Do you struggle with insomnia and want to know if others experience the same issues as you? Do you know someone who has insomnia and want to learn more about what struggles they may face? This article will take a look into a day in the life of an insomniac. But first, it’s important to understand what insomnia is.
Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide and 1 in 3 people state they have experienced insomnia at some point in their life. Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, and it can have a significant impact on an individual’s daily life and overall well-being. In this blog, we take a closer look at how those living with insomnia navigate the day. Whether you are personally affected by insomnia or simply want to learn more about the problem insomniacs face, this blog is for you.
To effectively manage insomnia, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what it entails. Insomnia can be categorized into two types: acute and chronic.
Acute insomnia is short-term and often occurs due to a specific event or situation, such as stress, jet lag, or illness. This type of insomnia typically resolves itself once the underlying cause is addressed. On the other hand, chronic insomnia is a long-term condition that persists for at least three nights a week for three months or more. It may not have an obvious trigger and can significantly impact a person’s daily life.
Insomnia can also be classified based on its underlying cause, such as psychological factors (stress, anxiety, depression), medical conditions, or certain medications and substances. Careful identification of the cause is vital in developing a personalized treatment plan. In the next section, we will discuss what a typical day entails and insomnia’s potential risks on physical and mental health.
The Day Begins: Coping with Fatigue
The morning arrives, but for an insomniac, it often feels like sleep has evaded them once again. For most, sleep is a time of rest and relaxation. For an insomniac, sleep can be a stressful time, even causing anxiety at times. They may try multiple approaches or home remedies in an effort to obtain normal sleep, but it rarely works. Waking up after a restless night, the first challenge is coping with overwhelming fatigue. The lack of quality sleep can leave an insomniac feeling drained, both physically and mentally. Morning workouts are often skipped and feel impossible to accomplish without proper sleep.
Fatigue becomes a constant companion, making even the simplest tasks seem daunting. Concentration and productivity suffer, affecting professional and personal life. For most, the early hours of the workday are the hardest. Insomniacs typically don’t feel completely awake until hours after arriving at work. The insomniac may find themselves relying on caffeine or energy drinks to stay alert throughout the day, but this is only a temporary fix and may hinder the quality of sleep the following night.
Navigating the Workday
For an insomniac, the challenges of a workday can feel overwhelmingly burdensome. The lack of restful sleep leaves one feeling fatigued and mentally drained. This, in turn, affects their concentration and productivity, making even the simplest tasks seem difficult. Tempers may run hot at the slightest inconvenience, and the feeling of being overwhelmed seems like a daily occurrence. Many insomniacs find themselves thinking about their sleep throughout the day, which can mean concentration on important work tasks becomes fragmented.
The morning coffee turns into the afternoon coffee, and insomniacs often wonder how they’ll ever make it through the day without the help of caffeine.
On days without work, napping seems to be a constant thought. Some find themselves dosing often during the day, while others find that no matter how hard they try and how exhausted they are, a nap eludes them.
The evening exhaustion
After navigating the hurdles of the workday, insomniacs are often exhausted around dinnertime and some even find themselves dosing on the couch throughout the evening. Household chores are often disregarded or left to others to do as exhaustion is making mundane tasks impossible. Feelings of guilt often start to set in around the tasks they are unable to accomplish and anxiety about the upcoming night can happen. This makes evenings a time of stress, instead of a time of relaxation. As bedtime nears insomniacs often wonder if sleep will happen properly and will often try new relaxation techniques each night in the hope that it will positively impact sleep. Consistent bedtime routines are a thing of the past. The stress of always looking for better ways to sleep can make bedtime a cue for overthinking, overworrying, or overanalyzing. Once again, bedtime has become a stressful event, and feelings of anxiety start to creep in.
Some insomniacs have resorted to sleep aids or medications in a desperate attempt to kick insomnia to the curb. Many find short term relief, however insomnia often continues and the thought of stopping sleep meds causes more anxiety.
An Endless Cycle
This specific insomnia example may not ring true with every insomniac, but the endless cycle of exhaustion but poor sleep likely is. Insomniacs often say that they don’t understand how they can be so exhausted, yet sleep poorly at night. The poor quality sleep at night leads to exhaustion during the day, which then leads to poor sleep hygiene habits or anxiety around sleep, which then precipitates another poor night. Insomniacs often research insomnia home remedies or recent sleep hacks, however few seem to work any longer than a night or two, if they work at all. The question I hear from nearly all insomniacs: “Is there anything that fix my insomnia?”
Seeking Professional Help
While implementing strategies like improving sleep hygiene and self-care can be beneficial for managing insomnia, many individuals find that their sleep difficulties persist despite these efforts. It’s very important to know that professional help for insomnia is available and may be necessary to address underlying issues and receive proper treatment. Physicians, and sleep coaches/clinicians with insomnia training have a deep understanding of how sleep works and can help you to understand what things may help your sleep, and what things are harming your sleep.
Sleep professionals often conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the root causes of your insomnia and develop a personalized sleep improvement plan. This may involve cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is the recommended first approach to insomnia by the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and other reputable medical organizations. CBT-I is an evidence-based approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to sleep problems. It can help individuals develop healthier sleep habits and improve sleep quality.
Insomnia is complex and often has a profound effect on other aspects of life like relationships, work productivity, and mental health. It is important to note that improving self-care and sleep hygiene can have a positive impact on sleep, but it may take time and patience. Seeking professional help from a physician or insomnia trained sleep coaches/clinicians can be a great first step in significantly enhancing your sleep quality and putting you on a path to healthier sleep.