Insomnia may be more common than you think. Did you know an estimated 30 percent of people deal with insomnia? Although I couldn’t find clear cut numbers, I know that number is much higher in the chronic illness community, for a variety of reasons: ranging from pain to stress, to a body that has less of desire to behave.
When thinking back through my adulthood, I remember having it as early as 20. College used to keep me up at night, going over mnemonics in my head, studying my mind’s eye knowledge. Interestingly, did you know insomnia can be genetic? My grandmother had it and my son has it too. Thankfully for me it’s waxed and waned throughout the years, that is until MECFS.
Insomnia now, or for the past six years, has become a part of my life. I brush my teeth, I comb my hair, I have insomnia. When I first fell ill, I was freaking out about it. I felt all this pressure to return to my normal sleep pattern and would shame myself for not having done so. And then I read a small blurb in a self-compassion book that basically said do not make the time you are awake so anxiety ridden that that anxiety itself is keeping you up. It went on to say, instead be peaceful, enjoy the quiet, enjoy the stillness of the night. You will sleep again. A light bulb went off for me. Here I was unnecessarily beating myself up over an illness I cannot control, and its desire to mess with my circadian rhythm. So, I made some changes, but they aren’t popular ones.
Over the years I’ve read a variety of opinions on how to tackle insomnia. All I can say is what works for one person just may not work for another. I tried sleeping pills, I tried regularly scheduling sleep times, I tried so many things, and this has been the most effective. I simply just allow myself to be awake, peacefully, quietly. I enjoy knowing that everyone else is resting. For about a half hour I meditate, I go over my blessings, I think about all the pins on Pinterest I’ve saved and create a mental dream home 😉 and if after all of that I’m still awake, I just go on my phone, play games, read, whatever it takes for my eyes to feel tired again. Then I set my phone down (on the floor) in airplane mode and drift back off. If you’re shaking your head no, no, no you can’t go on your phone…let me explain why I do this. If after a half hour I don’t fall back to sleep I start to stress out, I get bored, and then I get tossy turny. And nobody likes to feel tossy turny. Also, I usually have painsomnia. Lying in bed in pain, thinking about the pain, well…it’s not my cup of tea. And lastly am able to sleep-in so it may take 12 hours for me to get seven hours of sleep, but it is what it is. Do what’s best for you, folks. You know your body better than anyone, trust yourselves.
Painsomnia is a patient-generated term for the vicious cycle of pain and sleep deprivation or fatigue related to a chronic condition or its treatment.
That’s about it out of me today. It’s been an emotional day. I found out that my driver’s license will be suspended as it was up for renewal and I’m not physically, or mentally, able to drive anymore, so instead of just switching it over to an ID, CA DMV is suspending it and then making me come back in to get an ID. I don’t have the extra energy to sit at the DMV, but considering there is a pandemic I wouldn’t do it regardless. I was really upset about it until I remembered I have a passport card, and that’ll work just fine for me. Seems though…that CA DMV needs some updating as far as working with accessibility and disabled people. I’ve never had more than a speeding ticket and they are suspending my license. Ridiculous. Ah well. I don’t drive and haven’t been able to for six years. Just kind of a sad day because pre-illness going for a drive on a beautiful day used to be one of my favorite things to do, so it’s yet another goodbye.
A few more doodles and hoping today is a peaceful one for you. 🌼