Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Lying Awake Thinking What To Write......




Originally posted on Multiply 20th February 2009

The past week I’ve been visited by my old nemesis ’Insomnia’ again. It’s been a frequent visitor in my life. I have suffered from periodic insomnia since I was a small child, and I've never been too sure exactly why. No-one else in my family has ever had insomnia as far as I know, so it’s nothing hereditary. I think there were several, not necessarily linked, contributing factors (by the way, any of you who have been friends with me since the Y360 days will remember me posting on this subject previously. This is more of a rewrite rather than a repost). 

As a child I used to suffer on a regular basis from scary and disturbing nightmares. I often couldn't remember what exactly they were about, but I had them so often I eventually became afraid to sleep. I would force myself to stay awake as long as I could. I also started to need some sort of nightlight, as I became terrified of the dark. This started when I was about five years old and continued until I was about eleven. Eventually the nightmares lessened and then disappeared, except for the odd ones everyone has from time to time. However, even after the nightmares stopped I was plagued by sleeplessness and I started to develop habits that seemed to reinforce the insomniac pattern. I had always been an avid reader, and I took to reading books underneath my bedsheets by torchlight until the early hours of the morning. 

Later in life, when I was married, it used to sometimes annoy me that my wife could fall asleep at the drop of a hat, and sleep undisturbed for hours, while I lay awake most of the night, again usually reading to pass the time. The advent of the internet was a godsend for me. I have spent so many nights chatting to folks in other parts of the world, and more recently blogging, when it seems the rest of the world are snoring their heads off. 

For many many years, my usual sleep pattern, when not suffering bouts of insomnia, seemed to be around 2am to 7am, but then something which made me look at my insomnia in a different light happened. About 15 years ago, during the only time in my life I was unemployed, I was out of work for about 6 months. In that time I suddenly discovered a sleeping pattern which seemed natural to me. I would sleep from 5am to 11am UK time. I've never figured out why, but that is the only time I have felt comfortable with a sleep pattern. Maybe I should have been born on the East Coast of the US, where that pattern would equate to around midnight to 6am, a much more ‘normal’ pattern. 

I have tried all sorts of remedies both medical and traditional to rid myself of these bouts of insomnia. Herbal remedies, caffeine-free diets, sleeping pills. All to no avail. I've given up trying now, whenever the insomnia kicks in I just have to go with it until sleep returns. I guess what I need to do is find a way of sleeping from 5am to 11am without being unemployed. Or move to America. Now there’s an idea!!

Additional note 5th December 2012: since I wrote this, nothing has changed, I'm still plagued by bouts of insomnia at irregular intervals. Guess I'm stuck with it for life!!

20 comments:

  1. Very interesting to me. I also suffered from insomnia, talked to professionals and got the usual advice, which maybe worked for them but didn't work for me. When I had a job that went from 3pm to midnight, I was fine. I could sleep 2 am to 9 or 10. But working in schools for so many years meant I needed to be awake by 6 am and I never did learn to easily fall asleep before midnight or 1 am. Are some people naturally night owls while others are morning larks? I don't know.

    I do think the medical profession does not take insomnia as seriously as it should. I don't mean that they should rush to create new sleeping pills, but that they should take their patients' discomfort more seriously than is often the case. And look to uncover causes and treatments that might be effective.

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    1. Hi Benni. Being called a 'night owl' used to annoy me greatly. I don't think a lot of folks realised that it's not a choice consciously made. Yes, I do agree that 'insomnia' is not a condition that doctor's take very seriously. Prescribing sleeping pills is just a way of masking the problem, not actually uncovering the root cause.

