Every individual has their own unique biological internal clock; some of us are early birds, some of us are night owls. Society, as a whole, has always favored the lifestyle of an early bird over the lifestyle of a night owl. Why? One argument is that life, from kindergarten to college to your career, takes course during the daytime.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that insomnia is caused by a series of conditions ranging from psychiatric and medical, to anxiety, depression, and eating patterns. The inability of your brain to stop being awake brings about many daily struggles that those suffering from insomnia know to be true.
Here are 9 daily struggles only people with insomnia will understand.
9. You always feel in debt
No, not financial debt, sleep debt. According to Sudhansu Chokroverty, professor and co-director of Nurology at the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center, the average adult owes their body between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Not surprisingly, this number is higher than the number of hours the average adult is actually receiving every night, which is believed to be 7 hours or less. Research notes that leading frantic lifestyles with the pace of modern life are key components of sleep deprivation.
8. Your alarm clock is your worst enemy
Surprise! One of the biggest reasons for the decrease in our quality of sleep is our addiction to smartphones, laptops, and tablets. Daily usage of electronics (especially before sleep) are perhaps the single biggest factor contributing to our collective sleep problems. Electronic devices emit blue light rays, which essentially trick our brains into thinking it is daytime, thus making it harder for our brains to ‘turn off’ at night. Numerous research studies have pointed to blue light rays disrupting our sleep-wake cycles, while other studies suggest that this artificial light may even cause cataracts and other eye diseases related to retinal damage down the road as we age.
7. Your brain keeps telling you how much sleep you COULD be getting
You set your alarm at night so you will be up in nine hours; “Great!” you think. You toss and turn, fiddle with some apps, get some water, check your alarm again, and see you now need to be up in six hours. Aggravated, you toss and turn some more, and before you know it, you now need to be up in three hours. Your brain keeps telling you every few minutes when you need to be up as if it doesn’t acknowledge you have an important day in the morning.
6. The mere thought of tomorrow’s plans give you enough anxiety to prevent you from getting a solid nights sleep
People with insomnia know that just the idea of having to do a couple errands, having to take an exam you are fully prepared for, or even having a dentist appointment the following day, can and will keep you up thinking all hours of the night. Insomniacs will lay there for hours upon hours and just visualize how the day will pan out, what they will wear, what they will say, etc. etc.
5. You’re awake, but your thought process is asleep during the most crucial hours of the day
The picture below describes this feeling better than words ever could. People with insomnia know that their brain doesn’t seem to want to “think” until 9PM or later. People with insomnia will procrastinate their homework assignments, house chores, and other tasks until the nighttime when they are mentally prepared and ready to do it.
4. Medication does not work
You’ve tried it all – melatonin, Ambien, Xanax, even PM pain relievers and they just don’t work. On top of that, medication makes you feel daytime sleepiness, drowsiness, and irritability that you never had prior to taking medications. You’ve even tried to cut-out other prescription drug medication not related to insomnia because you feel those to could be interfering with your sleep schedule.
3. Morning people will never understand
As mentioned earlier, society as a whole has always favored early birds over night owls. Part of this has to do with life taking place during the daytime hours, while part of this has to do with night owls carrying a “lazy” stigma for needing to be asleep while others are getting ready for school and work. People with insomnia have heard time and time again early birds saying “well, well, well, look who is still sleeping” making this tweet so relatable.
2. You’re consuming more fatty foods
A study from last year found that skipping out on a single night of sleep can shift your brain activity enough to spark a desire to consume more fatty foods the following day. The study suggests that sleep deprivation alters the function of the brain’s ‘salience network’, which is responsible for guiding decision-making, interpreting emotions, sensory perception, and mental strategizing.
1. You can’t escape blue light rays
A random survey of 1,5000 adults from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, U.K., and Japan conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that at least two-thirds of people in all five countries surveyed watched TV in the hour before bed while more than half used a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
As mentioned in point #8, blue light rays projected from our smartphones, computers, and laptops trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Unfortunately for insomniacs living in the ‘notification generation’, it’s nearly impossible to not check your smartphone for a late night email, text message, or Instagram notification while laying there wide-awake in bed. Furthermore, it has become the norm for us living in modern times to check our phones one last time before we lay our heads for bed despite research strongly suggesting that in order to fully unwind, we must begin to turn our eyes away from computers and smartphones around the evening time.