I’m too late for the mental health tag, but it’s late and I don’t have a story for E formed enough to write it.
Sleep and I have had our differences. I struggle with anxiety and depression so if something has unsettled me I’ll ruminate and stress over it. On top of that, I also have worked night shift for well over a decade. For the most part, I’ve adapted to both my mental health challenges and working nights, but my sleep has definitely suffered.
I’ve gone through period where I’ve survived on 3 hours of sleep. When I was teaching, I had a severe bout of insomnia linked to my depression. I would be awake for hours and contemplated self-harm at many points. I was recently very depressed and would wake up in the middle of night so often I’m not sure how I was functioning. Anxiety is the worst for this. I can obsess about things so badly and frequently it will wake me up at night. 3 am is a dreaded time for me because if I’m up at 3 it may mean I’m not going back to sleep that night.
Insomnia is a really old friend of mine.
I’ll take Benadryl, melatonin, do deep breathing exercises, or just give up and get out of bed. Sometimes, those things work. Usually I have to work through what’s keeping me awake as the only solution. Therapy is really helping that. It’s targeting my long held anxieties so I listen to and calm some of the fear. It’s helped when I do wake up in the middle of the night unable to sleep. I can turn in and hear what the feelings are trying to tell me.
Sleep is a valuable thing though. It’s funny how used to not getting enough of it I am. I’m usually tired at baseline and I live with being that way. When you’re on nights, your body doesn’t care if you’ve worked. It wants to be awake during daylight hours. Then because I do work nights, when I’m off, my body just decides it wants to be up at night too.
I wish I had some trick to overcoming it. It isn’t as bad as it used to be. It’ll crop up for a week, I figure out what’s got my back up, and then I’m over it. I’m sure I’ll see my old friend again in the future whether I want to or not.