I used to think that I suffered from insomnia. However, insomnia or painsomnia, as many of us who suffer from chronic pain like to refer to it wasn’t to blame. Insomnia is not being able to sleep. Painsomnia is when pain prevents someone from sleeping. After an experiment, I discovered that neither was really my problem.
Five years ago I discovered that my body had its own opinion in regards to when sleeping was possible. Weather changes, mainly pressure from storm fronts or heatwaves are mostly to blame for my nights and days getting mixed up. I used to fight them by medicating heavier than I typically did, but that only made me feel worse when I woke up. Or I would just lie wide awake in bed all night long waiting to fall asleep. When I would finally fall asleep I didn’t make adjustments to get the hours I needed, instead, I would force myself to wake up when I had planned. Since that wasn’t working I decided to start listening to my body and to give it what it wanted.
I didn’t work outside of my home. There was no reason for me to be awake during certain hours of the day except for my wanting to keep a “normal” schedule. But it was that “normal” schedule that causing my exhaustion. Without an excuse I decided to begin an experiment. Instead of fighting my body I chose to work with it. This meant not forcing my body to go to bed or wake up before it was ready. It also meant accepting that there would be times when my “night’s” sleep would actually occur during the day.
When I began following its lead my body rewarded me with 6-10 hours of sleep at a time. During the hours that I was awake my brain wasn’t foggy nor did I feel sluggish. Once I accepted my natural sleep cycle I learned how to make the most of it. Instead of lying in bed waiting to fall asleep or trying to numb myself to sleep with medication I use those hours the same as I would if I were awake during the day. I use that time to cook for my family so they will have something to eat while I am sleeping the next day. I also use that time to work and catch up on household chores.
Going to bed when the sun rises and waking up before sunset isn’t my first choice, but I’d rather live like a vampire several times a year than live everyday like a zombie. Thankfully the current heatwave in southern California is nearing an end and my sleep schedule will soon revert back to its regular pattern. But until then I will continue to soak up moon beams and be thankful that I can sleep, even if the hours aren’t ideal.
Do you suffer from insomnia or painsomnia? Or could it be that you just haven’t discovered your sleep pattern? To be clear I am not discounting or saying that insomnia and painsomnia aren’t real, because they are. They just weren’t my problem. For me, it was truly an issue of not working with or around my illnesses.