-five times a night and having overly stiff joints in the morning. The best way to describe the stiff feeling is having to walk through a swimming pool. My last wave is not being able to fall asleep and then waking up two-four times during the night. Thankfully, I am currently on my last wave as I'm typing this post! Because after these waves I have one blissful week of sleeping like an actual normal person. YAY!!!
In the end, I still get a lot of WMFs that try and tell me to take a bath, get dressed into P.J.s, read a book, avoid taking any naps, and have zero caffeine. I think my favorite bit of advice was not to take naps. I get the sentiment, but in my case, if I don't nap on some days I WILL hurt myself.
I've had days where I've been so groggy that I have put the potholder on one hand and I've used the bare one to lift a pan out of the oven. I just simply cannot NOT take a nap on these days or on the days I must drive my children somewhere. It's just not an option in my world and this is why I've embraced my insomnia.
May all of you have sweet dreams and STAY FABULOUS!
Love and Friendship,