iInsomnia. Who hasn't had a few sleepless nights here and there?
Basically insomnia is just not sleeping. Not because you WANT to stay awake, but because you simply cannot sleep, no matter how badly you want to.
For some people, insomnia is a very rare experience, usually during a time of stress. Other folks are brand new to the torture of long and sleepless nights. And for others of us? It's a lifetime experience. For me, it's now 70 years of being, what one of my childhood doctors used to call, a "bad sleeper". Bad Sleeper! Shame on you!
As I get older, I'm noticing more and more people complaining about Insomnia. Most of these people are somewhere in the range of Tim's and/or my age so I was curious if this is just one more delight in the aging process. Turns out that it is. Yup. Dang. We just cannot catch a break. (more on this below)
Actually, as I researched, insomnia covers a wide range of sleep disorders. There was even a little questionnaire: 1) Do you have difficulty falling asleep? 2) Do you fall asleep easily and then wake up during the night, unable to fall back to sleep? 3) Do you wake much earlier than you would like and therefore get fewer hours of sleep than you need? 4) Do you have nights of little to no sleep at all?
By the way, my answer to all of these questions is a resounding Yes. I am a walking sleep disorder apparently. Or perhaps I am all of them?
Regardless, the causes suggested for all of these types of insomnia are legion. There are loads of reasons why people do not sleep. Stress and Anxiety of course, as expected are at the top. Everyone has times of stress and anxiety throughout their lives and probably have sleep difficulties because of it. My assumption, though to be fair I didn't look any further into this idea, is that probably people who are always stressed and anxious, always have difficulty sleeping. Makes sense to me.
Another reason that some people do not sleep well is side effects of medications. Interesting, interesting. A subset of this reason was caffeine, recreational drug and alcohol intake. Not really medications but there it was.
Apparently, weight can be an instigator in the sleeping wars too. I get the connection if a person's size has also caused sleep apnea but otherwise, I really do not see the correlation.
Folks who have chronic pain - also logical but sad struggle with insomnia. AND too much exposure to "bluelight" meaning tablets, phones and television can disrupt sleep patterns too.
And then there is the worst, the one thing that I cannot do a dang thing about for me or anybody else, Aging. What? Apparently, as we age, our own natural circadian rhythms get disrupted and therefore, we have difficulty sleeping. What kind of crap reason is this? It's not bad enough that we have wrinkles, grey hair, arthritis and occasional bouts of can't-recall-itis, now our bodies are sabotaging our own sleep?
Well that just stinks on ice. Experts still recommend between 6 and 9 hours of sleep a night. HAH! That's hilarious.
Sleep is important. So important in fact, that, according to my research, going without sleep, leads to cognitive impairment, irritability, delusions and even hallucinations! Ask any parent of a newborn. They already know this. But did you know a mere 24 hours with no sleep is equivalent to having a .10 blood alcohol level - which would of course be above the legal limit to drive. Yikes!
36 hours without sleep can cause:
After 48 hours of no sleep, the body's immune system becomes compromised on top of everything else so now insomnia becomes potentially a health risk.
If your insomnia becomes a chronic condition other problems can rear their ugly heads:
The articles I read, over and over again, stated the importance of getting a good nights sleep. Well, and I think I speak on behalf of all of us, I would love to. On the rare night when I sleep soundly for an entire 6-8 hours, I wake feeling brand new, energetic and happyhappyhappy. If I could do that every single night I would be overjoyed.
But the fact of the matter is, I can't. No matter how much I wish I slept through the night, every night, I don't, I wish I could. I have tried adjusting my diet (as suggested), my exercise routine, cutting myself off from all 'bluelights' and every sort of relaxation methodology known to humankind. Not one single bit of it works. I've even tried Melatonin with absolutely no improvement. My thought is that I've lived an entire lifetime of poor sleep. If that's just how it's going to be for the rest of my life, well, at least I have had plenty of practice.
And, honestly, if I'm not sleeping anyway, I may as well use that time to catch up on my reading or heck, blue lights be damned, watching TV. If I'm already not sleeping, a little more blue light exposure isn't going to make any difference. And in the middle of the night is when the old TV shows are rerun: Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favourite Martian, Dobie Gillis, Starsky and Hutch, Mannix, Barney Miller, the X-Files, The Pretender, Quantum Leap, oh yeah, the list goes on and on.
Some of those older shows actually hold up pretty well and are still very entertaining. Other's, not so much. I love seeing the old cars, decor, fashion and even the way people talked! When was the last time you heard anyone call someone else a Turkey? heehee.
I've gotten to see some of my favourite old movies, too. Classics like "Casablanca" and "12 Angry Men" and "Some Like it Hot". Newer (but still considered old now) movies such as "Stargate" and "Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller" and "Dead Poet's Society" are still really good films. Now and again, I click on a movie I've never even heard of before. Usually they are terrible but occasionally I'm surprised at how really good they are.
I have no idea what the answer is, but it was kind of comforting to know that I am now of an age where most people have difficulty sleeping. It's not just me, anymore. I am in good company.
Everything I've read suggests strongly that a person with insomnia should really discuss it with their doctor. With absolutely no animosity to any physician that I've ever actually talked to about my insomnia, they didn't have anything helpful to say. Oh well. I guess it just is what it is.
And if you are one of the zillions of people who battles, even occasionally with insomnia, I feel for ya. I really do. It probably doesn't help at all, but please know that if you are awake in the night, I most likely am too.
Wishing you good sleep and sweet dreams this weekend!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.