tom and jerry, sleep deprived, tired, sleep, insomnia

10 things you know if you haven’t slept properly for years

  1. Thank you, but lavender sprays/Valerian tablets/acupuncture/visualising a beach/sleep CDs/all your other suggestions are not even going to touch the sides.
  2. Going to bed early won’t make any difference. That thing about the hours before midnight being the most important is completely not true.
  3. While the idea of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds as mythical as a unicorn and just as appealing, some people are fine on a lot less. Not feeling like you’re failing is important to your sanity, which, when you haven’t slept properly for a long time, will be thin on the ground.
  4. Not sleeping for prolonged periods of time can make you a bit mad. It can also make you a bit depressed. It can ALSO make you let go of a lot of worries and fears because you’re too tired to do anything but laugh.
  5. Telling people you are an insomniac is not very healthy. It’s sort of like giving yourself permission to not sleep – as if you’ve given up on the notion that you’re entitled to sleep well. The language you use around sleep is more important than you might think – being described as the One Who Doesn’t Ever Sleep has something moody and almost romantic about it. Like you’re too busy examining your feelings to do something as mundane as sleeping. Exclude yourself from that narrative.
  6. You will worry about death in the middle of the night. And then you’ll worry about whether you took the chicken out of the freezer. None of it makes sense.
  7. You will remember songs you hadn’t thought of in YEARS. You might even be quite pleased initially. And then two hours later, you’ll wish TLC had never formed as a band and that no one had ever written Waterfalls.
  8. Like having a bad back or being scared of flying, you’ll have incredible empathy for other people who are going through the same thing and you’ll really want to help them. Exchanging ideas is legitimate in this instance. No one who hasn’t slept properly in a long time is going to suggest anything that involves lavender.
  9. As infuriating as it is, you’ll realise that your brain has only formed a habit and thinks you should be awake all the time. In the end, this is probably only happening to you because your brain is reading from the wrong memo – but not out of malice in order to make you a psychotic sleepless dementor, but out of a misguided attempt to protect you. It’s about changing the cycle.
  10. You can’t bank sleep. Having one good night doesn’t undo the crimes of the previous sleepless nights, nor does having an afternoon nap. It’s all about the pattern and the continuity. But like all patterns, it’s capable of being recalibrated – it’s just about finding what works for you in all your unique, glorious, sleep-deprived madness.
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