Can’t Sleep?

Like clockwork, I’m woken up early every single morning. The sirens of a wailing baby resound like the morning trumpet in a dystopian bootcamp. Any peace I had so nearly grasped in my dreams vanishes in my palms, and my ears ache to the alarms of reality. I am awake; I did not have the luxury of sleeping in, and I am frustrated, discouraged, and at the end of my rope. It’s a good thing that kid is so darn cute.

Ask any new parent; sleep is precious. Once your Sleeping Beauty slumber is interrupted by the shaking walls of an angry baby, and no one in the house can even blink, much more nod off for a moment unless he allows it, sleep becomes a commodity for which we all start fighting like beggars over crumbs of a Subway footlong. But, sleeplessness is something with which I was familiar long before I became a dad. For years, a different siren kept me up at night.

Sleep Deficiency And Depression

If you’re sleep deprived, it might be sign you’re a parent (better figure that one out if you haven’t yet). Sleep deficiency could also be a sign of depression, anxiety, or being overly stressed. Often, those victim to such mental difficulties cannot sleep a full night, and other times they sleep too much. Too little or too much sleep could be a sign of a deeper issue.

My experience is that when I am in a rut of depression or anxiety, I sleep less, but I want to stay in bed more. I cannot find the peace needed for slumber nor the motivation needed to get out of bed, so I whirl awake in the solace of my room.

Even before my son came home from the hospital, I had trouble staying asleep. Either I would pop awake in the middle of the night to the nagging call of anxiety or depression would lurk beside my bed like a deranged sad-clown poking me incessantly. One night, with eyes wider than the range of the internet, I wrote this poem that I think captures the feeling of sleeplessness well:

If it were any quieter I’d think I was dead

Save for the ramblings roaming my head

Lying awake I sleep in my bed

Questions haunting my rest.

How Important Is Good Sleep?

Sleep is vital to our mental and physical health, so it is definitely worth fighting for. The National Heart, Blood, And Lung Institute sums it up this way:

“The damage from sleep deficiency can occur in an instant (such as a car crash), or it can harm you over time. For example, ongoing sleep deficiency can raise your risk for some chronic health problems. It also can affect how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.”

If you’re struggling to find sleep, you might be depressed, anxious, or overly stressed. Make the effort to prioritize some shut-eye. Perhaps that means finally addressing your mental health head on through seeking professional help. Or maybe just small practical steps would be beneficial. Try drinking chamomile tea before bed, limiting caffeine, wearing ear plugs, getting a sound machine, or committing to no screens in the bedroom. Whatever the remedy, it will be worth it to improve your dream time.

All that said, if you’re a new parent, hold on, and just try to survive.

Have thoughts in that brain of yours? Comment below, email me, Tweet me, or pigeon mail me. Thanks!


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