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Sleep Deprived For 40 Years

by Carol

I've had insomnia since I was 20 years old. I could never manage to fall asleep before 4 or 5 a.m. My alarm would go off at 7:00 and I would get ready for work and then struggle to get through the day on 2 or 3 hours of sleep.

I was so tired in the afternoons that I sometimes fell asleep (only for a few minutes) at my desk. After work I would go home and try desperately not to fall asleep after supper, because if I did, I knew I would be wide awake for the rest of the night. insomnia continued throughout the years. I managed to get caught up a bit on the weekends (although not always). I was so exhausted all of the time, but no matter how tired I was, my body simply refused to let me sleep for more than a few hours. In my 40's I finally persuaded my very reluctant GP at the time to give me a prescription for a sleeping medication.

Since then I've been on and off more sleep meds than I can count. Trouble is, they always stop working after awhile, and trust me, they are not the answer. Now that I'm no longer working (I retired a few months ago), I thought perhaps sleep would come easier, but it hasn't. I still can't get to sleep until the wee hours of the morning (I'm typing this at 4:00 a.m.), but at least I no longer have to drag myself into work.

The frustrating thing is, I can still only sleep for 3 or 4 hours. My body won't let me sleep any longer than that. All of this has made me extremely depressed and anxious and I finally sought the help of a therapist, who determined that I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. His advice was to sleep whenever I am sleepy. I do that sometimes, but I still can't seem to get more than a few hours. So my insomnia continues as it has for my entire life.

At this point I think I will just have to live with continuous sleep deprivation. But it's a horrible thing to live with and it's making me old before my time.

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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.

We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.

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