I have always been what many people would describe as a “night owl.” I often enjoyed staying up into the early hours of the morning and found, during my first few months of college, that I could get by fairly well on just a couple hours of sleep. It was not until my second year of college that I began to suspect that my “night owl” tendencies were a sign of a greater issue. I realize that, even on nights when I would try to get the recommended eight hours of sleep, I would have a hard time falling asleep. Actually, that would be an understatement; most nights, it was nearly impossible for me to get to sleep.
At first, I thought it was the result of stress. After all, my college classes were quite demanding and I had a lot on my plate. I constantly felt wired, as though I could not simply “shut off” my mind and its thoughts. Even when I was able to finally fall asleep after hours of lying in my bed awake, I would often wake up several times in the middle of the night. Even on the nights when I would sleep for several hours without awakening, I would get up in the morning feeling worse than I would have had I just stayed up the entire night.
When my inability to sleep began to negatively affect my academics and personal relationships, I decided that it was time to seek medical attention. Specifically, this time came when I received a failing grade on a major exam and attributed it to lack of sleep the night before. My friends had also grown frustrated with my irritability caused by lack of sleep and were beginning to hang out with me less.
When I first did a search engine inquiry for sleep disorders, I matched my symptoms up with others. Based on what I had read, I self-diagnosed myself without insomnia. Still, I knew that I needed to seek professional help from a doctor in order to be officially diagnosed and to begin getting the help that I needed. Sure enough, my diagnosis was confirmed by my doctor just a few weeks later. I had chronic insomnia, which is insomnia that lasts for a period longer than a month. Apparently, I had been living with mine for years.
My doctor determined that the most likely cause of my chronic insomnia was stress. Therefore, we decided that it would be best to reduce my course load at school from full time to part time status. Instead of taking five classes and having a part time job on weekends, I was doing two classes per semester and cut off the job completely. I also begin to try out some of the stress relief tips that my doctor had suggested, such as meditating and even drinking teas that are meant to relax the body. I even found that lighting aromatherapy candles in my dorm room when I got home from school or work at night helped me feel a lot more relaxed. Meditation has been really useful to me. Some time, I found meditating is as good as sleep and can increase my memory, reduce stress just like a good sleep can do.
Overall, I am still fighting insomnia and my life is far from normal because of it, but taking the necessary steps to cut stress out from my life have helped me to sleep a lot easier. I would recommend that anybody suffering from lack of sleep to the point that it is affecting one’s life seek help from a doctor as well.