A person asleep in bed

Insomnia: How It Started and How It's Going

My brain is virtually bursting with the most useless of thoughts. Amazingly, I have room up there to store some obscure memories, too. I remember the first time I tasted wasabi. I can recall the conversation between the OR nurses who assisted with setting my broken arm when I was 7 years old. I even remember a first-grade classmate telling me to never ever drink chocolate milk and eat a banana, "It will make you sick,” she said.

You would think I would be able to recall some of the more significant things like, say for instance, the moment I realized I had insomnia. But I can't. I can, however, recall my growing frustration and confusion.

How it started

The first thing that alerted me I might have a sleeping issue was an overwhelming feeling of being tired, but unable to drift off to sleep. Out of 7 nights, I may have fallen asleep within an hour of lying down about 4 nights.

It didn't take me long to dread going to bed for fear my eyes would pop wide open as soon as my head hit the pillow. I believe it is safe to say that I started having some panicky moments immediately prior to turning in for the night. I wanted more than anything to just lie down, settle beneath the covers, and fade away into unconsciousness without drama or dread.

Not long after I first began to struggle with falling asleep, the ability to remain asleep left me. I quickly lost count of the number of times I would wake during the night and reposition my body in hopes of dozing off once more. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't.

More often than not, I would find myself growing increasingly angry at my brain's blatant disregard for my body's needs. Unfortunately, the more I woke during the night and the more worked up I got, the less likely I was to score any more winks. This went on for months, and months turned into years.

First efforts to regain control

Not one to relinquish control of much at all, I was desperate to relearn how to sleep. It shouldn't have been difficult. After all, sleep is supposed to come naturally, right?

I set my disdain for medications aside after a few months of trying to will sleep back into my life, and I tried melatonin. With some varying results depending on the night, I was able to get some rest. Melatonin, strangely enough, doesn't consistently provide me with restful sleep, and I was off to find another solution.

Research and discussions with friends led me to try a white noise machine. This, I must say, was a bigger help than I anticipated. Providing the perfect distraction from my thoughts (and my fear of not falling asleep), the white noise played an important role in giving me some long-overdue rest. It hasn't been the be-all-end-all in solutions, but it has definitely made a difference and a positive one at that.

How it's going

Several years have passed now since I began admitting I have insomnia. I build what amounts to an adult pillow fort in my bed in order to get comfortable at night. I crank up the white noise to drown out all others in both my head and home. My neck is cradled in a contour pillow that is as ugly as sin, and I drift off most nights to the soothing sounds of sleep meditations emanating from my phone on the bedside table.

I said all that to say this – I am sleeping. Not without waking and not without struggling to drift off, but I am sleeping. I can't really ask for more considering where I started, now can I?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Insomnia.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America Survey yet?