Insomniacs struggle to get through daily routine

Nathalie Schickendantz | Staff Writer

For some, their head hits the pillow at 12:00 am but 2876 sheep later, and they’re still wide awake.

People with Insomnia suffer from the persistent inability to fall asleep. Researchers say the cause can be physical or mental factors. The brain goes through a sleep cycle and a wake cycle. When one of those off, it leads to Insomnia. Insomnia can affect people of any age and has a range of symptoms including anxiety, depression, irritability, headaches, drowsiness, lack of concentration and a poor immune system function.

Senior Amanda Casey is a dancer battling the side effects of Insomnia. Casey struggles to find the balance between getting enough sleep and managing her schedule.

“My sleep schedule is so bad, so I sleep all the time, just not at night,” Casey said. “My body needs sleep. Every Friday, my body shuts down, and I sleep forever.”

Casey said she has missed many occasions due to her poor sleep habits.

“So there was this one time, the big Christmas Kick dance, I fell asleep on the couch, and I was home alone, and I slept through the event,” Casey said. “My parents were at the game waiting for me to come, and the entire dance team was like, ‘Where’s your kid?’ and they were like ‘What do you mean she’s not here?’ So my dad drove home and was screaming at me like ‘Do you know what you did?’ So I literally had to get black eye shadow smeared on my body and go to the dance. I ended up performing, but you’re supposed to be there an hour before, and I arrived two seconds before. I’ve slept through so many things, especially practices.”

Sophomore Christopher Mann experiences the irregularities of sleep with his Insomnia. Mann finds himself in a repetitive cycle where stress results in a sleepless night.

“There was one week where I got four hours of sleep in one week,” Christopher said. “It happened last year. I was stressed about finals, so I couldn’t sleep.”

English teacher Thurman Allen began experiencing Insomnia when his career in education began in 2003. Allen said he has searched for additional help and found methods that help him cope.

“I went to a sleep specialist and they talked about sleep hygiene, which is just the patterns you use, like you should only use your bedroom for sleeping and not for reading or watching TV,” Allen said. “I’ve turned my clocks away ‘cause one of the things if you wake up (is that) you’re not supposed to look at your clock because then your mind starts to worry about how much you’re not sleeping.”

Allen has taken precautions to avoid disruptions in his sleep schedule.

“I try to stay away from screens,” Allen said. “I’ve bought blockers for all my screens to take away the blue light, which is supposedly bad for you. I stay away from caffeine. In the afternoon, I don’t take any caffeine. I wander around the classroom, because movement keeps me awake.”

Sophomore Hannah Libby was diagnosed last year with Psychiatric Induced Insomnia. This is when mental illnesses lead to Insomnia. Psychiatric disorders such as bipolarism, anxiety, and depression can cause sleep interference. Libby said she had trouble balancing a busy schedule with sleepless nights.

“Over the year, it was really rough,” Libby said. “I wasn’t sleeping as much and having a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep ‘til three o’clock in the morning, and I would be getting two hours of sleep. Then it led to me getting no sleep. I would be up for a couple days and then sometimes pass out in the middle of the day when I got home, but then I wouldn’t sleep at night or only get sleep for a couple hours.”

The two main components of a healthy human being are nutrition and sleep. For people diagnosed with Insomnia, sleep is no longer a daily part of life and leads to major difficulties, and despite its casual usage, Libby said Insomnia is an extreme level of sleep deprivation and is not be confused with typical sleepless nights.

“I think people use the term Insomnia pretty loosely, a lot of people who don’t have it complain about not being able to fall asleep that night,” Libby said. “It’s natural, sometimes you just can’t fall asleep, and sometimes it’s due to over-stimulation of the brain, or you’re just not tired and you didn’t waste your energy that day. With Insomnia it’s more like wasting your energy every day and not being able to fall asleep, no matter how tired you are.”