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What Insomnia Due to Chronic Pain Feels Like

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From staying up all night as a teenager chatting with friends, pulling all-nighters trying to cram for an exam, to pounding caffeine to make it through an unexpected night shift at work, I am definitely not a stranger to late nights. There was peace in the dark. A calmness before the next day. The slate was being wiped clean from the trials of the previous day to allow for a new start, if only for just one day.

However, there is a difference between staying awake out of necessity and staying awake because you absolutely cannot fall asleep. Chronic illness is no joke. I wish there was a manual on survival.

The pain can keep you from getting comfortable. You try different positions. There are pillows tucked under you 10 different ways trying to alleviate pressure (but that’s impossible when your whole body feels like it’s on fire, being electrocuted, being pumped too tightly in a full-body blood pressure cuff, and having your insides carved out like a pumpkin, all at the same time). You’re waiting for the night meds to kick in that are supposed to help you sleep (that’s the side effect I’d love to get, but I’m still waiting).

Toss. Turn. You manage to find some sort of sweet, dreamless relief only to be jarringly awakened by the shrill alarm that squashes any chance at a shred of a decent night’s sleep. So you’re exhausted, on the edge of a mental breakdown on the daily, and still in pain.

Repeat that forever.

Sleep well. Or try to. Or don’t. You do you. I’m still trying.

Getty image by Tero Vesalainen.

Originally published: January 20, 2020
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