Insomnia & Other Chronic Conditions

I’ve had insomnia since I can remember. I love to sleep, but it takes me forever to fall asleep and I wake up at least once a night usually for an hour or more. I’ve struggled so much with my sleep because it directly affects my health—my back, anxiety, migraines, etc. Everything is worse when I don’t sleep and it makes it more likely I’ll have flare-ups.

Insomnia & Other Chronic Conditions

And it works in reverse too. My chronic conditions can make sleep that much more elusive. Anxiety in the early morning makes it impossible to fall back asleep. Back pain can keep me up or wake me up. Lately, night sweats have woken me up shivering. I have to change clothes, blankets, etc. and then try to calm down my sore muscles that worked overtime to keep me warm despite being cold and wet. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on with that—which of course is not an insignificant source of anxiety interrupting my peace of mind and sleep as well!

So, I’ve tried so much to sleep better. I’ve tried going to bed late, going to bed early, not napping during the day, exercising, anxiety meds, melatonin, an essential oil diffuser and many different scents, a heating pad, and the list goes on. In fact, in an act of faith and hope, I have my first weighted blanket coming on Tuesday. I just can’t give up. I try not to buy just anything out there that promises it will help you sleep, but every so often I cave.

Last night was a bad night. I couldn’t fall asleep despite feeling exhausted. I tried to fall asleep for hours. Nothing. I finally fell asleep only to wake up a couple of hours later around dawn. I do not understand how I can be so exhausted but so not sleepy. I want to sleep, my whole body wants to sleep, but my mind won’t shut down.

The only time I have ever really found it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep was in college when I was chronically sleep-deprived and slept in short bursts (often not on purpose). I could fall asleep any time of day.

This not a pattern I want to return to. I’ve tried to improve my sleep hygiene, prioritize rest, and be a fully functioning adult. Nights like last night feel like a setback. And they happen more than I would like. My regular answer to “How did you sleep?” is “Not great.” Or if I say something like, “I slept poorly last night,” it comes as a surprise to no one. It’s another chronic condition that doesn’t really seem to respond to the work I do to improve it.

I’m tired of being tired. And I’m tired of being told that I could sleep better if I only did X, Y, or Z. I don’t like feeling that it’s my fault because I took a nap that day and therefore messed up my sleep schedule or anything else.

My circadian rhythm just seems permanently off. I fall asleep better in the daytime. I often feel tired all day only to lie awake much of the night. I’ve tried changing it using some of the methods mentioned above. The only time I’m on the right schedule is when I’m jetlagged and am able to go to bed at 9 pm for a few glorious nights until I adjust to local time.

Something as simple and basic seems like it shouldn’t be that hard. But I know I’m not the only one out there. And it’s definitely aggravated by and aggravating for those with chronic conditions. Sleep is often sold as a panacea for everything—if we only could sleep eight hours straight, we wouldn’t have X condition or feel Y. Yet, how to get that sleep?

Here’s hoping maybe that weighted blanket will fulfill its promise and help me rest better and with fewer interruptions. Who knows? Maybe this will help. I keep trying because that’s all I can think to do.

Insomnia & Other Chronic Conditions

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

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