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Accidentally Up All Night

What happens when you follow your regular sleep routine, climb into bed... and proceed to never fall asleep?

Any normal person might ask “how is that even possible.'' These comments also usually come from well intended, well rested individuals who don't understand how significantly insomnia can impact our lives.

I ran into a situation like this recently, and I wanted to share it, along with some methods for managing frustration and specific questions to ask your provider.

When my pre-sleep routine fails me

The other night, I did all of the things I normally do before bed. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, took my medication, got into bed, scrolled through Instagram for a bit, and then put my eye mask on along with some quiet soothing music. Typically this is when my 30-60 minute period of trying to fall asleep takes place.

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That night, I got up to go to the bathroom a few times and noticed that while the clock was moving, my eyelids were not. I had not yet fallen asleep yet, and it was nearly 2:30am. I got out of bed yet again, and took an additional as needed prescription from my psychiatrist to support sleep, had a snack, did a little writing, and then got back into bed close to 5:30am. Note - I have a toddler who wakes up at 7am so this is a bit tricky.

I went through my re-sleep patterns - soft music, eye mask, cozy blanket, but nothing worked. I tossed and turned without my eyes ever staying closed.

And truthfully, that’s when I started to wonder - how do you deal with the frustration and exhaustion that follows the following day?

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After my 5:30am second bedtime, I had no luck falling asleep then either. So I got up, made some coffee, and waited for our daughter to wake up.

At first, I thought I was a little delirious, eye a bit blurry and anxiety a bit high, but then I reached the overtired, slapstick type humor phase. I desperately needed to sleep, and being awake for 36 hours was never in my plan.

Tips for managing the frustration of insomnia:

  1. Its not easy, but be gentle with yourself mentally and physically. Sleep is critical to the human bodys functionality and it's imperative that it has a chance to recharge. Without it, you simply can't function the way that you're used to.
  2. If your kiddo's are old enough, explain to them in age appropriate terms that you are exhausted, and need play quietly today (or have them play independently with your supervision)
  3. Drink coffee. Lots of coffee. Pretend that it's not going to impact the next nights sleep because right now your only priority is to get through today.


Specific questions to ask your provider:

And finally, I reached out to my doctor to discuss the situation. Here's some of the questions I asked, incase they're helpful to you:

  1. How is it possible that even while taking this medication, I sometimes can't fall asleep at all. How come my anxiety medication doesn't make me feel tired enough to doze?
  2. Does my PTSD hypervigilance play a part in this challenge?
  3. Why are some nights much better sleep than other nights?
  4. Is there a different breakthrough medication I can take to help me fall back asleep in the middle of the night?
  5. Is this more than Insomnia? Is there something else preventing me from sleeping?
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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