I often see/hear people casually reference being an insomniac and I often wonder. Are they exaggerating? Is this like when people call themselves crazy but they’re actually not? Because I honestly do not understand how people live life to any functioning degree without sleep.
Seriously. I don’t understand it.
I’ve had periods in my life where I’ve gotten too little sleep. I definitely handled it better in my younger/college years. But for the most part, from age 30 onward, my ability to function decreases exponentially for every hour of sleep I go without over the course of a week. I need at least 7 hours per night to function at a “normal” level. If I get only 6, my decrease in function is still survivable but there’s noticeable deterioration to those who know me well. If I only get 5, the deterioration is such that people who only casually know me, still notice a functional difference. If I get 4 or less? Strangers see me as someone struggling to live life.
And if this goes on for more than one night? It’s apparent to everyone I come into contact with that there’s something wrong with me. My language deteriorates, my word selection is 50% wrong, and my emotions are unmanageable. I say things like, “I need to go to the mall to buy a power cord,” when I really mean, “I need to go to Target for milk.” And then I’ll cry over the mistake.
How does a person who is honestly an insomniac live their life? How do they get work done? How do Moms of new babies go back to work at 6 weeks? I did it but it WAS NOT PRETTY. I remember very clearly how not pretty it was. This is why I nursed my kids in bed with me during the night when a lot of professionals tell you not to do that…BECAUSE MY NEED FOR SLEEP WAS GREATER THAN MY FEAR OF BAD OUTCOMES FROM CO-SLEEPING AND NURSING AT THE SAME TIME.
It was become a Boobcifier (my name for myself as a person who simply stuck my boob in my baby’s mouth every time the woke up) – or become so incapable of functioning like a normal adult that I might lose my job or become committed to a medical institution.
THAT IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION.
I am BAD with no sleep and so when I meet people who only get 4 hours per night or who call themselves insomniacs I want to probe them to see…WHAT MAKES THEM DIFFERENT FROM ME? How do they DRIVE even without sleep? That’s something I noticed on my 6 months driving back and forth to TN to help my Mom, if I’m too tired? My driving reflexes falter and I pull over and sleep at the nearest rest stop.
I’m just amazed that people exist who can still live their lives without adequate sleep. It’s dangerous for me in many different ways. I look at those people like they have superpowers.