I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping over the years. Starting at the age of about 15, I’ve had on again off again severe insomnia, coupled with just a general inability to sleep all that well. I recently, finally, after years and years of talking to different doctors, was sent to a sleep clinic to see what’s up, and to try to find out if there was anything that could be fixed. At the sleep clinic, they hook you up to a bagiliion little sensors, and monitor every little thing to try to find out what’s wrong. In the morning, when the tech came in, all she said was “so restless.” “Yes,” I thought, “my sleep WAS so restless. It’s ALWAYS so restless. That’s why I’m here.” And this statement gave me comfort, because I thought if they could plainly see how restlessly I was sleeping, that there must be some thing that we could work on together. I thought wrong.
Today I went for my results, and they came back normal. Breathing – normal; heart rate – normal; brain waves – normal. Normal. Normal. But there is one thing that is still not normal. My sleep. I probably average 6 hours of very broken sleep a night. For about the past 18 years.
So when I got back these results that nothing is wrong, I just started to cry. It probably doesn’t help that I am actually really sick right now, so I just didn’t really have the capacity to keep all of my emotions about this diagnosis inside myself today.
I walked through my sleep habits with the sleep specialist, skimming my life for any other clues as to the reasons why I often have such fitful sleep. I get enough physical activity, I have a somewhat regular sleep routine, I don’t drink coffee after 3, I don’t drink alcohol that frequently on weeknights; blah blah blah blah. I’ve been through these lists so many times before. So the only thing that we came up with is that it’s probably related to my anxiety, which is not really what I was hoping to hear. I mean, I knew that it was HEAVILY affected by anxiety, but to discover that this is likely the only cause feels so incredibly defeating. Because I am working so hard to get that aspect of my life under control, but my sleep is currently just not getting any better. And the two feed each other in this marvellous dance of non-sleep.
ANYWAYS. So I’m seeing my GP about sleeping meds, and cutting back MORE on computer time pre-bed, and cutting out most alcohol, and maybe getting some blackout curtains, and continuing to work on anxiety, and we’ll see how it goes.
The specialist reassured me that at least I don’t have really severe sleep apnea, and yes, that is something that I am very grateful for, but at the same time, this diagnosis of ‘normal’ has not brought me any closer to finding sleep.