My Relationship with Sleep

My relationship with sleep has never been good. According to my parents, baby me didn’t even know what sleep was. In hindsight this was probably due to undiagnosed epilepsy. After all recent-ish EEGs have shown that my sleep is constantly being disturbed by irregular electrical activity.

As a kid I found it extremely difficult to get to sleep, I blame this on undiagnosed ASD, I just could never switch off. I also had the issue of being a bed-wetter, my mum says I don’t need to mention this but as someone who likes to be 100% honest about how my conditions affect me, I think I do. Nightmares were another issue, often spurred on by my younger sister switching the bathroom light off and whispering ‘Voldermort’ whilst I brushed my teeth. A recurring one was that my mum and I were in an airport or a shopping mall, she for some reason was in a wheelchair, I went to the toilet and when I came out she was rolling away and I couldn’t run after her. It once got so real I woke up screaming and when my dad came rushing in to check I wasn’t having a seizure I cried, ‘I want my mummy back’, he took me into their room to show me she was there and I went back to sleep.

Comic Strip Sleep 2.png

As soon as I hit puberty my internal clock just broke. As a child I thought 9pm was a late time to go to sleep from 13 (roughly) onwards 11pm became early. I had, however, by now discovered a way of actually getting to sleep when I wanted to: RADIO! Literally my saviour; it started with me borrowing my dad’s iPod and listening to podcasts and then actual live radio, I now use the BBC iPlayer app which is fab. It was a way of keeping me focussed enough that I couldn’t think too much but at the same time relaxed. It still took me roughly two hours to get to sleep each night and this became far more when I got to GCSEs. When stress reached max level, sleep reached minimum. One night I wasn’t asleep until gone 6am and I knew this because I heard Cbeebies Radio.

After leaving school getting to sleep seemed to become much easier, but without a bus to catch each day at 7:32am it became much harder to get up. I also became a very deep sleeper, able to sleep through countless shouts and nags.

Nowadays the biggest issue is motivation, I have to get myself in my PJs and in bed and then I have to get myself up and dressed again in the morning. Both are tasks which are much harder than they should be. I avoid sleep based on fears of tomorrow or sometimes seizures and not wanting to get up is often a sign that I’m feeling low. At the moment I’m finding myself constantly over heated, waking up every two hours or so and having long, creepy, vivid dreams every night. I never feel refreshed in the morning.

I will say over the years there have been many factors that have had some kind of role in this relationship including: medication, seizures and stress. With all these things constantly changing it’s impossible to tell what has what effect. I’m hoping I can eventually work it out and fix my internal clock, as otherwise I don’t think a full time job will ever be a viable option for me. This is obviously a concern but the way things are going it may not be for much longer (according to some of my course readings anyway). I do like sleep, I just wish sleep liked me.

PS. Let me know what you think of the mini comic strip, I’m hoping to illustrate a lot more of my written blogs so all feedback is highly appreciated!

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