There was a time where I showed off my dark circles as if they were a badge of honour.
"I can sleep when I’m dead," I would say whenever anyone would tell me I needed to sleep more.
While most of the country was tucked away in bed, I was wide awake writing, working on assignments, or googling whatever random questions that popped up in my mind — there’s nothing quite like searching weird thoughts like ‘why do men have nipples?’ at 2am.
Side note: Here's how long you should nap for. Post continues below.
There were many nights where I would only get one hour of sleep, but often I averaged approximately four hours during my many years as a voluntary insomniac.
While working at a bookstore, my boss gifted me a copy of Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep. Looking back, this was definitely a subtle message that she thought I wasn’t sleeping enough rather than a random gift.
Thinking that I was about to learn some interesting facts about sleep and dreams, I was instead met with morbid evidence that I was slowly sending myself to an early grave.
According to Walker, sleeping less than six hours regularly obliterates your immune system, doubles your risk of getting cancer and puts you on the fast track towards cardiovascular disease, including congestive heart failure and stroke. Even one week’s worth of poor sleeping could lead to you being classified as pre-diabetic.
Easy. I could rectify this damage. All I needed to do was get more sleep.
Turns out I was wrong.
The years I spent not sleeping by choice led to me developing chronic insomnia and even if I was tired, falling asleep was proving to be extremely difficult — there wasn’t a sleepy-time tea in the world that could fix the mess I was in.
However, that didn’t stop me from trying just about every solution I could get my hands on — whether it was sleeping tablets prescribed by my doctor, four different teas, essential oils, a weighted blanket, various eye masks, meditation apps, or even listening to playlists featuring ocean waves and rainfall, I tried it all.
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