I don’t like sleeping. There, I said it. (Don’t ask what time I wrote this post, please). I understand the benefits of a good night’s sleep; in fact, I even get a good night’s sleep once in a while. But overall, I’m not good at it. Falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up – the whole process doesn’t work for me. In addition to living with depression and anxiety, I also deal with insomnia on a pretty regular basis – and if you don’t think those things are connected, do I have a post for you!
Insomnia is a common sleeping disorder where someone has trouble sleeping in a number of ways. These include trouble falling asleep, inability to sleep through the night, waking up earlier than usual or feeling sleepy during the daytime (among other symptoms). According to the American Sleep Association, short-term issues with insomnia are reported by about 30% of adults and chronic insomnia by 10% of adults. Statistics about insomnia are wide-ranging, but one commonality is that insomnia is a disorder that millions of people deal with daily.
I don’t like to say I have insomnia. I’ve grown comfortable sharing my experiences with mental health disorders, but I’m much less comfortable talking about my relationship with sleep. There are plenty of reasons for this, but the biggest one to me is that I get embarrassed. Not that I have trouble sleeping – plenty of people share in that experience – but the reasons why.
When you research sleeping disorders, there’s a clear link between mental health disorders and insomnia. In many cases, depression can lead to insomnia. People of all ages who deal with insomnia can also be at higher risk of developing depression. Logically, it makes sense – the phrase “sleeping with a clear head at night” comes to mind – but those connections are part of what makes my mind race at night.
It took a long time to admit that most aspects of my life were connected to my mental health issues. I finally came to the conclusion that mental health can affect every area of a person’s life, which has helped me build a mentally healthier lifestyle. But when bedtime rolls around, I ignore that connection. I chalk up my insomnia to acute stress or that I’d practiced bad habits during the day, without admitting my mental illness could be making it difficult to sleep all on its own. It wasn’t so much shame as it was willful ignorance, but the root of it was that I was nervous to admit that there was yet another area of life that I feel like a failure.
Oftentimes when I write about my experiences living with mental illness, I try to also point to advice and techniques about living a mentally healthier lifestyle. And though there are many tips on how to sleep well with mental health disorders (even from this very blog), it’s important to share that sometimes we just deal with things that suck. Insomnia is one of those things. I have some answers, but it continues to be something I struggle with. And I hope more people can admit it.