Community Views: What Do You Wish More People Knew About Insomnia?
Last updated: June 2023
This year's summer solstice, June 21, is also Insomnia Awareness Night. This special night is when we recognize the difficulties of living with insomnia. Insomnia Awareness Night also promotes the treatments available.
Living with insomnia makes a good night of sleep impossible to have. It can be discouraging to cope with insomnia when people around you do not seem to understand.
We reached out to community members on the Insomnia.Sleep-Disorders.net Facebook page. We asked, "What do you wish more people knew about insomnia?" Over 80 people responded! Here is what they had to say.
I can't force myself to sleep
Many people assume you can just tire yourself out. But even a long exercise session is not enough for you to get the proper rest. Despite feeling tired, you find yourself struggling to sleep.
"I spent 7 hours kayaking, and the people I went with were in bed before 9 PM. Not me - I was still wandering around until the early hours wide awake. No amount of physical activity does anything for me at all."
"I've stayed up for 5 days straight when I don't take my sleep meds... No matter how much you try to tire yourself out, it almost lands a backhanded blow."
"I work every day. I got out and used a manual push mower and cut my yard yesterday in addition to a 40-minute walk, but that didn't make me sleepy last night. I was pretty much up all night."
It is life altering
Having insomnia changes your daily life. You feel tired and cannot look forward to the pleasure of getting a good night of rest. Sleep disorders can affect your mood and activity throughout the day. Remaining active in your work or maintaining personal relationships can become exhausting.
"It's not just about losing sleep... It's not a choice... You live your life around it."
"The struggle with insomnia daily is so difficult and almost nothing works for us people who have insomnia. On top of that, dealing with severe insomnia makes it very difficult to hold a job."
"You never ever really catch up on healthy rest. Ever."
"Nightly, I walk the floors because of restless leg syndrome, toss and turn when in bed, wake up hourly, and am exhausted day in and day out."
"Insomnia and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea, hypersomnia, and restless legs are real... I have all the above, dealing with them for well over 21 years now, and I'm genuinely surprised I'm still alive sometimes, turning 50 in August!"
Not feeling like yourself
You may feel distant from activities or lack engagement with others. It's hard to remain upbeat and active with insomnia. It can be frustrating when people think you are only in a bad mood. It is common to not be at your best when you go night after night with minimal rest.
"The emotional and physical stress it takes on, being irritable, being mean, being unhappy, being sometimes nothing. It's an affliction I wish upon no one."
"How we're really only barely functioning, so our personalities are not really us. Too tired to engage in fun or meaningful conversation most of the time, so we're not really 'us.' Just some lower version of ourselves."
"That we're tired, and we're crabby!"
Lack of understanding
People may not understand the severity of your symptoms. Common tricks to help most people fall asleep don't apply to you. It can be frustrating when others presume your symptoms are exaggerated.
"Telling someone to count sheep or read a book helps - no it doesn't, neither does warm milk."
"It's not just in our heads. We can't magically fall asleep in 5 minutes or less like others. And please. Stop yelling at us for being sleepy."
"When you say you've had no sleep, it means you've had no sleep for weeks or for months on end. And people say, 'Oh, I didn't sleep too good last night.' They have no idea. Oh, I wish it was just an odd night every now and again."
"Insomnia is a real condition, but nobody seems to get it and what you go through each and every night and day, other than another insomniac! Because it can't be seen, people don't see it... There does not seem to be much support for insomniacs or specialists even."
"Quit suggesting melatonin and a better pillow... Like we are dumbasses or something.”
Thank you! We appreciate the insomnia community's openness to sharing the frustrating aspects of your symptoms. We hope this helps promote awareness of the adversity that comes with insomnia.
What do you do at night when you can't sleep?