The Late Night Zombie Diary: How I Cope with Chronic-Idiopathic Insomnia

chronic insomnia

Ever since I could recall, I was always struggling with falling into sleep, most of the time I have to force myself to sleep, it never worked though. I don’t recall when it exactly started but then I barely remembered anything before I was 6 six years old, before our house burnt down. I used to sleep together with my parents and siblings until I reached 9 years old, when I finally got my own room. When we were still sleeping in 1 room, I always lay wide awake every night and let my imagination ran wild since I cannot really move a lot. And when I got my own room, I would toss and turn to no avail until one day I decided to just use those spare times reading novels. I surely spent more time reading than sleeping because I can finish a novel for an average of 2 nights.

During those years, I always try to pretend to be asleep whenever my mother would enter my room, which is every middle of the night. She started doing it after she took noticed that I’m still wide awake even at 2-3 am. I really can’t blame her for scolding me, I mean, I’m a kid that barely sleeps. I usually sleep between around 3-4 am then is forced to wake up at 6 am to take a bath and prepare for school. The worst case is when I get my shot-eye at 6 am, when it happens I only have 30 minutes of sleep until I really need to wake up and hurry up, or beyond that. Nobody in my family really understood why I can’t fall asleep on time especially since my mother always make sure that we start going to bed at 9 am when I was still in kindergarten, and maybe even before that. But most of all, aside from me, none of them have trouble falling asleep. They could fall into a deep slumber if they want and when its bedtime already.

As a kid, I was always wondering where the teachers (or at least the textbooks) got the idea of 8 hours as the sufficient period of sleep because I never experienced those except on Saturdays (the only time we’re allowed to sleep until 11 am). I also never knew of the word insomnia then, school never did teach us about it. But most of all, I thought my case was nothing, just a case of someone who wants to sleep late, because none of my peers and classmates ever talked about such a problem except when they slept in late (meaning after 10pm and before 12 midnight) one night because of a tv program, which is by the way their own choice. So my ignorance pretty much lasted all throughout my childhood years until my mid teens.

Unlike for others, lack of sleep was really nothing peculiar for me. What’s odd was when I could fall to sleep early, which only happened for a week. That was the week before our intramural in my freshman year. I guess it was due to exhaustion from daily practice. After that week though, everything went back to normal, my bedtime was back to 2 am.

I can’t recall when I first heard of the word insomnia but I do recall that during my mid high school days it was used by everyone whenever they can’t sleep on time at night. No matter if its one night or more within a week. However, nobody ever complaint about having it way back childhood. Since I don’t really know that I have some sort of illness, I also started calling my situation as insomnia. What everyone didn’t know was that I suffered from it every night. Funny that I never tried looking it up in the dictionary ever since then.

A Way to Treating My Insomnia on My Own

I never really thought of finding a cure back then because, as I pointed out, I didn’t think I’m sick or something like that. Everything continued on until my junior (or maybe senior) year in high school when I chanced upon an old newspaper article about insomnia. You see, during my mid year in high school I started to like reading about general knowledge (not my lessons though) so I have this scrap book of sorts with newspaper clips of any general knowledge article that fascinated me. I can’t remember what the title of that article was anymore but it has the word insomnia and to-do in it. At first I just read it out of curiosity. Then after rereading it for about 3 times I decided to try it out since majority of the to-do list were really easy (read more on Sleep Disorder: When Insomnia Strikes!).

The first night was not totally successful because I have to discover some things such as my best sleeping position, emptying my mind, and such. I can’t recall clearly what happened thereafter. However, I do remember that it took many months (maybe even years for all I know) of continually following that list before I realized that I can already fall asleep on my own. I still can’t sleep early (my usual time is not earlier than 11 am) and I still don’t get 8 hours of sleep but at least I can fall asleep. Although I can say I’m pretty much cured there are still times when I lay awake until early dawn but its not much of a struggle now than before because I already know what to do.

Insomnia Strikes Again

After more than 8 years of normal sleep I am faced again by this problem and this time its not just problem with falling asleep but also staying asleep. I can’t really conclude what triggered it but I have a hint that it was triggered by the food supplement that I took.

Sometime around last week, I started intaking these 2 food supplements that has something to do with cell repair. Now, before I took it my friends and peers already started intaking it weeks before I did. The result was different for everyone but nothing bad, it were actually good results. I was told that in order for the supplement to take effect, I need to take it for at least 3 days (that’s 1 tablet per day for each supplement). It was not my first time to take such food supplement so I didn’t think much about it. Here’s what happened:

  • Day 1 AM: consumed the supplements
  • Day 1 PM: normal sleep
  • Day 2 AM: consumed the supplements
  • Day 2 PM: normal sleep
  • Day 3 AM: consumed the supplements
  • Day 3 PM: normal sleep
  • Day 4 AM: wasn’t able to take the supplements
  • Day 4 PM: wide awake
  • Day 5 AM: fell asleep at 7 am and again wasn’t able to take the supplements
  • Day 5 PM: wide awake
  • Day 6 AM: consumed the supplements just in case it might help and fell asleep at 9 am
  • Day 6 PM: fell asleep at 10 pm and woke up at 11:50 pm. Never got back to sleep.
  • Day 7 AM: stopped taking the supplements
  • Day 7 PM: wide awake
  • Day 8 AM –  present time: I either fall asleep early at night and wakes up before midnight or I sleep the next day for about 3 hours max.

