On Not Sleeping

One of my students asked me for some testimony as an insomnia sufferer, and when I was done writing this for her, I felt like others might appreciate shedding a little light on this particular life inconvenience that affects many Americans. In fact, “according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health, about 30-40% of adults say they have some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, and about 10-15 percent of adults say they have chronic insomnia.” (*) Here are the answers I sent Emily, in hopes that it’s helpful for someone! 🙂



1. With insomnia, how many combined full hours of sleep would you say you get during the night? 

On the worst insomnia nights, I get no more than two hours of sleep, and that’s usually in small increments of 15-20 minutes at a time. However, thankfully, those are rare. More often, my insomnia looks like tossing and turning for 1-2 hours before falling asleep, waking up 2-3 times for 15-20 minutes at a time throughout the night, and waking 2-3 hours earlier than I planned/want to be awake. That results in around 5 hours of sleep in a night, though it is disjointed and not usually very restful.

2. How does your lack of sleep affect your day-to-day activities? 

One of the hardest things about having insomnia is that it’s something that other people don’t see. This creates a deep frustration in me and feeling like I can’t operate at the energy and patience level that others do. I feel tired, groggy, and achy from the moment I get out of bed until I get back into it at the end of the day. Our bodies are created to need rest to a degree that my body is not receiving it, and I get so frustrated at myself because it seems like such a basic task that I am not able to fulfill each night. It’s challenging because most people are tired at one point or another throughout the day, and it gets old to complain about it and to ask for grace in my working and living. I have a hard time focusing and find myself forgetting things that I usually don’t. Overall, it becomes a vicious cycle of not sleeping and becoming anxious about not sleeping and that perpetuating the process.

3. Are there any ways to help prevent insomnia that you have tried over the years?

I have tried pretty much every different thing anyone has suggested in many attempts to rid myself of insomnia. I have tried natural supplements, tea, no caffeine, extra caffeine, working out, not working out, not eating after a certain time, drinking more water, drinking less water, praying, reading, meditating, yoga, different pillow, different temperatures in my room, watching movies, total darkness, etc. I am constantly asking for suggestions from others, and the hard part is that sometimes different things help on different nights and other times have no effect. It’s challenging when insomn

ia is inconsistent and unpredictable and seldom responds well to prevention/treatment.

4. In one word, how would you describe insomnia?



I have some great friends who often pray for me, and I am so thankful that this is something that is not a constant struggle for me, but is a pretty regular one. Thanks for reading! 


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