If you aren’t familiar with my Lupus journey, check out Living With Lupus Part 1 and Part 2.
LUPUS FACT: Insomnia is a B****!
One of the hardest things for me is developing a consistent sleep routine. Some nights I’m out by 9:00 pm, but most nights I’m forced to toss and turn for hours, praying for some kind of relief. If you know me, then you know I very much value my sleep. It’s literally my favorite thing to do, so imagine how frustrating it is that it’s also one of the most difficult things for me to do. Here’s what an average night is like for me:
Restless Leg Syndrome
No position is comfortable. I’m constantly shifting and moving around. I’m not sure how to explain the feeling but it’s UN-COM-FOR-TABLE! I guess it’s like my leg muscles are stuck in flex mode. Bending them is uncomfortable, straitening them is even more uncomfortable, and at that point, I’m out of options. I find myself in some weird positions seeking solace but to no avail. Eventually, it just goes away but with no warning or indication. My best bet is to wait it out.
Unpredictable sleeping pattern
Sometimes I’m in bed by 10:00 or 11:00 pm but don’t fall asleep until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. Some weeks I can’t sleep past 9:00 am, while other weeks I can’t get up before noon. My body does what it wants, leaving me in a constant state of grogginess. I refer to myself as a night owl and it’s true, I do my best work at night, but lately, it’s been more by force and less by choice.
Self -explanatory. Wouldn’t you be frustrated if you went through this every night? I feel exhausted but my body will not sleep. It’s like my brain is out of sync with everything else.
My eyes and limbs burn with tiredness and my body STILL won’t go to sleep. I’m starting to think that it finds joy in my suffering.
A String of Naps
It’s a very rare occasion when I make it through an entire night without waking up, but I’ve learned to deal with it. I wake up, check my phone, grab a snack, and watch the end of whatever movie is going off until I sink back into my next “nap”. That’s literally what my night consists of, a string of naps. Each one brings a new dream and I can literally fill an entire notebook with the number of dreams I have in one week.
Lack of sleep causes my symptoms to flare up, so it’s no wonder I’m always in some sort of pain or experiencing some form of joint stiffness. O, and my career doesn’t make it any better. As a freelance film/tv professional, my sleep pattern suffers whenever I’m on a project. 12 – 14 hours on set for multiple days, it’s like my body is in the twilight zone and doesn’t know what to do.
Despite all these negatives, I find some positive ways to deal with it by:
Playing games on my phone
Candy Crush and I have a unique relationship, and I’m learning Chess ( which I’m horrible at by the way). It helps calm my mind and keeps it off the frustration of not being able to sleep.
Trying not to work in bed during the day
I want to differentiate my recreational places in the house from my sleep places. I want my body to only associate my bed with sleep. FYI, I struggle with this one. I’m sitting on my bed, legs crossed, typing away, as we speak. Hey, I’m not perfect but at least I’m trying.
Eating right before bed
This is probably the reason why I can’t seem to get that six pack I’ve been working towards for years. I know, it’s horrible to eat right before bed but the itis is a useful sidekick when you’re trying to go to sleep. Don’t judge me.
Trying to be in bed at the same time every night
Even if that means consistently going to bed at 1:00 am. I try and get to bed earlier and earlier, hoping that I can train my body to sleep during normal hours. This is a new technique for me so I’ll let you know how it goes.
Showering right before I go to bed
The hot water relaxes me. Couple that with eating and you can’t go wrong. (Please do not adopt my unhealthy habits. I do eat pretty healthy so maybe it’s not that bad).
Certified by every Caribbean, everywhere, I drink a nice tall glass of tea. Not sure if I’m just brainwashed but in my head, it works. You should try it.
Different nights require different strategies, which are by trial and error. When none work, I find myself up, writing, like I’m doing right now. Lupus has taught me patience, and there’s no point in getting upset over something that’s out of my control. Let’s just pray I can fall asleep after this.