The 5 Stages of Insomnia

Last updated: June 2023

I imagine most people think the worst part of insomnia is the endless proverbial seconds, minutes, and hours of a ticking clock. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick...

But for me, the worst part is knowing that tomorrow I will most likely be the worst version of myself for lack of a good night’s sleep. The 5 stages of insomnia taunting me.

5 stages of insomnia

Lying awake, my eyes closed and my brain on, means I am completely aware of the detriment I am doing to myself and my family. My poor family, the people who will have to live with the monster enraged by lack of sleep. But instead of thinking of them, I lie in my usually comfortable bed which has now turned against me, and ruminate through the 5 stages of insomnia.

  1. Denial
  2. I am going to sleep tonight. I know I can. I just need to relax. If I can just find a good position to lie in I’ll drift off to dreamland.

  3. Bargaining
  4. Just let me get 2 more hours of sleep. I promise to change my bedtime routine. I’ll cut all electronics, the phone, laptop, even my Kindle. I’ll stop eating late and give up alcohol completely. I promise I will meditate and take a hot bath before bed every night. Please, just let me go to sleep now.

  5. Anger
  6. I can’t believe I am still awake. Three hours of sleep is a joke. I am human. We were not made to function like this. I should not have to live like this! My family should not have to live with the repercussions of my insomnia.

  7. Depression
  8. I just want to cry. I am so tired of being tired. I cannot continue like this. How can I be expected to live like this? It is not fair. This kind of life is impossible.

  9. Acceptance
  10. I am still not sleeping so I’ll just get up. There is no use lying in bed trying for something that is never going to come. I guess I’ll write.

The aftermath

When I lay down, I can never predict how many hours of sleep I might get that night– 5 hours? 3, 2 maybe? It’s the dealer's choice and my brain is the dealer. Some days we’re in sync, and some days I want to stab myself in the eye.

But nothing compares to the damage I cause the next day. Yelling, snarling, and short-tempered, my family walks around on eggshells trying to avoid my sleepless wrath.

I imagine they have their 5 stages of insomnia too. Only for my husband and kids, I am sure it’s all about dealing with a sleep-deprived monster who has taken the place of their normally loving mommy and wife.

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