Wouldn’t it be great to slip off to sleep at 10pm, not waking until 7am? No waking, no need to go pee, no bad dreams or nightmares. I don’t actually remember a time when I have ever been able to do that.
I don’t remember being troubled by dreams and nightmares as a child but I do remember lying awake for hours, every night just waiting for sleep to come. My Dad would occasionally tell me, both as a child and later as an adult, to pray for people while I was waiting to go to sleep. This was the only advice I ever got about how to make sleep come sooner. It didn’t help though. Maybe it helped the people Dad had me diligently praying for, but the task would simply leave me more awake than I started. Dad couldn’t understand that because he told me praying always sent him off to sleep. Remember this is a preacher I’m talking about. It seemed a little odd to me that he would drift off to sleep praying. But years later I realised that he was one of the lucky people who could go to sleep anywhere, anytime. But not me. I hated sleep because I would lie there for hours every night. I don’t think it helped either that I had a bedroom to myself, so had no one to talk to (except my dolls) to pass the time.
Sleep patterns continued much the same through life. Getting to sleep was always a problem regardless of the recommendations of hot milk before bed, visualisations, emptying my bedroom of clocks, the television or radio. Nothing worked and I went through stages of listening to all-night talkback radio (yes, I was desperate!). The problem really came in the mornings when I had to drag myself out of bed for school or work. I remember regularly having to eat cold porridge for breakfast (you really don’t want to try it!) because it took me so long to get up… and then madly running for the bus to school. I hated mornings now as much as I hated nights.When I began to have mental health problems, everything to do with sleep got worse. Even with the aid of sleeping medication I would lie awake for hours getting more and more depressed and despairing. Every night I debate suicide with myself. I became scared of the dark and for years I had to sleep with the light on. Nightmares appeared on the scene to the point that I was scared to stay awake but scared to go to sleep too. Generally my mood would deteriorate as the day went on, so by night time things were pretty bad.
Fastforward to today and I continue to struggle with the sleep part of the day, but the pattern has changed. Fibromyalgia involves extreme fatigue so most of the time what I want most, is to go to sleep Now I have to confess that I regularly have an afternoon nap (no, I’m not 90) although that has its drawbacks. I am so tired and sore that I simply want to curl up in bed and go to sleep, but regularly wake to worse pain. I wake and all my nerves seem to have caught onto an electrical current and are standing on end. There is a rush of a burning sensation through my limbs and often my legs feel like they have been literally burnt to a crisp. If I look at them I can see they are fine, but the feeling is so excruciating that I wish I had never gone to sleep. And this only happens when I wake from sleep during the day. It’s quite bizarre but apparently common with fibro.
At night now days I go to sleep pretty quickly, regardless of whether I have slept during the day, but I can’t stay asleep. I sleep for a couple of hours at the most and then doze the rest of the night. It makes the night pass very slowly, it feels like torture waiting for the clock to tell me it is finally morning. Also with fibro, the quality of sleep is disturbed because we don’t go through the deep sleep stage. It means even if I could sleep for eight hours solid, I wouldn’t wake up refreshed.
But lately I have been having quite a time with dreaming and doing weird stuff in my sleep. It’s getting to the stage where I fear going to sleep at night, not because it’s nasty, traumatic stuff. It’s just plain weird. And I’m not eating thirty-inch pizzas (like Snoopy) before bed either. I have a reputation for both sleep talking and sleep punching the other person I am sleeping with. There appears to be no reason for it and while the talking often wakes me up, I have never woken up when I’ve hit the other person and have no memory doing it. Now I sleep alone. That solves that problem for now but I regularly wake myself up talking.
A few weeks ago I woke up as I was getting out of bed. All I remember is that I needed to get into a large cardboard box at the end of the bed (BTW in reality there was no box at the end of the bed). Don’t ask me why. I have no idea but I was half way out of bed when I woke. Also, I have a very special teddy bear that I sleep with and a few nights ago I woke to find myself trying to pull Ted’s head off. Thankfully I didn’t succeed. I’d be devastated. In my sleep though I know I had to take something out of a cylinder and I was pulling it, but in reality I was doing my best to rip Ted’s head off.
I keep doing these weird things. I wonder what else I do, when I don’t wake myself up in the process. Do I drive to McDonald’s for a shake in the middle of the night? I have no evidence to suggest that and I very much hope not. I have never found myself outside of the house thankfully. One thing I know now is that it is definitely not safe to sleep with me. Future partners be warned!
Am I alone in this? Do you do stuff in your sleep or wake to find yourself doing strange things? As far as I know I did nothing like this as a child, it seems to be something I’ve grown into. I very much hope that for the sake of future relationships (even if it is simply my teddy bear) that I grow out of it too.
“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking,
including thinking about not thinking.”
- Ramblings: Just Let Me Sleep! (charity-lynn.com)
- Sleep- by Adriana Rocha (studentpublicationnetwork.wordpress.com)
- Fibromyalgia and Sleep (fibromyalgiahope.com)