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  2. Interesting blog, I can sympathise
    I suffer various sleep disorders
    from not being able to stay asleep and waking every 20 mins
    ( I have no problem getting off to sleep)
    or I just do not feel tired for days
    then there is the narcolepsy where I fall asleep sitting up or on the toilet or with my face in my dinner#
    it is very annoying because my brain needs to decide if it wants to constantly sleep or stay awake *sigh*
    I do weird things in my sleep as you know from my blogs, from setting my self alight to cooking or getting dressed, I can even write pages of stuff in my sleep and it is perfectly neat !!
    I have been told I have a 50/50 brain and that it can be awake and asleep at the same time
    I blame some of it on the paranormal work and the fact I used to work as an on call vet nurse, both of those things gave me a disrupted sleep pattern and my brain got used to it
    I am afraid of the dark in my bedroom, quite ridiculous considering my job, but it is because I get "visits" so I sleep with three lamps on.
    I am not afraid of the dark anywhere else, I have had episodes of "the old hag" i,e sleep paralysis which is not nice
    one of the times (out of the hundreds ) that I wake up is always 3.05am which is the time my Gran died
    I truly am a night owl though, I love night time because it gives me peace from the neighbours so I stay up til about 5am doing my work in silence,
    reading is also probably one of the causes..I cannot sleep without reading for at least two hours first, I did that even when I was in hospital dying of pneumonia
    obviously due to my illnesses I am awake alot due to pain but most of the time I wake for no reason, I even filmed myself while asleep and noticed that every so often I would sit up in my bed , look around then go back to sleep !
    sleeping pills have no effect on me
    I am fuming angry with the so called sleep clinic round here and I will be doing another ranty blog about it
    it is very distressing that it is possible that if a cure was found for the lack of sleep the illness I have can be minimised, we all need sleep to heal, no wonder I am always ill
    my son is the same, he is a night owl, we spent many a night sitting there chatting til the sun came up
    I hope that one day we both get some sort of relief from this
    you saying that you found that sleeping from 7am to 11am worked for you, it is the same for me, I stay up til 6am then sleep til 12 in the afternoon, those hours of sleep never give me any wake ups so I wonder why trying to sleep any other time does ?

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    1. Hi Eevee. Yes, I know from your posts the many problems you have with your sleep. Frankly, it makes my sleep problem seem minor in comparison. The narcolepsy, in particular, sounds un-nerving. Just falling asleep in the middle of normal waking tasks. I guess your other condition, where you do waking tasks while still asleep would be the exact opposite of narcolepsy. Does that condition have a name?

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  3. I vote for move to America and I'm sure I know of some else that would 2nd that motion. I often have problems with going to sleep but not as bad as you suffer.

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    1. Hi Lynda. Yes, I think I know who you mean!! LOL.

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  4. I'm very sorry for your restless nights. Insomnia must be really bad. Fortunately, I have very sound sleep without taking any sleep inducing pill. Sometimes, sound sleep is troublesome, specially if I have to wake up much earlier than the usual... Haven't your sleep ever been monitored at a hospital?

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    1. Hi Belita. No, I was never referred to any sleep specialist by my doctor over the years. I am so used to it now, I don't even bother going to my doctor about it.

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  5. The move to America sounds the perfect cure .....

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    1. It's a pity I can't get that move prescribed by a doctor and paid for by the NHS!! LOL.

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  6. I can certainly sympathise, Mitch. I have suffered occasionally - usually related to cheese at suppertime, rather than a condition. Even so, moving to the States definitely looks like the answer. On the other hand, I do find I sit up blogging and chatting far later than I should. Perhaps that's not only a cure for insomnia, but an insomniac condition itself.

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    1. LOL. If only mine were cheese-related, I'd have a simple enough cure :-))

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  7. Being one of the wives that sleep when the husband on a night shift at home, I get you. Have no big problem with sleep, I just love my bed. I go under at 11.00-11.30 and usually sleep until about 5.30, but remain in bed and dose away until 7.50 when I actually arise. Coupled with my 1-2 hours after lunch (golden retired oldies can allow that) I am usually wide awake and ready to go during the day. Mr. Swiss goes to bed around midnight or later, gets up when he wakes up (around 6.00 in the morning) might sometimes come back to bed for half an hour and sleeps lunchtime as well. We both have completely different sleeping patterns, but it works. I ignore his nocturnal excursions to the living room and he just lets me sleep. I used to worry thinking he doesn't get enough sleep, but he is always wide awake and ready to go during the day, so what's the point. After 44 years we have got used to it.

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    1. Given enough time, one can get used to most things. I'm very used to my periods of sleeplessness now, and don't often think of it consciously, it's just something that 'is'.

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  8. So sorry to hear of your condition Mitch.
    Maybe being in the USA in that time zone would do the trick and settle your insomnia.
    Anyway I will let you know if I hear of anything that will help you.
    All the Best.

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    1. It would be nice to live over there and find out :-)) Thanks Milli.

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  9. Hi mate saving this to read with my morning coffee tomorrow;)

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  10. I was a sound sleeper until I got to 60+. Now my bladder wakes me up about three times each night asking to be emptied. I find its really useful (when I return from the toilet) to try to slip back into the same dream I was having when I was woken up.

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    1. Well, at least I don't suffer from that problem just yet!! Give it time.....

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