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Sleep & The Insomniac

I've had a hard time sleeping since I was a kid. I don't know if it's a hormonal issue or if my brain is just overactive, but I cannot remember a time in my life when I slept honest-to-God well.

It's always one thing or another: I lay in bed for hours trying to get to sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night inexplicably and cannot go back to sleep no matter how hard I try, I never do a full REM cycle, leaving me napping for 6-ish hours before I give up and go to my desk to write or read for a bit before going into work, I have a really bad dream and it shakes me so badly that I can't sleep until I've calmed down... the list goes on.

It was really bad while I was working the night shift. I'm a night owl, always have been. My ideal life schedule would be waking up around 11AM and going to bed around 3AM on a daily basis. But going to sleep around 5 or 6 AM? Absolutely not. I'd get home as the sun was rising, and then toss and turn for a few hours until the lawn work started at 9AM. Once that happened, sleep was a lost cause.

Thankfully, MomLady got me a really nice set of earplugs, and those helped to drown out the cacophony created by the armada of weedwhackers and leafblowers that seemed to be permanently stationed just outside my bedroom window.

That didn't change the fact that it was light outside, though. Even blackout curtains couldn't help me, because my body simply knew that it was daytime and refused to allow sleep to occur. So incredibly frustrating, especially when you're so exhausted that you can't see straight.

That's the worst part, I think. The tiredness. You know you have the capacity to sleep. You are lacking in energy. Your body is begging for a nice, relaxing, energy replenishment session.

And yet sleep never comes...

It's like they say in Fight Club...

I've had so many people tell me, "Oh, it's because you're not getting enough exercise throughout the day." Shut up. I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and run a 5k every single time. Sometimes I lift weights on top of that. Other days, I do interval training that leaves me covered in sweat and physically so tired that I have to practically crawl to my car in order to get home. So fleh on you. I get plenty of exercise.

"Why don't you try some melatonin?" I've tried it a few times with varying results. The first time I tried it, nothing. It had absolutely no effect whatsoever. A few attempts later, I hibernated for 14 hours and was massively late for work the next day. Not only that, but I was groggy and fuzzy for a full 48 hours after that (not to mention I didn't get a wink of sleep the following night). After that, I decided not to use melatonin again unless it was a weekend.

ZzzQuil helped me get to sleep initially, but it wore off after a few hours, and my brain was back to it's sleep-thwarting ways.

"You might have sleep apnea. You should do a sleep study!" Maybe. I'll think about it. I don't really have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea other than tiredness (no sore or dry throat, headaches, loud snoring, etc.), but I don't see how exploring that as an option couldn't hurt. We'll see.

So as it is... I deal with this on a daily basis. I sound super complain-y and miserable, but honestly, this is all I've ever known. The only reason that I'm even writing this is because it has been brought to my attention by many people that my sleep habits are not normal. I knew I was a night owl, but I didn't know it was as bad as it apparently is. Color me now informed, I guess.

Here's hoping that I find a way to make it better in the future. I'm still looking for alternative methods.

Do you have sleep problems or insomnia? What do you do to combat them?



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