Daily Tip to Help Relieve Stress

When you have insomnia, you do not JUST have insomnia. You have built up anxiety and bubbling stress. As you go about your life on the minimal amount of sleep that is humanly possible (or technically shouldn’t be), everyday tasks become five times harder. As I am trying to remember the thought that I had 30 mins ago that was too precious to forget but alas it has escaped your mind forever, my stress comes and takes its place.

 

Over the years I have tested many types of de-stress tactics:

Drink milk: tried and yuck

Drink tea: worse than the milk

Meditate as you lay down: too stressed to be that blessed

 

And the list goes on and on. . . However, while randomly scrolling through Facebook at 4 a.m., I found a video that actually helped and so I hope it helps you to.

 

Bear with me, it may sound weird but it does work. Here is what you do:

  1. Relax your right hand, palm facing up
  2. With your left hand, grab you thumb and gently pull up for 1-2 mins
  3. Continue to do #2 on your pointer finger, middle finger and so on
  4. Push your left thumb into your right palm for 1-2 mins

 

Boom. Stress has decreased and you can go about your business. Let me know if this worked for you!

Insomnia vs. Hypersomnia: Yes You Can Have Both

What is insomnia? Well for starters, there are two branches. First, there is Acute insomnia. When someone has Acute insomnia, they are only temporarily affected by the inability to sleep. The reason for the short sleep disruption is due to high levels of stress. An example could be that there is an exam coming up, job loss, or money problems.

First, there is Acute insomnia. When someone has Acute insomnia, they are only temporarily affected by the inability to sleep. The reason for the short sleep disruption is due to high levels of stress. An example could be that there is an exam coming up, job loss, or money problems.

Back when I only suffered from Acute insomnia, I found it extremely helpful to make lists. I would always carry around a pad of paper to scribble on, so whenever I got anxiety, I could make lists of what I had to do and how much time I needed to do it. Although the times were always off, it was nice to be able to see that the tasks ahead of me were doable. I recommend this planner by DayMinder as it is the one I used and still use to this day.

Second, there is Chronic insomnia. An individual has chronic insomnia when sleep disruption happens three or more times a week and goes on for three months or more. Chronic insomnia is difficult to treat, as it can be due to the environment, the individual’s own bad sleeping habits, or from other clinical disorders.

I currently suffer from Chronic insomnia and have yet to find a “cure.” I still make lists on the daily, but the lack of sleep is not longer just because of stress. This fact is the most difficult for people to understand. When I am going on a week of only 10 hours of sleep total, I am not lying awake at night due to anxiety (to clarify, there are some nights that I am a ball of anxiety), but rather it can be a numb feeling.Your body turns off, but your mind refuses to, and do to this, your body lays there in confusion.

 

So what is Hypersomnia? Hypersomnia is excessive daytime sleepiness where the person usually passes out for more than 10 hours. About once a month I have Hypersomnia. The first few times, I believe I scared my roommates half to death because these episodes could last days. The longest I have slept for is about 48 hours. However, during these times of extreme sleeping, it does not feel like you are sleeping long. For me, it is like your body has completely shut off. Not hibernation. Just off. You wake up and its like you didn’t even sleep as you’re still exhausted.

 

I hope this gave you some insight on the different degrees of sleep disorders, make sure to comment if you have tips or questions.

Sleep Deprivation: Effects on the Mind

In a few posts before (Oh, the Places We Go! and The Mind on E), I have discussed personal accounts of what sleep deprivation does to my mind. This post is going to focus more on the data collected and facts on sleep deprivation.

Like the effects on the body, sleep deprivation has grave consequences on one’s mind. For starters, lack of sleep slows down thought processes. As your thinking starts to slow, so does your decision making and judgment. Insomniacs are put at a severe disadvantage as they have trouble concentrating, but even more so go about their lives on a daily risk of not being alert enough to function in times of crises. Statistically speaking, this correlates to 20% of crashes being due to the driver fatigue as driving sleep deprived is like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%.

Sleep deprivation also causes memory loss. As insomniacs are fighting to function properly during the day, the mind tends to not focus on the small details. Most days I cannot recall what I had for breakfast or even if I had breakfast.  The reason for this is that lack of sleep causes a decrease in blood flow and metabolism in some parts of the brain. Additionally, lack of sleep hinders the brain’s function of clearing out toxins, making insomniacs more susceptible to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

As someone who has insomnia, these facts are more than alarming, they are terrifying. The reason why they are terrifying is that there is nothing that we can do about it. To those without a sleep disorder, it may seem like a simple fix: get more sleep, have fewer problems. However, insomnia has a unique effect on the mind, where it feels that there are wires set up to jolt your brain when you try to sleep. So we can’t be scared into sleeping, only scared into seeing how the data and facts collected are connecting to our experiences. As I watch my grandfather slip further and further away from us (due to Alzheimer’s), I wonder when that statistic will intertwine with my life.

