A finger pointing at a woman slumped over

Dear Friends: My Insomnia Is a Big Deal

Perhaps I should not describe people like this as friends. I suppose they are more acquaintances because I am not referring to people close to me. I am talking about the people who are dismissive of my insomnia and the problems it causes.

Maybe you have encountered the type of people I am talking about. I mean the people who think you will be fine missing a few hours of sleep to get up much earlier than usual to do something. If I received a decent amount of sleep on other nights, I would say that is fair. Unfortunately, I do not get a decent amount of sleep. Ever.

Struggling to get enough sleep

When someone has chronic insomnia, they are usually working on the bare minimum of sleep. They are not getting a good night’s rest every night. When you suggest someone is being dramatic about missing a few hours of sleep, you need to understand that person may be only getting a few hours of sleep each night.

It is much easier for someone to get up 3 hours earlier when they sleep 6 to 8 hours a night on most nights. When someone gets 4 or 5 hours of sleep, losing a few hours of sleep is close to not sleeping at all. What you are saying to an insomniac is that they will be fine not sleeping. Try going for more than 24 hours with nothing more than a short nap, then get back to me on how you feel about it.

Trying to avoid sleep deprivation

It is hurtful when people attempt to shame you for trying to avoid sleep deprivation. Make no mistake. If I get up 3 hours earlier than normal, I may have slept for an hour. If I am lucky, I may have gotten 2 hours of sleep. When I tell you I cannot get up early to do something, do not try to make me feel bad for saying no to an early start to my day.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying. I do indeed volunteer to endure sleep deprivation for things that matter. I have attended funerals, graduations, and other important events in a daze. Important events are just that – important. Wanting to go shopping or out to breakfast is not an important event. I am not going to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation for such things.

My sleep schedule dictates my schedule

Some people do not understand that asking me to get up at 7 in the morning is the equivalent of me asking them to get up at 2 in the morning. Actually, many who would ask me to get up that early would still be getting more sleep.

I understand that my schedule is odd. I do. However, I did not choose this schedule and I am not happy with it, either. I go to bed at 10 at night, just like many of you. The difference is I cannot go to sleep earlier than 3 or 4 in the morning. Even after I fall asleep, I may wake up every hour and stay awake for up to an hour before I can go back to sleep.

I need to sleep when I can sleep

Please try to understand that I am doing the best I can. I am trying to get enough sleep to function and get through my day. My schedule is odd, but my days are full. I have things to do, and I am usually tired due to a lack of sleep while trying to juggle the many things I must do. Adding to the exhaustion by getting up early is not a small thing. It is a big deal.

Stop being dismissive, and stop trying to shame me for trying to get enough sleep to get things done. I really am doing the best I can and pointing out my shortcomings due to insomnia only makes my insomnia worse.

How do you deal with people being dismissive of your insomnia? Have you been judged for trying to get enough sleep? How did you handle the situation?

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