Person lying awake in bed

Insomnia – Bouncing Back After a Tough Night

I’ve lived with insomnia for a long time. For the most part, I have developed tools and skills to manage my sleep disorder.

That doesn’t make me exempt from struggles!

Recently, I had a really tough night. I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary – I went to bed around the same time as usual, with the same routine and setting. I didn’t have caffeine or food later in the day than usual. I practiced self-care and all of the other things that help me live with insomnia.

I knew things were off

Within a half-hour of getting into bed, I knew things were off. Although my body was winding down, I couldn’t get my brain to relax. I kept thinking of thing after thing after thing.

Listening to guided meditations wasn’t helping. Journaling a brain dump made me feel accomplished, but it didn’t prevent the re-start of circling thoughts when I laid back down.

It took me almost 3 hours to finally fall asleep

I woke up an hour and 45 minutes later to use the restroom and immediately felt distraught at trying to fall back asleep.

My night continued like that – long stretches of staring at the ceiling, practicing my breathing techniques, filling my mind with pleasant things, trying to focus on relaxation, etc., only to doze off and sleep impossibly lightly. After a short period of time, I’d wake back up and the whole cycle would repeat.

At 6 AM, I got out of bed, frustrated by my inability to rest. I hadn’t had a night like this in a while, and it honestly threw me off my game.

And then my day began

First off, I was TIRED. Like, really exhausted.

This didn’t automatically cancel my day. My daughter still needed mama. My clients still needed their deliverables. My calendar still had meetings scheduled.

I felt overwhelmed. I took a shower, made coffee, and sat down to create my to-do list. I tried to prioritize what was a must over what could be delayed. I looked at any possible point in which I could go for a walk to get fresh air or lie down for a nap if my body required more.

More than physical fatigue

The thing was, I was really frustrated, too.

This bad night didn’t just affect me physically. It left me angry and on edge emotionally too. What had gone wrong after several months of predictable nights? Could I have done something different or better to prevent what had happened?

How was I going to recover? Bouncing back after a night of lost sleep is a feat for me. It’s not instantaneous. It usually takes about a week with good rest and nourishment and support for my body to feel somewhat recovered. Who has time for that? I certainly don’t.

Unfortunately, that’s not a choice most insomnia patients can make. Nobody chooses to have a tough night!

What I've learned about this process

Here's what I've learned – recuperating is a process. It's not linear. It may feel just as frustrating as dealing with insomnia in the first place. I have to practice grace with myself and my circumstances. I have to communicate to my partner, my boss, and anyone else when I'm struggling. And I have to know that it will get better, that not every night or every week is like this.

If struggling to sleep or falling behind on sleep impacts you emotionally as well as physically, I want you to know you’re not alone.

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