Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.
Every tick of the clock means another second spent WIDE AWAKE. Without me noticing, the SUN’S UP! Here I am, UNABLE TO SLEEP.
Another night, another day. THANKS TO INSOMNIA.
But what is INSOMNIA?
It is the difficulty of initiating and/or maintaining sleep, or nonrestorative sleep, associated with impairments of daytime functioning or marked distress for more than 1 month.
Types of insomnia
Insomnia can be classified as transient, acute, or chronic.
- Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress.
- Acute insomnia is the inability to consistently sleep well for a period of less than a month. Insomnia is present when there is difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or when the sleep that is obtained is non-refreshing or of poor quality.( a.k.a short term insomnia)
- Chronic insomnia lasts for longer than a month. It can be caused by another disorder, or it can be a primary disorder. People with high levels of stress hormones or shifts in the levels of cytokines are more likely to have chronic insomnia.
Ok. Clear. I know all these things. I mean, I’ve been dealing with insomnia for quite some time now ( I wasn’t called the Vampire Girl for nothing.)
I first experienced it way back in high school. At first, I wasn’t bothered. I thought ’twas a normal thing for a teen to experience sleepless nights. Then I got into nursing school. Well,we all know how it feels like to be in a nursing school, what it means to be. NURSING = SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, right?
It wasn’t just me who noticed, even the people around me. When we have activities that requires being awake all night such as case presentations, night duty, seminar preps, THEY FEEL SLEEPY or rather the urge to take a nap or keep their eyes closed for a while. They all need something to keep them awake. AND I DON’T! I don’t feel any urge to sleep. Back then, I don’t even need to drink coffee or energy drinks to stay up (which actually is true up to now). Everyone was asking, how do I do it?
At first, I considered it as a BLESSING. Not having the urge to sleep means staying AWAKE. Staying awake means MORE TIME TO STUDY, MORE TIME TO DO SCHOOL WORK (as a nursing student on one of the top performing schools in the country, the competition was stiff, so I needed to keep up.)
It was cool at first. Even if I have spent all night wide awake, I’m still full of energy the following day. No problem, right? (except for the dark circles ’round my eyes, nothing that a good concealer can remedy of course).
And it continued for quite a while. These episodes of sleepless nights…
Until one day it hit me. I WANT TO SLEEP. I NEED TO SLEEP. I MUST SLEEP. But how can I?!
Tell me all ways to fall asleep that you know… I HAD TRIED THEM ALL.
Drink warm milk/hot soup, count sheeps, listen to soft, soothing music, imagery, mental conditioning, read (ummm… boring) and nursing books. NOTHING WORKED! It was so frustrating, wanting to sleep yet not being able to. I felt that something is REALLY WRONG with me.
We all know that SLEEP is indeed IMPORTANT. With sleep comes REST. With rest come RECHARGE. As nurses,we need to RECHARGE after a day’s work in order for us to have the energy for the next day.
Even now that I’m working abroad, INSOMNIA never left me. So I am always working night shifts (7 nights straight). Umm, actually my schedule is 18 days STRAIGHT always (it’s sick right?! I got used to it anyway). I think the God of sleep, Somnus, has an eternal grudge on me coz he always fails to visit me. And when he does, it’s always a short stop just to say “Hi” then BOOM! He’s GONE; I’m AWAKE again. ( Trivia: the longest time that I was able to stay awake was 50 hrs or so).
Nowadays, 3-4 hours of sleep is good for me. I’m just thankful for the times that I get to sleep 8hours STRAIGHT (which is like once every blue moon). So you see, for nurses, SLEEP IS A LUXURY. But for a nurse and an insomniac like me, sleep is only a dream.
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