… Well I had promised a post on insomnia, though I imagined it would bea more insightful (or at least coherent) job than the following rant/whinge. In all honesty, two hours isn’t horrific by my (rather poor) standards. It’s just about bearable; it’s when I literally don’t sleep at all for days on end that I start to really panic and break down.
I still don’t know exaclty what caused my sleeping problems. I’m assuming it’s something to do with the bigger-lack-of-health-picture over the last few years. The first time I remember it being really bad was in my first year of university. I didn’t sleep for a week, ended up convinced that my curtains were melting off the wall and screaming down the phone at my parents at 3am (poor sods.) Grim. Eventually I went to the doctor who gave me Valium and told me to hope for the best. Not exactly a permanent solution.
The few alternatives I’ve found haven’t been much better. I can’t keep relying on substances to get me to sleep. I can’t remember the last time I had a totally natural night’s rest. I went to the doctor again this Christmas, only to be told I ‘obviously have a psychological barrier’ when it comes to sleep, and so have been referred to a sleep clinic in London. For some reason that brings to mind an image of me with electrodes in my head and looking like one of those lab monkeys that gets given cigarettes (…not that I’d be all over THAT or anything…) Brainwave monitoring aside, I really hope I get some answers and an action plan that is sustainable in the long term.
Insomnia, in my opinion, is one of the loneliest things in the world. I end up terrified of going to bed, knowing that hours of tossing and turning are waiting. It drives my boyfriend insane – he’s one of those lucky people who could probably fall asleep standing up if he put his mind to it. It’s also one of those irritating issues where everybody on the bloody planet feels authorised to give their opinion on how best to tackle it:
‘Oh the ONLY thing that works for me is a hot bath and a milky drink,’
‘Have you tried listening to the World Service?’
‘Take tryptophan, it’s a natural supplement that…’
‘Make a list of everything worrying you!’
Irritatingly, all these people tend to be the ones who either fall asleep at 10pm every night, or go to bed at 4am then sleep till midday. I imagine top of my list of worries would be ‘I can’t effing sleep.’ The thing is, I know people are just trying to help, but do they not think I’ve tried milky drinks (gag) and hot baths? I’ve taken 4 Nytol (the ‘one a night’ ones too!) to no avail, tried all the herbal supplements and still end up watching the sunrise. Prescription sleeping tablets work to a certain degree: they knock me out, but leave me with a terrible ‘hangover’ the next day. Lunesta (Zopiclone) left such a horrific metallic taste in my mouth that I was convinced I’d somehow ended up with bleeding lungs. I’ve done the ‘no-caffeine’ thing. I’ve counted sheep till I hit the 2,000 mark and lost count.
Apologies for what is essentially a big fat moan, but I suppose what I never realised about sleep deprivation until I suffered from it myself is how depressing it is. 48 hour marker, my emotional stability crumbles, my vision starts to blur and I vascillate between uncontrollable anger and floods of tears. Productivity goes out the window and tackling anything at all – whether it be work or day-to-day life – becomes impossible. And it’s not even like I can use all those hours of sleeplessness to catch up on work: I’m exhausted beyond the point of being able to read or write, but the second my head hits the pillow my eyes ping open and my mind races.
It’s now 8.08am, and I’ve been awake since 5.30, having seen 3.34 on the clock. I’m going to go to the library and try to bang out some work, though I already feel rather crappy. I’m starting to think I might need someone to just batter me with a sledge hammer at night. Unconscious at 4am sounds preferable to ‘awake.’
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