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Evaluating My Relationship With Sleep

Last updated: July 2022

My ongoing joke with people in my inner circle is that sleeping is my favorite hobby. If I could take a nap every day, I would. But as I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and then with DSWPR (delayed sleep-wake phase disorder), I suddenly had to take an inventory of my relationship with sleep.

Evaluating my sleep relationship

I am constantly tired. No matter how much sleep I get, even with my CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), I am always ready to take a nap. I didn’t realize how much this impacted my daily life until recently. Wasn’t everyone tired all the time? But once I started paying attention and keeping sleep journals for my doctor, I realized I had a much deeper problem.

Overwhelming fatigue

Being exhausted every single day is not healthy. I realized this when friends and family began pointing out how much time I slept. I started taking this feedback and asking about their own routines. Some reported being tired after a bad night of sleep or staying up too late, but generally, they stated they could make it through a day without a nap.

When I talked to my doctor, they asked if there was any time in the day I did not feel tired. In that doctor’s office, I was forced to confront how much this issue has impacted my life. Beyond being tired, I am exhausted every day. I can barely keep my eyes open at work. When I started tracking my mood every day, I noticed I really only had 2-3 hours a day without feeling overwhelming fatigue.

Mental health

After more consideration, I realized that being tired every day has had a major effect on my mental health, more than I ever thought. Exhaustion exacerbates my anxiety, depression, ability to focus, motivation, and more.

I was using sleep as a coping mechanism, as an escape from daily problems. I am also less likely to follow my routines, such as taking medication and eating healthy. In turn, this causes me to have flares for other conditions I have, such as hidradenitis suppurativa.

Feeling embarassed

I have felt shocked and even some embarrassment when evaluating my relationship with sleep. How am I just noticing how exhausted I am every day? I felt embarrassed to not have noticed before. I had to sit down and take stock of how much this has affected not only my own health, but the relationships in my life.

Missing events and work

I have missed social gatherings because I was too tired to go. I have even missed work because it felt physically impossible to get out of bed.

Unwilling to face illness

The only answer that made sense to me was that I ignored these symptoms and the effects on my life because I was not ready to face it. Facing a new medical problem is a difficult task, especially when already facing other chronic health conditions. It can take up so much time to see a doctor, schedule tests, wait for results, and then decide on a course of action. I face medical burnout routinely, and adding another issue seemed overwhelming.

Changing my relationship with sleep

Now, I am working with my doctors to implement many changes. I have continued to use a sleep journal to track my habits, am adapting to my CPAP machine, implementing a sleep routine, and using other techniques to address my sleep-wake phase disorder. This has not resulted in a complete cure, but after a few weeks I have noticed small changes. As I continue to learn more about this I have learned more about myself as well.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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