This past week, for the first time ever, I’ve suffered from true insomnia. And wow, do I ever sympathize with those who experience it on a regular basis.

I honestly don’t know how I’ve been able to function since Monday, but I’ve felt like a walking zombie with a nagging headache. And let me tell you, the lack of sleep certainly hasn’t done me any favours for my work, relationships and overall health.

You don’t realize how much sleep affects your life until you’re not getting enough of it. According to WebMD, insomnia is a disorder characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep.

In my case, I would get jolted awake, like clockwork, every night at 4 am — which in my opinion, is the worst possible time to get disrupted in your sleep (too late to go to bed, yet too early to stay awake). The following morning, I would wake up with dull pains in my head and an intense hunger for anything terrible for me (ex: greasy or fattening foods, sugar or coffee). Then, to make matters worse, I would be grumpier than a bear by evening, which forced me to take naps, resulting in a vicious cycle of insomnia all over again.

Aside from those issues, the changes I noticed most from my lack of sleep were the ones that affected my behaviour. Like every married couple, John and I have  occasional disagreements, some more heated than others. But yesterday, I picked an especially bad fight (over computer problems, of all things!) that I’m 100% certain was caused by my sleep-deprived lack of patience.

Only today, did I realize how irrational I was being, and how easy it is for a small argument to spiral out of control when you haven’t been sleeping well. Along with my irritability, I haven’t been able to concentrate on any sort of project or chore of value. At work, I’ve had to push myself harder than ever to complete the simplest of tasks, and at home, I’ve had to put off doing things that are a regular part of my regular routine, such as dishes and laundry.

At the very least, I’ve tried to take actions, within my control, to help me get a better sleep. I’ve left windows open to let in fresh, cold air. I’ve changed my sheets from silky ones to a cotton pair that I thought would be more comfortable. I’ve gone to bed earlier than ever before.

And yes, by last night, my sleep patterns finally started to improve — but there’s no guarantee those measures will work again, or that I won’t suffer from insomnia in the future. Also, sleep-aids/medications, to me, are always a last resort.

To all my friends and family: what do you do to not only get to sleep, but stay asleep until morning?