The Fucking Insomnia Fairy

Today I wanna talk about sleep. Mainly because I didn’t really do any of it last night. So the topic is kinda fresh on my mind, foggy and dysfunctional that it is. Sleep disruption is one of the common symptoms of PTSD. And indeed many mental illnesses. It’s also one of those things, much like a panic attack, that people without mental illness tend to misapply to their own circumstances. And yes, that is a persistent thorn in my ass, as evidenced by last week’s post.

Sleep deprivation manifest in a couple of ways. The first is insomnia as personified by our good friend The Insomnia Fairy. People like to use variations on “Oh God, am I tired. I had insomnia last night” to describe having a late night. Thats…not it and as someone who suffers from actual sleep disruptions it’s kinda aggravating. And by  kinda  I mean it makes me want to hit them. In the face. With heavy office furniture. That has been tied to heavier mining equipment.

Here’s how actual insomnia works. You get tired. You want to sleep. It’s time to sleep. You have earned the right to sleep. You try to sleep. And your stupid fucking brain won’t let you because your stupid fucking neuroses and stupider fucking irrational anxieties about everything under the sun and nothing at all in particular won’t shit-snacking let you!

Let’s take an example from last night. I meant to get to bed at 11pm. I have my alarm set for 7am because I have stuff to do today. I’d been up about eighteen hours by then and had a fairly active day running errands and whatnot. By rights I should have been able to sleep. Instead 11pm comes and goes and my body refuses to shut down. Midnight comes. And goes. Same-same. Finally, around 1230 I force myself to go to bed. I even take two sleeping pills. I get into bed in the dark next to my beautiful wife and dumb little dog, close my eyes. And lay awake until two-the-shit-snacks-on-a-fuck-me-cracker-am staring at the inside of my eyelids . On nineteen hours wakefulness and double the recommended dosage of the sleep aid I was on.

That, ladies and gentlemen is insomnia. Not deciding to stay up on the phone or social media til the wee small and then paying for it the next day. You want to sleep. You should be sleeping . But you physically can’t because your brain is racing around your skull like a hamster on Red Bull.Your body is exhausted. Your mind is exhausted and you just can’t shut off.

There are some ways you can help combat insomnia. Make sure that your bedroom is as dark as possible. Our bodies produce chemicals that wake us up if the light levels are too high. You can get a good piece of blackout cloth from Joannes or another local fabric store to use in lightproofing the room. Don’t do any stimulants after a certain hour of the night. Say nine hours before you want to be awake the next day. Don’t eat or exercise in that timeframe either.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom. Don’t bring your phone or laptop or tablet in there with you because it’s one more distraction from what you’re there to really do-SLEEP. I won’t advise you to take anything because I’m not a doctor. The only things I’ll say on the subject of chemical sleep aids is that I’ve gotten good results from valerian root extract and my wife has gotten equally good ones from melatonin supplements. This should in NO WAY be construed as an endorsement or a prescription. Do your own research, talk to an actual doctor and figure out for yourself what works best for you.

I also advise very strongly against drinking yourself to sleep. That’s a game of diminishing returns and a fast track to alcoholism. What happens there is you go from having it help you to needing it to get any sleep at all. You wind up needing more and more and more to get the job done and if you try to quit, the insomnia and nightmares that result are HORRENDOUS. So don’t drink yourself to sleep ok? Don’t do it.

Instead, try deep breathing exercises. Take a breath, hold it for a five count, release, repeat. A white noise generator like a fan or one of the ones they make for babies are also helpful. The overall object should be to create a safe, quiet, restful space in which sleep is easier to come by.

None of these are gauranteed fixes but they should help. Sleep is essential to good physical and emotional health and the body starts to break down after too many days without enough of it. You can get physically sick, your metabolism can slow down which will contribute to weight gain and, on an emotional side it’s harder to combat stress when you’re sleep deprived.

I suppose there’s a certain irony in someone who hasn’t had 30 hours of sleep in the last five days talking about this subject but I hope these tips help.

See you next time

 

 

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