Over a year. That's how long it had been since I had been able to get a full night's sleep. Oh, sure, there was the occasional night, but no more than four straight hours on a regular basis.
I had tried everything. Exercise, but not too close to bedtime. Cut back on caffeine. Remove electronics from the bedroom. Hot baths, warm herbal tea, cooler temps. Prep the sleep space. Use the bedroom only for sleeping. Nap. Don't nap. Herbal supplement. Over the counter sleep aids. Massage therapy. Breathing exercises. Oh, the list was endless and nothing seemed to help.
Others would complain about their lack of sleep. But their moments were few and far between. How could something as simple as sleep elude me on a consistent basis? Why could others sleep and I couldn't ? What was I doing wrong? More importantly, what was wrong with me?
The problem--my mind. I couldn't turn it off. Every concern for my students, every worry about finances, every moment I could possibly second guess would come forward. They become voices in my head that would not be ignored. They made going to sleep a two hour process and loved to wake me up after only a few hours of sleep. The four hour night had become a luxury.
So I tried for over a year to find a way to silence these voices. But they were strong. Before starting another sleep deprived school year, I went to my doctor. She listened. She understood. She started me on a low dose medication. She gave me hope.
My doctor and I are still working together, but what a ride I am on! I now sleep, but experience anxiety dreams where my conscious mind actually tries to tell me the things my subconscious are showing me are not real. There have been morning where I wake up only to find that I have actually acted out parts of my dreams and moved items in my sleep. But, at least I'm sleeping on a semi-regular basis.
And I haven't taken for granted how lucky I am. I get to live in a time where it is ok to admit I need help. No one is going to judge me. No one is going to look down upon me. If anything, most people have commended me for seeking help. Their only question has been why I didn't do it sooner. I can't help but wonder the same thing.
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to wind down and get ready to get some sleep.