Insomnia: My Take on How to Appreciate Sleep

Recently, I was asked by my husband, someone who I watch sleep incredibly well most nights, how I feel about a good night’s sleep. What he was asking about was not my jealousy or lust or wishes after rest - especially when someone else is getting a good sleep, but rather, when I do get it, do I feel grateful? Do I feel frustrated that not every night is restful? Do I feel desperate to recreate the exact circumstances that brought the quality sleep to me in the first place?

I hadn’t thought much about this, to be honest.

But the next night, when I was laying awake beside him, scrolling through a catalog of thoughts in my mind, I returned to this question.

A different kind of restoration

When I get a good stretch of rest - whether that’s a solid nap or part/all of a night’s sleep, I feel a different kind of restored when I wake up. I feel a little like superwoman, to be honest. There’s pep in my step, clarity in my thoughts, and motivation in my actions.

There’s an extra something - whether it’s energy for cooking, a mind for reading, time for a phone call - that propels me forward in a renewed way.

I feel 2 things

I don’t usually stop and sit in my feelings or thoughts about this experience, because, well that takes time and energy that I’m usually trying not to let pass me by! But, if I did really think about this I’d feel 2 things:

Sadness

First, I’d feel sad. Sad that some people feel like this the majority of time they wake up from sleeping, and this is such a rare occurrence for me. Sad that I can’t be this version of myself all of the time. Sad that these moments sometimes feel fleeting.

Gratitude

Then, I’d feel thankful. I’d appreciate the actual, real sleep I’d gotten, regardless of why or how I “received” it. I’d be so thankful for the way it refreshed my mind and my body in a way that I don’t usually experience. I’d feel grateful that my body was so tired, or so at peace, or so whatever was necessary, in order to quiet my mind and my body into a restorative rest, one that made a true difference in my day!

Living in the AND

I look at those contradictory feelings, and I think about life in the AND. Holding space for 2 sets of emotions, 2 sets of opposing viewpoints about the same moments in time, it can be exhausting, AND it can be empowering.

As someone who has struggled with insomnia since childhood, I have found it incredibly important for me to appreciate sleep when I am able to get it. There’s nothing fun about living life in a constant state of drowsiness, but there is an element of pride I have for what I’ve accomplished many days despite my exhaustion.

Living louder and always looking ahead

On days where I feel extra rested, I live a little louder. I push myself a little harder to finish my to-do list, return phone calls, go grocery shopping, put away laundry, and spend more time (and energy) with the people I love (in person, or virtually these days).

And on days when I don’t, when the energy is scarce and the rest is even scarcer, I remember that the sleep will come. I won’t ever know ahead of time when or for how long, but I can look forward to the feelings I’ll get after real rest.

I’d love to hear how you think about good sleep as an insomniac. Are you resentful? Angry? Grateful? Please share below!

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