What an absolute whirlwind of a term…and a year in fact. On the whole, I think 2018 has been very good to me – I suppose I’ve tried to be good to her also. I am celebrating the completion of second year, and also the much loved return of my circadian rhythms. I think I’ve mentioned this before on this blog, but I have been wrestling with insomnia since I was a kid, and it became more severe in my early teens. After I was diagnosed, I started on a few different sleep medications, some of which are pretty heavy and make me feel gross. They are helpful in the short term, but they’re no permanent fix.
I generally go through periods of normal sleep, and then fairly randomly (often due to stress or a lapse of mental illness, but not always) I will have extreme difficulty in getting myself to sleep.
What keeps me up, you might ask? I couldn’t tell you if I tried… or could I? It has evolved over the years, I might add. I’m much less anxious, self-conscious and self-judgemental than I was as a sleep deprived teenager. An abridged list for you:
- errands: emails to send, groceries to buy, cleaning to do, people to call, meetings to attend, calendars to update, shit to organise
- stress: about conversations, socialisations, that (maybe?) went pear-shaped, arguments etc
- philosophy + politics: climate change, contrasts + similarities of world religions, colonialism, racism, ableism, languages, death, life, purpose, identity, food waste, planned obsolescence, the myth of progress, how progressive Disney Channel’s Andi Mack is
- study: revision I need to do, assessments, exams, tests
- work: self explanatory surely?
- dreams + goals: imma write a musical one day, write a book, perform more solo gigs, release an album of my originals etc etc
- music: sheet music/tabs/songs I need to learn, instruments I need to practice, choral music I need to dig up
- waves of inspiration for: song lyrics, poems, magazine articles, blog posts
- I said abridged, right?
I have noticed more and more as I have gotten older that my insomnia no longer coexists with my depression and anxiety, which I view as a super positive thing. Nowadays, my sleep disturbance is often just that, and I am usually able to maintain a stable mental state and be normal-ish (or as normal as one can be when operating on 0 hours of sleep).
In terms of sleep tips, have literally heard it all:
drink tea, avoid blue light/tech before bed, do exercise, have a regular wake time, keep your room cool, read a book, write a journal, do yoga, avoid caffeine (I don’t drink caffeine), get some fresh air, listen to boring podcasts, count sheep, breathing techniques, magnesium, lavender, have a bath, the list very much goes on…
Often I get this sort of advice from well meaning people, but it gets kind of tiresome sometimes (lol). I have done my research. I take in everything my sleep psych recommends to me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – and that’s okay. I no longer stress about sleep so intensely, because I know the more frantically I reach for her, the more elusive she becomes. Like a lot of things, I’ve learned to trust my body more. I think I’m better at self-managing not just my sleep, but also my diet, my exercise, my study, my work, and my relationships -because I’m better at trusting my gut and listening to that intrinsic knowing that I feel inside myself. That’s not to say I’ve got it perfect, either – I still eat until I feel sick sometimes, I still say something provocative and regret it sometimes, and I still skip the run I had planned to do sometimes. I’m a work in progress – but who isn’t?
I have never ever been one to pull all-nighters, I am far too much of a stress bunny and perpetual planner to ever let that occur, but even being on top of my workload doesn’t prevent me from having disturbed sleep sometimes. I am proud of how far I have come in managing my sleep… wooo! Also, I 100% vouch for cognitive behavioural therapy for sustaining good sleeping habits long term. I hate using sleep meds like zopiclone because they make me feel awful (and they can be bloody addictive), and they have a host of nasty side effects. That said, it’s a godsend in emergencies, and I also find it extremely useful in the short term – I just do not like weening myself off it.
That’s just my opinion though: I think everyone should figure out what best suits them and keep trying things until something works. It’s so important to be hopeful about these sorts of things. Sweet dreams, huma bacha!