2017 did not get off to the best start for me. Those first few days were great: we relaxed, visited friends and family, and then returned back to Leeds. I anticipated a small bout of jet lag, but never in my wildest nightmares did I anticipate an episode that would last 8+ days and eventually turn itself into acute insomnia.
It started off as expected. After an overnight flight where we dozed on and off, Dave and I arrived home in Leeds and immediately fell asleep. I knew I was supposed to stay awake as long as possible to readjust, but my brain and body had other plans; I just couldn’t fight the weight of my eyelids. I spent that first afternoon/evening back, dozing on and off on the couch, before staying up until 3 AM watching Homeland.
We both went back to work immediately. I thought this would help with the readjustment, and it did for a bit. We were going to bed late and waking up a little later than normal, but it wasn’t anything crazy.
Until it was.
Saturday I woke up early, puttered around for an hour or so and then fell back to sleep. Next thing I knew, we were waking up at 1:30 PM. Shocked, we vowed to kerb this behaviour and set the alarm so we could actually accomplish something on Sunday.
Sunday we were groggy, but I pushed through the tiredness as it would be temporary and within a few days I’d be back on track. Or, so I thought.
Over the next few days, I struggled to sleep through the night. After easily falling asleep, I found myself waking up and hour or two later, full of energy. I’d spend the next few hours tossing and turning, reading and counting sheep, in the hopes that I would fall back to sleep with enough time before the alarm to make it worth it.
As the week wore on, I watched the circles under my eyes darken and my face drain of colour. Exhaustion is not a good look for me.
I was desperate for a full night’s sleep. I did research. I ate certain foods while avoiding others. I tried to identify what could potentially be weighing on me and keeping me awake (this was frustrating as the only thing I felt stressed about was not sleeping) and wrote them down to free my mind. I exposed myself to sunlight at specific times. I even tried wearing sunglasses inside to trick my brain into thinking it was sleep time.
I followed all the rules, and when that didn’t work, I ignored all the rules.
It seemed as though nothing was going to help. So, I gave into insomnia.
When I found myself awake in the middle of the night, I’d turned on my iPhone torch and I’d read. I quietly turned pages, trying not to disturb Dave, and let my mind escape into Bill Bryson’s adventures. If I couldn’t sleep, I could at least enjoy those moments and live vicariously through someone else’s adventures.
Slowly, as the nights wore on I started to sleep a little more until finally, one night I closed my eyes and didn’t wake up again until the following morning.
Who knew seven consecutive hours could make one petite so happy?!
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Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com