The importance of sleep

Any parent will be able to recite to you the effects of sleep deprivation.  Whether it’s a long term issue or one night after months of being a perfect sleeper, we’ve all felt it.  The term walking zombie comes to mind.

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Sleep is so important to good mental health.  Of course it’s always easier said than done.  When you have sole care of a small child, you can’t just pop a sleeping pill and hope for the best.  At least not without knowing how well it works first.  The trouble with not being able to sleep is that for me it’s often too late to even contemplate taking medication…I have enough trouble getting out of bed in the morning as it is.

A few years ago, before D came along, I couldn’t sleep…for 5 days straight.  I laid in bed, closed my eyes and nothing happened….for 5 days.  I had been taken off all sedative medication and had no access to any.  I even tried alcohol and nothing happened.  My brain just refused to switch off. I was at a loss as to what to do.  On the 3rd night I went to A&E.

After waiting for hours, I was told to go home, I was nothing but a drug chaser. If I was a drug chaser then I would have already slept…you know because I would have drugs.  Rinse and repeat for the next night.  Both nights I had to wait to see the psych team. Both nights I was accused of being a drug chaser. Both nights I was given nothing.  By this stage it was up to day 4.

I had called the Crisis Team, they told me to go to A&E, it was fruitless. I was at a loss as to what I could do.  My brain was refusing to switch off. My eyes burned from being open for 4 days. I was very close to snapping. I covered an entire wall in my room with paper and wrote ramblings, that spanned the whole wall. A kind of brain splatter on my wall. None of it made sense.  Still I couldn’t sleep.

I had a small amount of hope (or I was a glutton for punishment) and went to the A&E again.  It was now day 5. I didn’t have much faith, but I needed sleep and I was willing to do anything at this point.  Anything legal that is.  I was in luck…the registrar who was on duty that night was someone who knew my history…something that the other doctor could have easily checked and seen that I have never had an issue with drugs.

He couldn’t believe that I had been ignored so long.  He wanted to admit me, I just wanted to sleep, something that we all know doesn’t happen too comfortably in a hospital bed.  He had no hesitation in giving me a wafer type medication to help me sleep. A wafer is a medication that dissolves as soon as it hits your tongue.  An easy way to avoid giving me a script, which is what the other doctor was apparently trying to avoid.

After 5 days, I sleep deeply and long.  I felt refreshed and like I had control over my body again.

Snore Australia states the effects of chronic sleep deprivation as “feeling tired, irritability, slurred speech, blurred vision, memory loss, inability to concentrate, episodes of confusion, hallucinations, nausea, impotence and reduced sexual drive. ”  They also state that extreme sleep deprivation can lead to psychosis.  Unfortunately the only way to ‘fix’ sleep deprivation is to sleep.  Something that can be easier said than done, especially when you add small children into the mix.

The website How Did You Sleep says that the importance for sleep to mental health is paramount. “Sleep allows the brain to take in new information and strengthen our memories.  The quality of your sleep can have a significant impact on your mood, energy level and ability to concentrate.  It can affect your work, cause relationship problems and make it difficult to complete simple tasks.  Sleep can also affect our mental wellbeing, immune system, and other health-related issues. It is crucial to our health that we learn to sleep well.”

Do you have trouble with sleep?

What do you do each night to ensure that you get a good nights sleep?

Linking up with Jess for #IBOT

15 thoughts on “The importance of sleep

  1. Lyndal

    i honestly, do not know what i would do if i couldn’t sleep for that long… i feel crazy after a week of broken sleep, let alone no sleep!


  2. Redcliffe Style

    I’m a terrible sleeper. After a few sleepness nights you do start to fall apart. Loss of appetite etc. Only then, will I pop 1/2 a restativ. This will help me to fall asleep and still be able to listen out for my girls. Rachel x

  3. Eleise Hale

    Your story reminded me of the time my daughter was cutting some teeth and decided not to sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time for 5 days straight. I rang tresillian and cried, they said I have PND, I said no anyone who hadn’t slept for 5 days would be going crazy. The next night she slept or I just slept through the cries.

