Tuesday 14 July 2015

Being A Night Owl.

insomnia: ɪnˈsɒmnɪə/Submit. 
habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep.
synonyms: sleeplessness, wakefulness, restlessness; inability to sleep; archaicwatchfulness
"Anna was suffering from anxiety and insomnia"

If you don't follow me on twitter you probably won't know that I have been awake a lot lately due to having insomnia and it got to the point where I didn't reply to anyone on social media or on my mobile for about four days because I left so low.  Within the four days I've gotten a lot of questions asking why I'm awake all the time, what's caused insomnia, what's it like to have insomnia etc so I thought I would do a little personal blog post and explain about it.

I have been suffering on and off with insomnia for years because of certain side effects to medications, but this time I've been suffering from it since November 2014. 
In November last year I received a steroid injection which helps with my RA pain (and helps with my UC pain too!) and because it was winter and the stress of Phil and my wedding I was in a lot of pain, so much so that I was using my wheelchair all the time - even in the house! So I made a hospital appointment to see my amazing professor and he decided that I should have another steroid injection. I was happy about this because I know that they really help me. 

The main problem I find with medication is although it clears one thing up, a lot of the time it will cause another thing because of the medication reacting to your body causing side effects, in many causes for me these side effects can be; horrendous toothache, headaches, migraines, joint point, stomach pains, vivid nightmares, mood swings, eye pain, osteoporosis, and insomnia. Overall the side effects over the past 20-something years, I prefer insomnia. 

If you don't know what insomnia is or you've never heard of it before insomnia is difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep for long enough to feel refreshed the next morning, even though you've had enough opportunity to sleep. Most people experience problems sleeping at some point in their life. It's thought that a third of people in the UK have episodes of insomnia. It tends to be more common in women and more likely to occur with age. It's difficult to define what normal sleep is because everyone is different. Your age, lifestyle, environment and diet all play a part in influencing the amount of sleep you need. The most common symptoms of insomnia are: difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, waking up early in the morning, feeling irritable and tired and finding it difficult to function during the day.

Few people experience an allergic reaction to cortisone injections because cortisone is a naturally occurring substance in the body. In some instances, the cortisone may crystallize and cause excruciating pain in the area, but this is rare. Other side effects include some irritation around the sight of the injection and insomnia. 
So why does it cause insomnia? If cortisone reduces inflammation, why would a side effect keep a person awake? The adrenal glands are responsible for regulating the fight or flight response in the body. As too much stress can keep the body awake by exhausting the adrenal glands, so too can an injection of cortisone. This side effect keeps the body awake and the mind stimulated. 

So that's it, I am stuck with this wonderful night owl side effect for, well, I don't even know how long. The steroid injection I received can last anywhere between one month and eight-teen months so I have no idea how long I will be like this. As I said though, I do prefer this side effect rather than being in pain and although a lot of people may think because I'm awake all the time that I have the energy to do things all the time but that's not the case at all. 

Don't get me wrong, insomnia isn't wonderful either. I feel tired, I feel exhausted, but I'm not in pain and that's what I love. Not being in pain for me is the best and most wonderful thing ever. But because of the side effect of insomnia, my mind may be wide awake all the time but my body is tired, my eyes are tired. Most days because I am so "Brain-Awake" (as my Grandfather calls it) and my body is so exhausted I have to have at least two coffees to get me through the day which makes me awake more yes but doesn't make me so tired so I'm not in "Zombie-Mode" all day. 

Insomnia is not a wonderful thing to deal with. You're either wide awake walking around looking and feeling like a zombie or you're awake enough to want to go on an eight-hour shopping spree. A lot of people may think "I can just go online and talk to people, or get my reading list out of the way, or get this done and that done". No, it doesn't work like that, half the time you have no energy to even make a drink. I have a ton of books I want to read, a lot of movies and tv shows I want to watch, loads of blogs I want to write, etc but I can't because my body is so weak from no sleep or rest. It's hard and it's very lonely. So if I take a few hours or days to reply to you all, or a miss a week or two of blogging, you now know why. Thank you all for being so wonderful and understanding!

With love, Alisha Valerie. x