Before all these happened, I never knew that there are some medicines that might trigger insomnia (read more on Sleep Disorder: When Insomnia Strikes!). Right now, I’m training my body again to follow a sleep pattern. Its harder this time around though. I don’t know if its because it became immune to what I usually do before or I just need to continue on until such time that I get used to it again.

Sleeping Pills and Me

sleeping pills

You might be wondering if I ever tried to turn to sleeping pills for a solution. Well I did, just January of this year. It was a desperate solution on my part because I was mentally and physically tired for almost a week of improper rest after I came from a long and tiring trip. Apparently, that trip somehow triggered my insomnia.

I just felt so worn-out that I just wanted at least 1-2 nights of good sleep. I bought 3 sleeping pills at the pharmacy. When I went home, I took a bath and brushed my teeth. It wasn’t even 8 pm but I prepared my bed already and then consumed 1 pill first. After 1 hour of unsuccessful result, I took another one. Now, I was cautious about this because I do know that too much may result to overdose. But even after 2 pills nothing happened. I was not sleepy despite lying down and closing my eyes. So after almost 3 hours of complete failure I decided to just stay up and wait until sleep claims my body.

I still slept late into the dawn and woke up when my alarm set off at 7 am. Though I did not get the sleep that I want, my body seems, surprisingly, well rested. I don’t know if that was what the effect should be but I did know one thing then, sleeping pills doesn’t always work or maybe I needed something more potent.

Seeking Help

As much as it might seem easier if I just go to a doctor for consultation, I am also reluctant with undergoing through any check-up because of a past experience (maybe I’ll share that someday). Anyways, another reason I don’t want to go to a doctor is because I did get myself treated without their help before and besides, this is just nothing compared to those years of insomnia.

Instead of seeking a professional help, I opted to turn to the all-knowing internet for a solution.

Nice to Meet You, Idiopathic Insomnia

I already suspected that I had a chronic case of insomnia but what I didn’t know was the word idiopathic insomnia. For the first time in my life, I came across something that helps me understand more what happened to me or at least what I went through.

Idiopathic insomnia, or child onset insomnia, is a chronic insomnia case, whether mild, moderate or severe, that could be traced back from the time of birth to childhood stage. However, there is no known cause for this thus, it has no known medical cure as well.

After reading the article Idiopathic Insomnia — What Does It Mean and How Can You Deal With It? I realized five things things:

  1. I have the same case. As far as I know, I’d been an insomniac for more than half of my life, a greater portion spent during my childhood years.
  2. Though no recorded medical cure, there is a way to treat it, as the author said. Its just not easy and would require self-experiment.
  3. There’s not much point in consulting a doctor for now because they can’t help me much either and I can’t help them too. I mean, in consultation they ask various things which I’m pretty sure I can’t give them an exact account since even I myself cannot recall when my insomnia exactly started and much more, how it started.
  4. I’m on my own. Nobody can help me get into sleeping unless I approach a professional and even then its all up to me whether to take their advice or not.
  5. I’m not depressed about my so-called disorder, I’m just not looking forward to experiencing it again.

How I Cope with Insomnia Through the Years

Well, if asked how I feel about my disorder, I’ll tell you straight out that it has its pros and cons like any other. For my case, its not something that I could take for granted all the time and its also not something that I wish to dwell on but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that I still live a normal life. I look far from being sick and I also look far from being mentally unstable. Physically, I do what everyone can and at times had more energy than others.

Though I may not show signs of fatigue it doesn’t mean that insomnia has not taken its toll on me. Even though nothing is really wrong with me, I do recognize my worsening memory weakness. They say that when you get older your memory gets weaker. True but in my case, I’d already noticed this during my childhood stage and it had not become any better through the years. Somehow, my brain recognized it or something because it only retains whatever it needs then dumps away when its done with it. Sometimes I even forget important staff and worst is when I forget whatever happened just a few minutes ago. Its like I have a selective memory. I really can’t conclude that this was all due to insomnia but I know that insomnia did play its part on this. As absurd as it may sound, I can like literally feel my brain slowly draining.

Nevertheless, I don’t really think much of it more than necessary. I believe that its enough that I accepted it, recognized that its curable somehow, and well, it does miss me at times so it visits me every now and then. Not a big issue, right? That’s how it should be.

sleeping

DUMB and GENIUS hopes you enjoyed your time here ^-^

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