  4. ann

    I am about to try some kind of herbal remedy the last 2 weeks here have not been fun. I either cannot fall aslepp or I fall asleep easily but wake up and am awake for a couple of hours. Sleep is one of the most important things for health both mental and physical.


    Sleep is ABSOLUTELY so important. I remember the torture of sleep deprivation when my twins were babies. I got so many weird sicknesses from being so run down by lack of sleep. Recently, with the addition of a new puppy, I experienced sleep deprivation again. I couldnt cope. I was losing it. A family night duty puppy roster has helped a lot with this. I have also suffered insomnia and it is awful. Watching the clock and freaking out as it gets closer to morning and yet I had still not been able to switch my brain off and sleep. Sleep is gorgeous and so important to function properly!

  6. Good Golly Miss Holly!

    Holy shit, just the thought of going TWO days without sleep is enough to make me feel ill. You poor love x

  7. myshelomitashop

    In my sleep deprivation I get cranky..jump at every noise and easy to explode over small thing. So now I try to not to give in with that. I used to stay up late even until early hours just to watch tv or writing my blog or blogwalking whichever keeps me going then I realised it is taking it’s toll on my body. So since then I take a nap more regularly especially if I have stayed awake late on the night before.
    I can’t believe you were ignored for so long! But thankfully you finally got the sleep you needed. I hope you won’t have to go through that awful experience once again!

  8. Alison

    I was awake for 4 days once, auditory and visual hallucinations, tried alcohol like you, was getting desperate, fortunately I did manage to crash on the fourth night. Disturbed sleep too much/too little is a problem for me a few times a year, happily not in the last few months.

    I do the visualisation thing, diaphragm breathing (which is not just deep breathing as you probably know) and visualising (for me) a particular walk, smelling it, hearing it, feeling it, sometimes that works. I also use a hypnotherapy CD which was originally to curb my appetite for chocolate, but the guy has a really soothing voice so that works too quite often. Right now am physically exhausted so sleeping is not a problem! The universe sure does have a sense of humour.

    Reading about how the A&E people treated you made me glad I wasn’t there as I might have added jail time to my list of issues. I loathe people who bully others & abuse their power, of all kinds, but medical staff who are incompetent, negligent and abuse their power are the worst of all. Making a mistake is one thing, ignoring a person’s desperate plea is another. Sleep deprivation has been linked to suicide, stroke and heart problems amongst other things. If I know that, they sure did. Anyway, yep hypo stuff and self hypno stuff does sometimes help me.

  9. Jayne

    How rude of the hospital to accuse you of chasing drugs without actually checking the facts first! To say 5 days is a long time to go without sleep is a massive understatement.

    I struggle to get to sleep. I have bipolar disorder, and even though it’s well managed with medication I do have bouts of hypomania which keep me awake (though not for days on end!) and sometimes when they’re over, I’m too tired to sleep.

    I use hypnosis tracks every night and the occasional sleeping tablet.

  10. A Happy Face

    Aarrrgh, sleep depravation. I’ve always had a problem with it and alcohol is usually my fix. A beer or 2 after dinner and regular sleep would be my awesome friend. But lately with all the stress in my life, it’s returned. I have seen doctors about it, explained everything and nothing. “Try to get some sleep” is all they would tell me. 5 days straight and the house was full of baked goods and sparkling floors. Same thing happen to me. I was a drug chaser though there is no history of drug use or abuse.
    I still have sleepless nights maybe 2 or 3 in a row and still no help from any medical professional. I’ve resorted to googling it but that concept scares me aswell. I’m sure a simple anti-depressent or even refering me to a psycologist or psychiatrist would help. I guess I’ll just have to deal with it until the stress is gone 🙁

  11. Pingback: I don't want to be a zombie | Musings of the Misguided

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