LilSebastian | 5:20

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"How am I gonna function? What's gonna happen? How I'm gonna pass the test I have tomorrow?"

Insomnia Ambien Sleep Hygiene Anxiety Tiredness

Story Transcript

So I guess my story is I was always my whole life, a pretty good sleeper, I have never had any problems falling asleep, never had problems staying sleep, slept the whole night through, etcetera. And then, sometime in my sophomore year of college, one time I drank a giant bubble tea, like right before we went to bed, without thinking about it and because of all the caffeine, I ended up staying up all night long, just tossing and turning. And for some reason in my head that just clicked, and turned on this insomnia part of my brain. Where I just was like oh, it's possible to just stay awake all night and just toss and turn and want to fall asleep so badly and not be able to. And so for the next six months, every couple nights, maybe every couple weeks, I would be awake until 4, 5, 6, 7 in the morning, just tossing and turning. Getting up out of bed, going for a walk, getting back in bed. And it was literally, like torture, because your bed is like a prison to you, all you want to do is fall asleep so badly, you're so tired and yet you just can't. And so, first, I went to doctors who gave kind of the typical medicines they would give you–Ambien and things like that–and even though,they kind of helped me sleep, they made me feel really groggy the next day and I'm like, this is not a solution. This is not working. And so I think over time, eventually a couple things happened that helped me be able to get to sleep and just basically, solve my... what became eventually, like, a year-plus of insomnia. And a couple of things were... one of them was that I kind of changed my relationship with sleep. So I stopped thinking, I realize that it's okay to be tired, because part of my issue around sleeping morphed into this anxiety around sleeping. What if I can't fall asleep tonight? What if tonight is one of those nights? Okay, If don't fall asleep in the next hour, then I'll only get eight hours. Okay, now I get only six. Now, I get only five. Now I get only four and so on. How am I gonna function? What's gonna happen? Am I'm gonna pass the test I have tomorrow? All these worries are really just about sleeping and getting enough sleep. And I think I had to realize it's okay to be tired. You'll live. It's fine and kind of letting go of that was helpful.

But then I think there are some concrete things that I also learned to do that were really helpful. They mostly centered around this idea called sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is training your brain to understand that your bed is for sleeping by having good hygiene practices, basically. And so the things that go with good sleep hygiene is, never doing anything in your bed except for sleeping for the most part. So, no watching TV in bed, no reading in bed, no doing homework in bed, all the things that I used to do like, just lay in my bed and relax, and do work, or read, or whatever, watch TV... I stopped doing. The other is that if you are lying in bed and you're not falling asleep for about 5, 10, 15 minutes, you have to get up out of bed–physically out of bed–which often for me in my small college dorm room meant sitting on the floor, next to my bed and read something boring or do something boring until you feel tired again, and you get back in bed. If you don't fall asleep then, rinse and repeat. So, there were nights when I would be getting out of my bed, which was like torture, because I'd have to sit on my floor, read my book, do whatever, get back in bed again, until you eventually fall asleep. The idea is that you don't want your bed to become somewhere where you toss and turn, or where you lie awake or where you do stimulating things and not sleeping.

The other is really waiting to make sure to go to bed until you're tired and kind of listening to your body, what your body needs and not forcing yourself to go to sleep, when you're not ready. And then some other things that can help with relaxation, stress management, meditation things like that. But I think that in the end, the fixes are kind of pretty every day straightforward things, which was really surprising to me because the initial problems felt so bad. Anyone who probably has ever had insomnia realizes that it becomes a torture and it can, consume your quality of life. And for me it was really just like, changing the way I approach sleep. I mean, really concrete, really specific ways, that helped me sleep way better, worry less about sleep and in the end, get better sleep. I probably haven't had an episode of insomnia for maybe a year and a half, it does happen once in a while...but when it happens, it happens and yeah, that's my story.