Why is it so hard to get a good night’s sleep? Well, for me, it’s down to a number of factors.
Firstly, I am simply unable to switch off at bedtime. It seems that the second my head hits the pillow a million different thoughts start to race through my mind and my brain tries to focus on as many of them as it can all at once. I have no idea whether this is to do with my autism, my other mental health issues, or my medication, but it is one of the most frustrating things I have to deal with on an almost daily basis and is something I have put up with for as long as I can remember.
Secondly, I don’t want to sleep due to having bad dreams nearly every night. These dreams are not “nightmares” and do not include reoccurring horrible memories from earlier in my life, but what they do contain are certain undesirable people from my past who appear in almost every dream I ever have. I can spend nights fighting against falling asleep, sometimes by avoiding going to bed altogether, just so I don’t have to experience these horrendous people all over again at a time of the day that is meant to be when I should be able to get my rest. I can often wake up after one of these dreams still feeling exhausted due to my mental health not having been able to fully re-energise overnight. It really is horrible and I plan on seeking professional help for this issue.
The final fact about my sleeping pattern is that I simply have never been a good sleeper. From a young age I have never been a fan of sleeping and I have since found out that many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder are the same. This can be due to reasons such as having a heightened sensory input where certain noises/lights/smells/etc.. can keep people with autism awake, even though these things may be almost unnoticeable to neurotypical (non-autistic) people.
A few solutions that seem to help me to fall asleep include:-
- Having blackout curtains to prevent any exterior light sources from becoming a distraction.
- Using something to create a quiet droning noise in the room, such as an electric fan, so that other inconsistent noises cannot be heard.
- Putting a handkerchief or tissue covered in lavender oil somewhere in the bedroom to help to create a relaxing atmosphere.
Although this may be the case for everyone, it is especially important for people with mental health conditions to get their well-deserved rest on an evening as living with these issues can be both physically and mentally draining.
Please remember that you are not alone when it comes to your mental health. There ARE others out there like you, but more importantly, there ARE others out there willing to listen to you.