Sleep and I were once in love. We spent hours together, sometimes half the day. Judging from the amount of time we were together, you would think we were forever inseparable. It was glorious looking back; I was really, really good at sleeping. Then everything changed about ten years ago forever (prior to that, my sleep was poor but I didn’t need as much).
Since that dreadful first night of poor sleep, tossing and turning, I have always maintained that “tonight will be the night I sleep really, really well.” I mean this certainly can’t go on forever. While ten years is not forever, it is forever to an insomniac. You see, when you don’t sleep well, your brain mashes everything up into a giant brain game where you have to sort everything out.
About a year ago, I made the concrete decision to not talk about my poor relationship with sleep anymore. I didn’t want to be labeled or known as “the poor sleeper.” I also recognized how I was overstaying my welcome with all my sleep talks with friends. It’s not that they weren’t concerned, rather they were tired of my conversation being set on repeat. And by talking about it so frequently, I was in a way creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Obsessions are only productive when it applies to vocations. I even decided to halt telling my family how truly tired I was most days, continuing to try to “fake it until I make it.”
When doctors ask me if I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, I answer “C, all of the above.” I may not fall asleep until 2 AM, I may fall asleep at 10:30 PM and then be wide awake until 2 AM, or I may never get into a deep sleep at all. The irony is that despite how tired I am during the evening, once I go to bed, I am wide awake. Why does my brain want to be so productive during the evening! Doesn’t my brain know that I have to be a mom the next day, work, and be on 100% all day!
I have checked the box on every sleep solution, met with doctors, holistic doctors, energy healers, and more.
I know NOT to:
-Stare at screens before bed (they really do keep my brain awake)
-Drink caffeine after noon
-Exercise too late in the day
-Eat too heavy of a dinner
-Do anything stressful before bed.
I know I SHOULD:
-Read before bed
-Go to bed the same time each night and be up by 6 AM
-Have a warm bath before bed
-Take supplements that help sleep
-Drink a warm tea or drink
-Get up no matter how tired I am
-Meditate twice a day
And most recently, I visited with an ADHD doctor. After a series of tests, he decided I have mild to moderate ADHD. My brain never, ever shuts off. Thoughts and ideas bounce around all day and all night. While my head is on the pillow, I think about stuff that really doesn’t matter. I write down thoughts on a pad and then close my eyes and the thoughts continue to bounce. Bounce, bounce, and bounce some more. Nothing is really that important. It’s just a party of thoughts up there. After ten years (really more), I am hoping this is the end of an era. Studies show how untreated ADHD manifests into sleepless nights in adults.
Can any Smarties out there relate? If so, I offer my empathy and sleep well wishes. And when you see me next, I promise not to bore you with my sleep dilemmas! I am not an insomniac! I am not an insomniac! I am choosing to wear many other labels proudly, like mom, wife, artist, writer, and friend.