Who needs sleep? (ME!!!)

Who needs sleep? (ME!!!)

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I love to sleep. A lot. Even during my teenage and young adult life, when most of my friends loved staying up really late, I had “grandma” tendencies and preferred going to bed early. It was a chore to stay up late (although I did it every now and then to have a social life).

Part of the reason why sleep is so important to me (besides the many health reasons associated with it), is that it’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I’ve called myself a roller coaster insomniac. I’d have weeks where I would get very little sleep until I was so exhausted that I’d finally have a week or two of decent sleep. I am not one of those people who can just get up in the middle of the night and do other things. As a result I have spent many hours of my life staring at the ceiling in my bedroom.

Of course, any time I say I have insomnia I get an overload of suggestions. I generally ignore the suggestions involving drugs (or even most supplements, no matter how “natural” people say they are). But I’m pretty sure I’ve tried just about every “natural” approach to better sleep including:

  • Yoga before bed (this definitely does help me relax and something I still try and do every night.)
  • Breathing exercises (same as above.)
  • Relaxation techniques—too many to name
  • Eye masks
  • Drinking warm milk with honey before bed
  • Not drinking water after 8 P.M.
  • Exercising to “wear me out” before bed
  • Acupressure
  • Magnesium Oil
  • Etc.

Some of these did help a little. And the good news is that with each new attempt I found a wealth of new knowledge about the body, our hormones, and sleep. The not-so-good news is that I also got an overload of information about how not getting enough sleep will basically kill me.

Awesome. Just what I need to hear.

Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but take a look at what sleep deprivation has been associated with:

  • Impaired ability to handle stress
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Inability to focus
  • Irritability
  • Hypertension
  • Slower reaction times
  • Weight changes
  • Driver Fatigue

Oh yeah, and long-term total sleep deprivation has caused death in lab animals.

See, sleep issues ARE dramatic!

Image by Jen Gotch, Flickr

Of course my insomnia took a major turn for the worse once C was born. I knew the sleepless nights would be my hardest battle when I joined the ranks of parenthood. But it just didn’t get better, even after C started sleeping through the night. Any noise would wake me up and then I’d be up for two or more hours. Always. For the past year my average amount of sleep has been between 2 – 4 hours of very interrupted sleep. And in case you are wondering, I go to bed early. Always.

Pretty much, I’m going to die. (Shoot. There I go being dramatic again.)

In all honesty I am incredibly grateful that I have *somehow* been able to function as a human being this past year with no need for a single “sick day” (I’m pretty sure it’s the combination of good nutrition and lots of prayer). And while I often am thankful that I’ve done so well with so little sleep, I was at my wits end. I just wanted to sleep.

Guess who’s finally getting some zzzzzz’s?

Yep. I’m slowly recovering. In fact, for the past 3 – 4 weeks I have had a major turn around. Those nights where C randomly screams out and then doses back to sleep (you know, the type of thing that used to wake me up and keep me up for hours)… well, now when that happens I’m back to sleep with in 15 minutes (often less). And unless you have also experienced sleep issues you might not recognize how amazingly fantastic that is.

Sometimes I cry just thinking about how great it is.  (seriously.)

So what changed in the past three weeks? Well, I’m glad you asked. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. (I just love these cliff-hangers!)

In the meantime: Have you struggled with insomnia before? What helped you?

 

(top featured image by Dalla*, Flickr)

Sources:
E-Medicine Health Staff. (2007). Sleep disorders and aging. Retrieved July 5, 2007 from http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sleep_disorders_and_aging/article_em.htm.
Hellmich, N. (2004). Sleep loss may equal weight gain. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-12-06-sleep-weight-gain_x.htm.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2009). Insomnia. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/insomnia/DS00187.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d). Drowsy driving and automobile crashes. Retrieved October 6, 2010, from http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/drowsy_driving1/drowsy.html#V. POPULATION GROUPS.
Neubauer, D. (1999). Sleep problems in the elderly. Retrieved October 7, 2010, from http://www.aafp.org/afp/990501ap/2551.html.
Rechtschaffen A, Bergmann B, “Sleep deprivation in the rat by the disk-over-water method” Behavioural Brain Research Volume 69, Issues 1–2, July–August 1995, Pages 55–63 The Function of Sleep doi:10.1016/0166-4328(95)00020-T

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

8 comments

  1. Pingback: Earthing: When was the last time you hugged a tree? | | Thank Your BodyThank Your Body

  2. Chandra

    I wish I could give you an answer to the “what helped you” question, but I haven’t found it yet. Just as you describe – sometimes homeopathic remedies help, sometimes not. Sometimes yoga or breathing exercises, sometimes not. And I can’t get up in the middle of the night and do things either. I just – lay there. Still looking for answers…


    1. Post author
      robin

      Sounds a lot like me. You’d think with all that staring at the ceiling and thinking that we’d be the smartest people around. :)

      Check out my earthing post. It’s the only thing that has made a remarkable difference. Best of all, you just need to take your shoes off.

  3. Pingback: Earthing: How I helped my insomnia (and a Giveaway!) | | Thank Your BodyThank Your Body

  4. Pingback: How constructive rest can ease stress and exhaustion.

  5. Pingback: Earthing: When was the last time you hugged a tree?

  6. Amanda

    I have hormone related insomnia and I cannot get to sleep, and once I do it a hard but not restful sleep. My LO sleeps through the night so I don’t have to worry about that. I prefer to be barefoot and will go outside barefoot to get the mail. I do wear flip flops a lot too but that’s only because people like to let there pets pee and poop in my yard (I don’t mind they usually clean it up). I actually love shoes, but only if I have to wear them…I’d still much rather be barefoot. Do I need to try more “earthing”? Or is this something that no natural remedy is going to help and since I won’t take medication for it, am I doomed to sleepless nights forever?


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I don’t believe you have to be doomed. I think earthing could help, but hormonal insomnia may require a bit more searching. I’d start with getting your vitamin D levels checked. My insomnia sky rocketed where I was literally sleeping about 2 hours a night for five nights in a row. I went to my MD/Homeopath and she checked my thyroid, hormones, and vitamin D which was really low. Getting in some D3 helped more than anything. I also add mineral drops to a small amount of OJ in the morning and night which has helped. And I get adjusted from a skilled chiropractor when things get bad.

      Good luck! There is hope. It just may take some investigation for your individual circumstance.

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