While You Weren't Sleeping

Not sleeping! We all hate it.

While you weren’t sleeping, you were lying in bed wishing you were sleeping, but to no avail. Then you started searching for the reasons you weren’t sleeping.

All the tossing, turning, re-positioning, thinking of things that might have put you to sleep. And all the while, you were assessing just how many hours were left before you had to get up and start your day. Tick, tick, tick. Your entire night inched by, leaving you exhausted even though you hadn’t done anything but lie there ... not sleeping.

The irony is that the longer you weren’t sleeping, the more anxious you got about not sleeping. And the more anxious you got about not sleeping, the more you weren’t sleeping.

And then you tried to figure out why you weren’t sleeping.

Was it stress? Too much caffeine? That argument you had with your spouse? Or perhaps it was some environmental disturbance, like a noise or the room temperature. But, he’s sleeping soundly. There’s certainly nothing in the environment bothering him.

And then it hits you: This must be menopause!

Sure, there have been other times when you weren’t sleeping very well. The most memorable was right after having your baby. But back them you weren’t sleeping for an obvious reason. It was all about the baby. The baby was hungry. The baby was wet. The baby was sick. Even though not sleeping was tiring, it made sense that you weren’t sleeping.

But now, at menopause, the fact that you aren’t sleeping is one of the most bothersome and senseless symptoms of all.

Of course, there’s an obvious reason that you aren’t sleeping: loss of estrogen. But, unlike the obvious reason you weren’t sleeping with a newborn, loss of estrogen just doesn’t seem a worthwhile reason for not sleeping.

I mean, you weren’t sleeping when you’d had your baby, and now you aren’t sleeping when you don't have your estrogen.

You can dissect the sequence of events that characterized your night ... last night and every night ... while you weren’t sleeping:

First, you weren’t able to fall asleep. Whereas you normally drifted off to sleep when your head hit the pillow, on the nights when you weren’t sleeping, it took an hour or two just to get to sleep.

But then, you had night sweats. The night sweats were like the hot flashes you had during the day. You felt a wave of intense heat throughout your body as if it was coming from the inside out. And it swept its way from head to toe, leaving a thick film of slimy sweat behind. And, along with it, your heart started pounding heavily, wildly, as if it was going to jump out of your chest.

Of course, that made you even more anxious and constituted an obvious reason as to why you weren’t sleeping.

And since the heart-pounding resolved after a couple of minutes, you thought you should have been able to go back to sleeping.

But you were drenched. Your nightgown, the sheets, even the pillow were damp. They were so damp that they were cold. So, you had to get up and change your nightgown. And once you were fully awake doing that, you realized that you had to change the sheets, too, lest they dampen your new nightgown.

That required waking up your snoring spouse, who saw no reason to care about soiled sheets. He actually accused you of wetting the bed. And that made you angry enough to bite his head off ... and really wake yourself up.

Finally, after all that, you went back to sleeping ... but only for an hour before the whole cycle repeated itself again.

Needless to say, you woke up after you weren’t sleeping because of all the interruptions throughout the night. 

And that set the stage for a profound feeling of fatigue in the morning. Even lifting the coffee mug to your lips seemed like a huge effort. You didn’t bother to put yourself together for the sake of appearance. It was just too much work. But off to work you went, moving slowly, feeling sluggish and old.

Because you weren’t sleeping, you also couldn’t seem to remember anything. Forgetfulness became the theme of the day. You couldn't remember what you were supposed to do or when you were supposed to do it. So you spent the entire day scrambling to make up for lost time, covering your mishaps, and forgetting the next thing while compensating for the last forgotten thing.

It was really exhausting. And it was all because you weren’t sleeping when you should have been sleeping.

Within the first couple of hours of your day, you’d had had it. You became irritable. No one could say or do anything without upsetting you in some way. You lashed out at your co-workers, and even your boss. 

Then you felt badly about it and tried to make amends. You were sugary sweet for about ten minutes. But then, wham! Something made you angry again. Over and over, all day long, you had mood swings like a pendulum. One minute you were be mad as a wet hen; the next, you were be calm as a cucumber. Eventually, everyone around you ... at work and at home ... felt like they were walking on eggshells. So they all started distancing themselves from you.

And when you realized that you'd alienated virtually everyone in your circle of family, friends, and co-workers ... all because you weren’t sleeping ... it made you depressed. The full-on gloom and doom enveloped you. 

And your depression made you unable to sleep.

So now, you aren’t sleeping because of estrogen loss on top of not sleeping because of depression.

It’s a vicious cycle ... not sleeping at night leads to all the events that follow because of it:

   Insomnia     Night Sweats       Interrupted Sleep                       Fatigue

Depression                          Irritability                         Mood Swings                      Forgetfulness

So, while you weren’t sleeping, a whole lot of other things were brewing to really affect the quality of your life ... negatively! Not sleeping is not just a sleepless night anymore.

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