Living With Sleep Disturbances

On Monday, I wrote about my relationship with the night. Today, I saw that the topic for Tale Weaver this week is sleep. I thought I’d use this opportunity to expand on Monday’s post a little and write about my various sleep issues. After all, being a night owl is one thing. Experiencing significant sleep disturbances is quite another.

First, there is of course plain old insomnia. I talked about this on Monday mostly. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a lot of trouble falling asleep. Once I was asleep, staying asleep usually wasn’t that hard, except during times of significantly elevated stress.

Then there was the opposite. I honestly don’t think I ever truly suffered with hypersomnia, but there were definitely times I slept far more than I should have. These were often times of low stimulation. IN other words, I was bored to the point of sleeping.

Then there are these sleep disturbances that I cannot really classify and, since I haven’t been to a doctor with them at this point, neither can anyone else. I get really weird half-awakening states where it feels as if I’m doing something for which I should clearly be awake, only to realize later on that I wasn’t doing anything at all and was just half-awake thinking of doing something. With this come weird sensations, almost like hallucinations, too. These half-awakenings currently are very scary. I’ve heard they might be a sign of sleep paralysis, but I don’t think I experience the actual inability to move upon waking up that comes with it.

Then there are nightmares. I don’t get your standard child’s monster-under-your-bed nightmares. Neither do I get violent nightmares usually. In this sense, my nightmares don’t fit the criterion for PTSD. Then again, probably neither does most of my trauma, as most of it was mental and emotional abuse. Rather, I get nightmares that relate to my anxieties, such as of being kicked out of the care facility.

With these half-awakenings and my nightmares, it’s no wonder that sleep often invades my day-time life and vice versa. I find that nightmares often seem to go after me during the day and half-awakenings scare me too. This in turn contributes to a fear of going to sleep, which contributes to insomnia.

One sleep disorder I need to mention here, which I thankfully don’t have, is non-24-hour circadian rhythm disorder. This is common in totally blind individuals and occurs because our natural biological clocks seem not to co-occur with exactly the 24-hour clock of a day. This is corrected in people with some vision by the perception of light and dark, which regulates melatonin production. I have hardly any light perception left, but thankfully my sleep-wake cycle does not seem to be affected as of yet.

10 thoughts on “Living With Sleep Disturbances

  1. I’m sorry that you deal with multiple sleep problems. As I think I’ve shared with you before, I also have false/half-awakenings quite regularly, usually they’re with sleep paralysis, sometimes not, and usually they are also with quite creepy hallucinations and some odd sensations so I feel you with this. This really can be scary, and sometimes even extremely confusing for me anyway, I sometimes wonder whether at some point I may just not be able to differentiate at all whether I’m awake or asleep. 😀 This rationally doesn’t seem likely but my brain has gotten really good at deceiving me that I’m awake and then throwing some creepy stuff at me out of the blue. I also seem to get more nightmares than an average individual, at least based on my observations and chats with other people, and they’re also not the children’s classics or similar to other people’s nightmares. But I also have a lot of very pleasant, or at least interesting, or funny, or emotionally engaging, full of plot twists, vivid dreams which I absolutely love, so assuming that all the yucky sleep stuff is the price I have to pay for all the funn sleep stuff, I’d rather pay it than have meh dreams most of the time.
    It sucks that these scary things make it difficult for you to fall asleep. I also used to be very fearful of falling asleep especially directly after some particularly bad sleep paralysis episode when I was a kid but at this point I guess I’ve gotten used to it sufficiently that it doesn’t interfere with my falling asleep. Perhaps also because I usually get these things later at night/early in the morning rather than directly when falling asleep.
    I’m glad that so far you haven’t been affected by non-24, it sounds like a real pain. I also have no light perception at all and while my sleep cycle is quite freaky, I doubt I have full-blown non-24 so I consider myself pretty lucky. My sleep/wake time shifts a lot and rather erratically, as does the amount of sleep I need or can get and how rested I am after that sleep, some days I can sleep 12 hours and wake up still sleepy, and at other times I can sleep three hours and wake up with lots energy, and all sorts of interesting combinations in between, it’s odd because I guess people with nnon-24 don’t have the problem with cyclically shifting amount of sleep and energy, just the hours, and it can get in the way of life, but from what I’ve heard about non-24, it affects people way worse than my sleep cycle irregularities affect me, and over time I have been able to make some compromises with my brain which makes it a bit easier to manage at least most of the time, and I know what’s particularly likely to trigger very bad shifts and how to get myself out of a particularly messed up sleep-wake rhythm.

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    1. Thanks for your extensive comment. I am so glad your sleep issues no longer cause you to fear getting to sleep. Looking back, I always had bad anxiety around falling asleep even before I started having nightmares that I was aware of. I think it’s the loss of control that scared me at the time.

      As for emotionally enriching dreams, I get them too, but would rather just have meh dreams rather than the vivid dreams good and bad, as both tend to chase after me during the day.

      I too have strong variations in my need for sleep and my energy level. I wonder whether it’s related to my mood somehow, or to particular triggers. I unfortunately can’t get myself out of a shift like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As quite a self-control freak myself, I can understand the feel of losing control when falling asleep, even though I usually haven’t experienced it in this specific situation. When I think of it more, it does feel creepy though. My Mum always says that sleep is like a mini death and all sorts of things can happen while you’re asleep and you might not even know, not even after you wake up. This is obviously true but sounds super scary when you start dwelling on it.
        Yeah, it makes sense how the positive vivid dreams could also affect you in a bad way during the day, this does sometimes happen to me too in that i feel really attached to the dream and wish it was real or something and I can’t get over it but I still love them too much to give up on them if I had a choice.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, your Mom’s comment truly creeps me out! I’m not even sure my thoughts about losing control in my sleep were about people doing things to me or something like that. I guess it was just a general anxiety. Thankfully I don’t experience it that much anymore.

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