I can't remember the last time that I had a decent night's sleep, where I wasn't interrupted in the night by my pain, or where I could just fall asleep without worrying too much. I have to say that this particular subject is very dear to my heart, which is why I'm sitting here writing it again, after another sleepless night.
What is so frustrating about having all of this pain, is the fact that it can keep you awake, no matter how tired or run down you are. It doesn't matter that you're unable to keep your eyes open, or that you are suffering from exhaustion. If you're in as much pain as I am now, then sleep just isn't an option.
Being in pain all of the time is exhausting in itself. If you don't get enough rest, or decent sleep, then the pain will only get worse. The more pain you have, the less sleep you have and so the vicious circle begins. What's more, there doesn't seem to be anything that you can do to help yourself drop off.
There are countless remedies available now to help "aid and promote" natural sleep. So, you pour some aromatherapy oils into your bath, take all of the pain killers you possibly can, put on some relaxing music and then just cross your fingers in the hope that you'll get some sleep.
But when it comes down to it, it doesn't really matter what you do in order to try to send yourself off, because you know in the end that the pain will be there to keep you awake.
I suppose that if you don't sleep for one night here, or one night there, it's not so bad, but when it's night after night, after wretched night, then things really do start to get out of hand. You begin to lose your grip on reality and end up begging your GP for something to help you sleep. But because so many of us are on strong pain-killers already, most GPs are reluctant to give out anything else, especially sleeping tablets, because of addiction.
Occasionally, when you're so worn out by it all, you do find that you drop off pretty quickly. In fact, sometimes it's just too good to be true, and you know that there must be a catch in it somewhere. Usually, there is. There has been many a night where I've been sound asleep, dreaming my sweet dreams, only to be jerked awake by the pain rushing through my pelvis like an electric shock. Sometimes I wonder what's hit me - and can't think what it was that woke me up with such force. However, I soon realise what it was - as I find myself lying there in the foetal position, clutching my stomach and willing the pain to go away.
Other nights I just know that I'm not going to get to sleep, however early I go to bed, and I usually end up tossing and turning the night away, unable to get comfortable, yet unable to concentrate enough to read a book. It can be extremely frustrating and more often than not, I find that I end up in tears, because I'm unable to do anything except lie there waiting for sleep to come. You see, the thing about being awake in the middle of the night, is that it can be an incredibly lonely and upsetting time. You have no one to talk to, and you can't exactly go around doing things that you would normally do during the day.
There are some nights where I end up feeling so frustrated, all I want to do is kick and scream and yell at the top of my lungs. However, knowing that I would probably wake the neighbours up - as well as my husband - this isn't exactly the best action to take. Usually if I am really fed up and annoyed, I'll get on-line to see if any of my friends are around to talk to.
Having access to the Internet has been a life saver. Instead of having dark lonely nights ahead of me all of the time, I know that I can switch my lap-top on and "talk" to my friends, or go into a chat room and have a good gossip with other women in the same predicament as myself. More often than not, we end up nattering away about other things, that have nothing to do with pain or endo - which is probably a good thing all round.
One thing I have learned over the years, is that if I can't sleep, then there is no point lying there in the dark trying to. I know that occasionally I do, but I only make myself worse in the end. My mum says that she gets up to make herself a hot drink, or has a bowl of cereal and that helps her get back to sleep.
If you can't sleep and don't want to wake anyone up, then go into a room where you can close the door, and turn a light on. Read a book, watch a video, or do some e-mail. Hot milky drinks are brilliant, if you like that sort of thing, if not, have a glass of whiskey or something, and listen to some relaxing music. Just don't try to dwell on the fact that you can't sleep.
Sometimes in the Summer when it's warm outside and it's a clear night, I go outside to look at the stars and sit in the garden looking up at the sky. I make sure that I'm wrapped up warm and that I don't get cold - but it can help just sitting outside for a while with a hot drink. Just ridding your mind of your pain and your worries is all that you need to do, even if it's only for a short moment.
The more you lie there in the dark, the more you worry about your pain, your endometriosis and where you life is heading. You start to worry about tiny, pathetic little things and all of a sudden everything gets blown out of proportion. Something small and insignificant suddenly becomes a matter of life and death. The more you worry, the worse things seem.
