My key personal learning is that when I understood more about sleep I gave up unrealistic goals. I stopped unhealthy and excessive stressing (well, at least on most days), learned to let my anger and anxiety go, and to better handle the triggers which resulted in my poor sleep. I started to seek life-balance, set up my own sleep toolbox and made choices that led to higher peace of mind and enjoyment of life. My sleep has improved gradually, yet steadily. I now sleep well most nights and know better why disaster nights happen and how to prevent them from reoccurring.
I have been a sensitive sleeper since my student years and poor sleep really got worse in my early 30s when several upheavals happened in my life simultaneously. I do believe sensitivity towards sleep is something that is in some ways part of me for the rest of my life. However I no longer think poor sleep defines or cripples me. During the past year I have understood so much more about sleep, stopped fighting against it, partly tamed the ‘evil monster’ and now mostly view myself as a recovering insomniac. Party nights (ah, such a rare luxury), stress, travelling, summer light, snoring, house guests, a racing mind, pigeons on the roof and worries certainly keep me easily awake. However, I do recognize the signs much faster and know how to get back on a healthy sleep track better.
People tend to describe me as a strong, driven and energetic person. I am sure these are all pretty great assets but high drive has also meant that I rush and run through the days and my brain starts dissolving problems and remembering things to do when I rest, which is at night. Understandably, this is not good news for me. A high drive persona has also meant that I get excessively enthusiastic about just everything: new people, new ideas, new work, new stuff and you just name it. So I have lost sleep not only when something stressful is worrying me, but also when something exciting is happening to me. Sometimes I just can’t wait for the next day to arrive! I am also rather routine-driven meaning that even in my younger days I didn’t have the ability to sleep into reserve (how I envy those people!) and always wake up around the same time regardless of when I go to bed. It goes without saying that there seems to be something in my genes too. Many of my close family members are sensitive sleepers. It runs in the family…
I dare to say that I have gone through nearly everything. I have been through over 12 years of very poor sleep more or less. I have tried all possible medicine and other stuff in my desperation. I realized recently that I have to drop all medicines and unhealthy props, make some serious lifestyle changes, learn new habits, let go old ones and rediscover the confidence and trust in myself. For me, this meant several things and my tool box is still under work, but I am progressing and this good progress makes me grateful and optimistic. This journey is something I want to share with other sensitive sleepers and I welcome other sensitive sleepers to share their learning!
About my background. I don’t think that my life has ever been very ‘stable’ or ‘simple’. I was born in Finland and besides Finland I have also studied, lived and worked in Sweden, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK where I currently live with my family. I have a Masters of Social Sciences degree (major in communications/journalism) and had a long career in corporate life and consulting with demanding responsibilities. I dare to say that I know a thing or two about stress and juggling between personal and work lives.
Everybody is shouting about the latest ‘correct’ treatment (89% success rate) or product (113 % success rate) that will rescue your sleep over night. My top tip is to you is to learn to listen to yourself and test and find your own way. There are as many causes as there are right treatments. Friedrich Nietzsche puts it nicely: “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way and the only way, it does not exist.”
Yours, a sensitive sleeper,