Sleep And Mental Illness: Stop Staring at the Clock!
Easier said than done! I recognize a pattern in my posts: I seem to be telling you what you probably already know. I write that recovering from mental illness is exhausting and that taking psychiatric medication leaves something to be desired. But these topics are important and they need to be discussed.
So, let's talk about sleep.
My Experience with Mental Illness and Sleep
Sure, designate me a narcissist for explaining why I am writing about my experience, but I'm writing it anyway because my experience the last week has influenced the content, the importance, of this topic.
A picture: It's 11 p.m. I have a routine and routine is very important for those of us lucky chaps with mental illness. It can be the very thing that ensures we stay well or a sign things are about to get a little shaky.
Or it can just be insomnia.
I read before bed: I put my I-pad away, kick the pet's out to the living room because my dog, unfortunately, snores and my damn cat has allergies and sneezes. Yes, a cat can have allergies. I read until the book falls flat on my face and smashes my glasses into my nose. I turn the lamp off or I forget. I fall asleep in the average seven-to-twenty-minutes. I wake up early. I write blogs like this one. It is terribly average and terribly important in my recovery.
The past few days: It is 12 a.m., 1 a.m., 2 a.m, and...yes 3, 4, 5...nearly six a.m.! I start to panic at 12 a.m. I keep reading. When the clock hits 2 a.m. I start thinking I am going crazy.
The next night, the same thing. I panic. When you have a mental illness, this reaction is probably normal. We cling to our stability like a goddamn life raft, and we should. Sleep is a huge indicator of our mental health--but stressing out to the point of panic is just as awful. So, what can we do when we can't sleep?
Conventional Ideas for Handling Sleep Problems
Here is what I am not going to exhaust in detail:
-Drinking warm milk
-Having a hot bath
-Drinking mass amounts of chamomile tea
-Jogging in one spot
-Calling random people from your cell phone and complaining you can't sleep
-No drinking alcohol
The latter is obvious. Alcohol messes around with our medication. The milk and tea, well, my mother keeps telling me they work but she's asleep by 9:30 and how lovely for her! Go ahead and try these, they might work, just skip the jogging and alcohol.
Unconventional Ideas for Getting to Sleep
-Avoid watching TV, playing around online, listening to upbeat music. These things stimulate our mind and when we need to sleep we need it to slow down a bit. Maybe a lot.
-Read and read and read. Try reading something that isn't particularly interesting.
I subscribe to about twenty-five literary and poetry magazines (I feel it is my duty as a writer, just like tasting the food you make if you are a chef). Sometimes, they are so boring I fall asleep with prose about nature or angst beside my head.
-Pick up paper and a pen. Write until your hand hurts. Or sketch.
Remind yourself that a few nights of insomnia is normal. Remember that if a few long nights becomes a few more, check in with your psychiatrist. Last night, I put my head to the pillow, cursed the rain outside, and fell asleep. Blissfully, on time!
Next week, I want to discuss the flip-side: Sleeping too much.
Sometimes, the best advice...Stop Staring at the Clock!
You can read more about sleep disorders and mental health here.
Champagne, N. (2012, February 16). Sleep And Mental Illness: Stop Staring at the Clock!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2012/02/sleep-and-mental-illness-stop-staring-at-the-clock
Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne
I agree on all of those. It's so important when we can give each other ideas.
I agree. You will no longer read this language in my blog, though I do not, in any way, intend it in a negative way---nevertheless, I need to respect my readers! You will not see it anymore.