And while you're worrying and upset that you can't sleep, you're only making your pain worse. Worrying doesn't help anything. You become tense and upset, which in turn increases your pain.
I'm sure that everyone has their own way of dealing with the long, dark, sleepless nights due to their pain, and whatever it is, it has to be better than just lying there. You really don't want to end up staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, wishing for your pain to go away, because it usually doesn't work like that.
If you can't sleep, it doesn't matter. If it continues to be a problem, then go and see your GP, or try some herbal remedies. Whatever happens, don't let it get to you, because it only makes you worse in the long run - and that way, the pain wins.
Go with the flow, and eventually your body will get back into a sleep pattern that you can live with. Trust me, I've been there.
I know that earlier I said that taking herbal remedies, or having a hot bath before you go to sleep doesn't work, but sometimes it can help relax you, more than anything else.
There are a lot of different lotions and potions available now, all there to help "promote natural sleep". Occasionally, when I'm really tired and am in a lot of pain, I will take a herbal sleeping tablet, or have a bath with aromatherapy oils in it, just to help me rest, rather than fall into a deep sleep.
Sometimes if I'm lucky, they will do the trick, but it's something I'll only use every now and again, because if I used them every night, I know they would stop working.
Chamomile tea can help make you feel sleepy - and Chamomile oil in the bath can be great too. Not only does it help with the cramps, but it can also make you feel sleepy, killing two birds with one stone. My reflexologist told me to buy some and to put 5 drops in with my bath, every other night. I have to admit, it has helped, and I have been sleeping a little better since.
Another thing that I like, are the pillow drops, which you can buy from any Chemist shop. Once again, they use aromatherapy, but you can just put them onto your pillow, and inhale the scent. They have lavender oil in them, amongst other things and can sometimes help make me feel drowsy, even if I don't fall into a deep sleep.
It can be a nightmare sometimes, and there are nights where nothing I do seems to help, but it doesn't mean that I am going to stop trying altogether. Occasionally if I wake up in the middle of the night, I will come downstairs and have mug of hot milk. Sometimes I'll add some drinking chocolate, or some Horlicks, but more often than not, I'll just have it plain. And it is amazing how quickly I fall asleep afterwards, so there must be something in the old wive's tale?
One doctor I spoke to told me to get into a routine, so that I got used to going to bed at a certain time at night, and waking up at a certain time in the morning, except it doesn't work like that. If I can't sleep at night, then I don't wake up in the morning. It's as simple as that. But on the other hand, I know that by sleeping all day and catching up with lost sleep, I'm getting into a really bad routine of staying awake all night again - so somewhere I have to draw the line.
Therefore when I do have bad nights, I will do anything I possibly can to help me get to sleep again, so that I can spend my days awake and my nights asleep. After all, I can't spend the rest of my days in bed. It just isn't good for me.
It is horrible not being able to sleep when you're in pain. I do know that - and I know how hard it is to get into a decent sleep routine as well. But I know now that if I worry about it, it only makes it worse. If I know that I'm going to have a bad night, I resign myself to the fact and spend my time doing constructive things, such as reading my e-mail, or writing letters. Occasionally when the pain is bad, and I can't concentrate, I'll watch a really mindless video, or I'll just lie back and listen to some relaxing music. As long as I don't get too worked up, then I usually drop off eventually.
Having a decent night's sleep is essential to all human beings, whether we have pain or not. Living with endometriosis and pain can rob us of that sleep, and it can have devastating effects on our lives. However, if there is anything that you can do to help yourself sleep at night, then give it a try. Surely taking a herbal remedy, or using aromatherapy oils has to be better than getting no sleep at all.
It's important to give ourselves a break every now and again, and to block the pain out enough, so that we can get some decent sleep and time out from it all. Therefore occasionally, I'll do whatever I have to do, in order to get a decent night's sleep. At the end of the day, I would rather knock myself out, and benefit from it, than suffer another restless night. Wouldn't you?
No energy or motivation
Am I going mad?