When Your Brain is the Sleep Monster

I never had trouble falling asleep until my last year of high school. Suddenly, the compounding stress of exams, work, and college applications got to me. My brain stopped being able to turn off, and I saw my first involuntary sunrise. 

Perhaps the worst phase of my insomnia journey was discovering melatonin and sleeping pills. This caused me to develop a whole other kind of anxiety: What if the pills run out? Why is my body fighting the melatonin so hard? I knew my drug dependency was not a sustainable solution, so I reluctantly signed up for the r/insomnia community on Reddit to find more support. 

Reddit turned out to be a surprise, but in the most counterproductive way. We found humour in our situation, and started late night threads to see who else was up. The same tips were repeated of limiting screen time and getting your dose of Vitamin D. Not that I didn’t try to live a healthier lifestyle, I just also lived in 2016 with a remote job and loved to watch reality TV. 

Then came the wave of meditation apps like Headspace and Calm. I still highly recommend them for relaxing your body and falling asleep. Headspace had a library filled with content, but its quirky British narrator distracted me. Not to mention my ‘health and wellness’ friends told me I’ve missed the point of meditating completely. Calm is still my favorite when it comes to a simple 5 minute body scan. I really should remember to use it more instead of rewriting imaginary convos in my head. 

I liked the idea of a weighted blanket. I love being cozy under a million layers. But my god, these blankets were heavy. It’s like the pressure of three toddlers sitting on me, obstructing my lungs. Unless you’re easily claustrophobic like me, I think this one is worth a try for giving your body that extra sense of security. 

I did finally discover my antidote, if it counts: pets. Having to care for my two huskies physically exhausts me every day, and cuddling with them at night helps relax me too. If you aren’t in the position to own dogs, maybe try cuddling a loved one. Apparently, our bodies relax when we’re physically in contact with those who care for us. It’s definitely healthier than the weed gummies and wine combo. We’ve all had those moments, so I’m not judging — just encouraging us on this path to try to find something that will finally slay the dreaded sleep monster once and for all. 

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