- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Faithless Insomnia; Need Help Sleeping?
I Struggle With Insomnia. . .
Insomnia is a condition that prevents people from falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. It's a condition I have struggled with throughout my late teens until today. Episodes of insomnia can be short term (lasting a week or so), short term recurring (coming and going in short term bursts throughout the year), or chronic. I suffer from a chronic condition of insomnia that I have found difficult to treat due to various reasons that I will later on explain.
Insomnia is believed to be caused by experiencing toxic environments. These toxic environments shaped the development and habits of individuals who suffer from insomnia. Indeed, overcoming insomnia can prove to be a rather tall order because in past (and current) situations; the insomnia may have served the individual's survival.
Here is some environments people experience that greatly increases your chances to become an insomniac:
- Fighting a war
- Being homeless
- Being imprisoned
- Being hospitalized for an extended period of time
- Having to work in jobs requiring inconsistent shifts
- Having to work jobs that make strong use of either mental or physical impulsiveness and stimulus
- Working dangerous jobs
- Being subjected to a lot of abuse either in the past or the present. Such as being bullied a lot as a child, dealing with an abusive parent or spouse, etc.
- An employment history that's inconsistent (i.e. constantly changing jobs, being in and out of employment).
- Having a life history of constantly changing income brackets/classes
In all the listed environments, it doesn't take a genius to understand how insomnia could prove necessary, perhaps even beneficial. In such environments, an alert light sleeper stands a better chance of seeing the next day come to pass than a person who sleeps heavily.
Subsequently, poor sleep or lifestyle habits may develop causing the insomnia to get much worse:
- Going to bed at different times each night
- Daytime napping
- Poor sleeping environment, such as too much noise or light
- Spending too much time in bed while awake
- Not getting enough exercise
- Using the television, computer, or smartphone in bed
The use of some medications and drugs may also affect sleep:
- Alcohol or other drugs
- Heavy smoking
- Too much caffeine, especially late in the day
- Getting used to certain types of sleep medications
- Some cold medications and diet pills
- Other medicines, herbs, or supplements prescribed by a health care provider or bought on your own.
There are several uncomfortable symptoms that arise from insomnia. I often have trouble getting to sleep every night. I can feel restless during the day. There are times I feel physically weak. I rarely feel refreshed when I wake up; I always feel I "just need to sleep a couple of more hours." I always find myself waking up from my slumber due to dubious reasons; such as getting a glass of water, going to the bathroom, or simply writing down a thought that came to me during my sleep.
Overcoming Insomnia. . .
I've learned that you can never truly overcome insomnia. The best defense is to "make peace with insomnia." It's ironic that the more you try to fight insomnia; the worse the symptoms become. I have come to the conclusion that in the long run insomnia cannot be fought by willpower or medical treatment. Indeed, the more you try to force yourself to sleep; the more you tend to contemplate how you seemingly can't go to sleep. The result is hours can past without a moment’s notice while you're busy battling with yourself. The frustration can prove relentless; the rage can become endless. Once you start reciting in your head, "go to sleep damnit," you know you're finished. You won't sleep the entire night.
Insomnia can't be fought; like many things in life, you have to grow to accept it. Even if you come up with a solution; the solution can be easily taken away. Many methods to relieve the symptoms of insomnia have a dependency factor. Dependency more often than not can prove to be a dangerous. For example, there was a particular herb I took once that worked miracles for my insomnia called Gotu Kola.
Gotu Kola has been used to treat a number of conditions for thousands of years in India, China, and Indonesia. It was used to heal wounds, improve mental clarity, and treat skin conditions such as leprosy and psoriasis. Some people use it to treat respiratory infections such as colds, and it was used for that in the past in China. It has been called "the fountain of life" because legend has it that an ancient Chinese herbalist lived for more than 200 years as a result of taking Gotu Kola.
When I took Gotu Kola, I found I was able to sleep for no more than five to six hours, but I felt better rested after those five to six hours. In contrast to the past when I would sleep anywhere from seven to ten hours and still feel tired. If I slept less, I for the most part woke up as a zombie. I discovered Gotu Kola helped me a great deal mentally. I could almost feel the herb working it's magic; allowing the two poles of my brain to communicate a little more effectively. My creativity, which often worked against me in a westernized corporate world, was suddenly my greatest asset. I could use it in application to the corporate and academic madness in a way I simply couldn't have comprehended beforehand. For the first time in my life I tasted some academic success.
All that changed when the government removed the product from the store shelves and condemned the product as illegal due to its "addictive properties." The dependency factor subsequently came rather harshly. My first year off Gotu Kola was complete hell. Filled with binge eating, chronic fatigue, uncontrollable adrenaline, and my hair starting to gray despite being in my mid 20's due to sheer stress alone.
From this day forward, I've learned that if you're dependant on grabbing an item off the store shelf in order to survive, especially an item of controversial nature that isn't blessed by the mainstream community, you're an addict. Perhaps a justified addict in my case, but an addict none the less, and it's a dangerous life-line to cling onto.
For now I accept my insomnia as both a blessing and a curse. Much of my writing material here on Hubpages comes from by bouts with insomnia. It takes a certain madness to sit down on your butt and write a 500+ page book. This is a skill of both dedication and mental discipline that very few have; and that I doubt I could pull off without having insomnia. From now on my treatments of insomnia consists of having two baths a day, listening to music, and writing down every single insomniac thought until the point of exhaustion. I figure that at the end of the day; having a disease that incentivises you to become more hygienic and a better writer than most people isn't the end of the world.
Still, while I'm no doctor, I recommend those who are down and out give Gotu Kola a try; provided it's legal in your nation. The herb is affordable; it costs me no more than five dollars for fifty tablets. Besides, I believe the only reason why the product was banned from Canada in the first place was due to politicians protecting their pharmaceutical donors rather than legitimate medical concerns. For me Gotu Kola kept the blessing, but removed the curse. Just don’t grow too dependent on the herb; and realize at any time it can be taken away.
-Donovan D. Westhaver