Sleep Deprivation: Effects on the Body

As if being forced to stay awake beyond your control wasn’t bad enough, insomniacs also have to deal with the repercussions of sleep deprivation. Our poor bodies get abused, and there is nothing that we can do to fix it. Sleep is our bodies way of recuperating from the day and rest up for the stressors of tomorrow. When someone does not sleep their body cannot reboot. For this reason, around 90% of people who suffer from insomnia have another health condition they deal with.  For example, as I type this post at 3:30 am, my heart randomly goes into fits where it flutters, and I struggle to catch my breath. The older I get, the worse this condition gets. 

To give you an idea of how serious sleep deprivation is, here are some of the most common conditions that result: 

Heart disease

Heart attack 

Heart failure 

Irregular heartbeat

Stroke

Diabetes 

But beyond health conditions that can form, there are daily implications of sleep deprivation on the body. The best way to describe it is to imagine you’re forced to walk in quicksand that gets deeper and deeper till you can no longer move. 

//giphy.com/embed/Qw4X3FMPf0xxtLjwcnK

via GIPHY

Your muscles tense up and get weak. Your stomach is in constant knots. You experience random sharp pains in your head as your brain revolts against you. And as you finally feel yourself falling asleep, you feel a jolt that keeps the process going.

 

Insomniac in the City

All an insomniac wants to do is fall asleep, but there are some nights where your body becomes just as restless as your mind. Luckily for me, I live in the “City That Never Sleeps” and can wander when I start to feel this way, whether it be at 3 p.m. or 3 a.m. In this short video, I wanted to display how a night like this looks and feels. These walks are meant to be isolating as no thought process goes into them. The overall goal is to help clear the mind so that hopefully the restlessness fades away. In this clip, I take you on an average evening, reversed in the video from a little past midnight to around 5 p.m., of aimlessly walking on less than a handful of hours of sleep.

Shown are some of my favorite places to go to in the Financial District:

One World Trade Center

WTC Oculus

Brookfield Place

Staten Island Ferry

What Insomniacs Anonymous Is All About

Recently I have read 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, by Darren Rowse. The book promises to give 31 tools of knowledge to make a blog more concrete but more importantly he tells you how to implement the knowledge provided. Overall, I found Rowse’s tips to be helpful in how to make a blog unique and fruitful. While reading, I got the idea to state his thoughts and describe how I am implementing them so that my readers can get a better grasp on what my blog offers.

Rowse starts off with building an elevator pitch for your blog. For those who do not know, an elevator pitch is a few short and sharp sentences that wrap up what your blog is about to entice the person you are giving the pitch to.

My elevator pitch is simple:

Insomniacs Anonymous is a guide to help people understand an insomniac’s life. My goal is to provide you with a specialized insight on how an insomniac thinks and acts (myself) so that you can encourage and understand a loved one or yourself better.

The next task Rowse believes to be important is to write a list post. List posts allow bloggers to spread their information further by providing short excerpts of multiple posts in a neat and enticing fashion. I believe this to be important too as it allows readers to skim and see which posts will be most beneficial to them without being bogged down by irrelevant information. I have completed a list post here to help guide my readers through my first three blog posts.

Rowse’s third chapter covers how to promote a blog efficiently. I find his points insightful on how to go about promoting. Just as a business selects a product to promote to its audience, so should bloggers. The point is not to promote the entire blog, but specific posts so that the audience can visually see what the blog is about.

Chapter four tells the blogger to study a top blog that is like your topic. The reason is this important is that it allows the blogger to see what works with their competitor’s posts, what topics they find relevant, and most importantly what topics they are missing. Rowse mentions something that I find important, “maintain the focus on your own blog.” In a world of competition, it is easy to get trapped in the cycle of copying a competitor’s tactics to stay relevant, but the purpose of having your own blog is to be unique and separate yourself from others.

From my research, I have found that the online community for insomnia is small. There have been quite a few helpful blogs, but they have been neglected for years. My goal is to tie in the best aspects of the blogs long forgotten and build up a community for insomniacs and their loved ones.

Last, a blog needs to stay up to date on the latest news in their topic. With insomnia, this may include helpful tips to sleep. It is important for me to note that my goal for this blog is not to fix sleeping behavior, but to help understand it. I will use personal experience as well as information others have found to provide the latest understandings of insomnia.

I hope this post gives you a better understanding of my reasoning behind my posts and the overall blog.

Oh, The Places We Go!

maxresdefault.jpg

Recently, I hit a point where I thought the world was moving like a fun house at the circus. Now to help you understand better, I will lay out some context.

