Insomnia Isn’t Just Having a Hard Time Falling Asleep

Insomnia comes in many forms: not being able to fall asleep, waking up multiple times a night, comorbid insomnia (a type that exists with another condition such as anxiety) and, of course, acute and chronic types.

While all forms of insomnia can be extremely hard to deal with, I want people to know what it’s like to have it for an extended period of time. This draining condition can steal so much from people’s lives

Here are a few things insomnia can do. (Please keep in mind that people with acute insomnia deal with many of the same symptoms — just for a shorter period of time.)

1. Difficulty falling asleep.

I can be exhausted, not able to move, just want to sleep for a week and still not be able to actually sleep. I can feel the burning in my eyes and the heaviness in my eyelids and still lie there unable to actually go into so much as the second stage of sleep. I’m stuck in the first stage, which isn’t actually sleep but the beginning of the brain slowing down. This can produce hallucinations and myoclonic jerks (ever had an arm or leg suddenly twitch as you were falling asleep?)

I’m stuck in this stage for hours — sometimes until 5 a.m. Hallucinations can be one of the scariest experiences of your life when you think you hear someone walking around your home when no one is there or everyone is asleep.

2. Difficulty staying asleep.

Once I fall asleep, I wake up many times throughout the night. I’ve counted as many as 10 times. Time magazine reported a night of interrupted sleep can be worse than abbreviated sleep.

This, along with not being able to fall asleep in the first place, can cause me to be in bed until 2 p.m. or even later some days. I’ve lost hours being in the daytime because of this, and when I have to get up earlier than when my body wants to, I end up in extreme fatigue and pain.

A lack of sleep can also cause flares because of my fibromyalgia. It also makes it hard for me to concentrate on tasks or reading and causes moodiness and irritability, which affects my relationships with my family.

My depression also gets worse, and it causes breakdowns and feelings of loneliness. I can’t socialize because of it. I can’t go out and can’t keep appointments because even when I intend to keep them, I don’t hear my alarm once I’ve finally gone to sleep or have to cancel because I only got one hour of sleep the night before.

Insomnia has stolen much of my life from me. I struggle to do anything social, and when I do, I can’t enjoy it because I’m so tired and in so much pain. Without my sleep medicine, I have no life at all. And when I get sick and have to stop taking it for a while, all of these symptoms come back with a force.

It’s truly debilitating, and I hope this helps a few people understand that insomnia isn’t just “having a hard time falling asleep.”  

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