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
- Magnesium Oil
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
- Heart disease
- Inability to focus
- 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!
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)
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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