At my college, it is currently midterms month.  I am the go to for a group of over 30 girls to come and get help with classes and strategize over academics. During midterms week, they all remember at once that I am a resource to help their struggling grades. With that said, even with my inability to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night, I was still struggling to keep up with the extra workload.

To accommodate the added work, my blissful 3 hours of sleep started to become only 2 or less. Now, this may not seem that bad, as it is only losing about an hour a night. However, this is like having a plastic bag with a hole and then making it a slightly bigger hole. Soon, the bag is going to be depleted of its resources.

A few nights ago, my mind hit a full on mental break. Luckily, it was entertaining to my roommate. It was around 1 a.m. as I was getting off the elevator to my floor when the walls started to move.

url.jpg

***Shout out to my apartment building for putting in wallpaper that looks like this just to mess with people with sleep deprivation.

By the time I reached my couch, my legs felt numb, and I couldn’t get back up. However, I was not concerned as I was too busy having laughing fits over nothing. The next thing I recall in getting up around 4 a.m. with multiple Snapchats from my roommate. Apparently, when I am very sleep deprived I become the happiest person, as these videos showed whenever my roomie played her music, I would start “dancing” while I was sleeping.

Needless to say, cutting back just an hour of sleep can do quite a bit of harm to my mental state. Thank goodness for technology being able to save the events that happen once the clock strikes midnight.

The Mind on E

imgres.jpg

I hate feeling tired, but I also dislike the need for sleep.

It may sound crazy to read “dislike” and “sleep” in the same sentence but here me out. When you are driving your car, you don’t get instantly happy when you see that your gas tank is on E now do you? It means that your car is going stop providing its basic functions if you do not refuel fairly quickly. It is the same scenario when I have reached the E on my fuel tank. Just like your car, it is never at a time that is convenient. It is always a day where the rain is coming down like a waterfall, you’re late to an important event, or your miles from the closest destination to fuel back up.

Yet the fuel tank does not care what situation you are in. So I’ll be sitting is a class that I paid $500 for and my mind goes blank. This is also always the exact time the professor decides to call on me, yet I cannot focus. I hear the words, but my brain will not start back up. So I quietly apologize for the lack of knowledge and wait for the class to end. I get home, lay down, and BOOM: my eyes are still open.

My mind is on E yet my body sits in idle for hours or days on end. For this reason, I dislike the need for sleep, as insomnia acts as a barrier to prevent such need from being met.

Symptoms of Insomnia: What is it Like Not to Be Able to Sleep?

507293ed8e855c3a553625fa06fca9ca_superwoman-clipart-clipart-super-woman_1600-1243

In a culture of quick fixes to stay awake, it is almost assumed that the symptoms of insomnia, that is surviving off the absolute minimal amount of sleep, is an advantage. When others are accomplishing nothing as they sleep, you monster-drink-ads-11th.jpgcan get ahead of the game. Slogans like “Red Bull gives you wings, ” and Monster Energy’s “Release the Beast” are polluting our minds that staying up is a “superpower.”

However, the prime time I see the ads for these energy drinks is when it is past 3 a.m., on Hulu, after I’ve accepted the fact I won’t sleep. So, to be clear, just because someone does not sleep does not mean they are productive. Most nights I wish I could use insomnia to my advantage and channel my inner Beyonce to get stuff done. Yet, the difference between Beyonce and me is that insomnia symptoms keep me from getting well rested.

Sleep is the ultimate “superpower” for humans. With sleep comes natural energy, not energy at the cost of accelerated heart beats. When I first started my journey with insomnia, I was around 13 years old and was playing soccer. I was going on 2 days without sleep and decided that 5 Hour Energy would give me the power to get through practice. As a result, at 13 years old I almost had a heart attack as extreme sleep deprivation, large consumptions of caffeine, and exercise does not mesh well together. So to answer the question “what is it like to not be able to sleep?” is simple: it is as mentally exhausting as it is physically exhausting.

You want to be like Queen B (as the slogan goes, “you have the same 24 hours a day as Beyonce”), but your mind is so bogged down that you feel you can’t move. Yet, at the same time, it is racing through thoughts at all speeds, and you don’t feel mentally strong enough to silence them. You wish for sleep, but sleep does not come. The best analogy to describe the symptoms of insomnia is to think of a car stuck in park as the driver stomps on the gas pedal. The wheels are spinning, yet the overall subject is not moving. Smoke forms until the subject finally breaks.

So the next time you see your insomniac of a friend/family member/loved one, try to restrain from saying we need to get sleep. We love that you’re concerned about our well-being, but trust me that sleep is our set destination point, we just got a little turned around. Don’t fret, though, we will get there, and no I will not ask for directions.