Insomnia has always been an interesting topic for me as a clinician. It can be a symptom of many psychological disorders including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, grief, and problems caused by psychosocial stressors, among others. But my interest in insomnia is not limited to my experiences as a professional. As an individual, insomnia has affected my life periodically over many decades. Beginning in my late teens, I experienced the gamut of insomnia symptoms for most of my senior year of high school. Sometimes I wondered if I would ever be able to peacefully drift off to sleep without difficulty ever again. It was exhausting mentally as well as physically.
At 17 years of age, I shared a room with my younger sister, Donna. Needing to get up for school at 6 AM, we went to bed around 9:30 or 10 PM most nights. Donna fell asleep almost instantly once the lights were out. That is when my nightly frustration would set in with a vengeance. As soon as Donna fell asleep, I could hear her every breath. She was not snoring, but I could hear her breathing and it drove me crazy! I would lie awake staring at the ceiling, jealous that my sister could just relax and go to sleep while I laid there getting angrier and angrier.
I would check my clock at least once an hour, doing the mental arithmetic that would make me think, If I fall asleep right now I can still get 6 hours of sleep….then a bit later I’d think, I can still get 5 hours of sleep, later still I’d think, Maybe I can at least get 4 hours of sleep…etc. All the while I would wonder how I was going to get through the following day, knowing the effort it would take me to stay awake during class.
My father would leave for work very early in the morning. I could hear him get up at 3:45 AM. About 30 minutes later I would hear the garage door go up and I’d hear his car start. Then he would back his car out down the driveway and his headlights would shine in my window. That would be when I’d fall asleep because I could never remember anything after that until my alarm went off at 6 AM. Interestingly, I didn’t have the same difficulty on Friday or Saturday nights. I would go to bed much, much later and didn’t have to be up early in the morning. I suppose the pressure was off to fall asleep and it allowed me to relax so I could easily fall drift off.
Without going into detail about the different times I’ve battled insomnia, suffice it to say that each bout was characterized by anger, frustration, anxiety and loneliness as I lay there listening to my roommates or my husband sleeping like babies.
I tried sleeping pills, alcohol, and natural remedies to help me sleep but nothing worked in the long run. Besides, everything I tried had side effects that left me exhausted the next day.
In the process of becoming a Behavioral Sleep Medicine Therapist, so many of my old questions about my own sleeping problems were finally answered. Now I get to help others get consistently longer and more restful sleep without the relentless problem of chronic insomnia. It is wonderful to help my patients finally get the sleep they need. The results we’re able to achieve are lasting and life-changing.
While I would never want to repeat my personal experiences with insomnia, I am glad that I’m able to provide my patients with genuine understanding of what living with insomnia is like. And happily for me, helping them make progress and ultimately become good sleepers makes my own experiences worthwhile! I encourage you to take charge of your sleep.
Call Inland Insomnia Therapy and get started on the road to better sleep and freedom from insomnia!