Hello my sleepy friend, I’m Sacha.
I was a good sleeper for most of my life. The occasional sleepless night would happen when I was particularly excited or particularly stressed. I would have too much energy to sleep, but my sleep patterns would return to normal the following night. Then 2012 happened.
There were a series of stressful events – job loss, the resulting financial difficulties, having to move from a city I loved to find work, and relationship strain – that piled on and felt like it would never get better.
At first, it would take me hours to fall asleep but I would still get a few good nights of sleep in a week. Then it progressed to only 1 or 2 nights of good sleep. Then there came the nights where I wouldn’t sleep at all. Other nights, I would wake up after only a few hours and not be able to get back to sleep.
Month after month, which became year after year, I had nights that ranged from 0 to 6 hours of sleep. Sometimes those 6 hours would happen erratically when I would leave work early so I could collapse from exhaustion midday for a few hours, and sleep a couple more at night.
The stressful external situations finally resolved. The money came, my relationship got better, and I’d accepted having to leave my old city. While I knew logically that my life situation changed for the better, my old sleeping patterns didn’t return.
I still couldn’t sleep and felt depressed and anxious. There were points where I felt suicidal, even. Depression and anxiety caused chronic insomnia, and now chronic insomnia was causing depression and anxiety. You know as well as I do, trying to be optimistic that I would eventually sleep on little to no sleep felt like a losing battle.
Those four years were a long and painful journey. But I am here to tell you that I now sleep well again. Most nights, I sleep 7 or more hours and wake up feeling alert and rested. I might have a night every month or two where I sleep 5 or 6 hours and feel groggy for most of the day, but it doesn’t throw me off like it used to.
You can do this too. Like anyone trying to solve ingrained thought and behavioural patterns, it will take some time and effort on your part. It may also take a few tries. Just remember, barring any medical issues, you CAN sleep and you WILL sleep. There is life beyond chronic insomnia.
I want to share with you all the tools that I have explored during my years with chronic insomnia. I still use many of these today as part of my sleep habits to help my mind and body prepare for sleep. I hope it’ll help you too.
My deepest empathy, support, and well wishes in your insomnia journey,