If sleeping were to be a competition, I would have won all the trophies available in the past, as I loved my sleep and how I hated my sleep to be disturbed. I spent a large part of my life sleeping and the only thing I seemed to prefer more than sleeping was eating my favorite meals. My life thus revolved majorly around eating and sleeping most of the time. Things, however, started to change when I was encouraged to seek help.
When I Started to Notice
I started to notice that I fell asleep a lot at the age of 12. Before this time, I slept an average of 7 hours every day, going to bed at about 10pm and waking up at about 5am. I used my daytime period to do my daily activities while I rested at night. But just about the time I was 12 years old, I just suddenly noticed that I seemed to get tired a lot. Initially, I just thought that perhaps, I have stressed myself so much in the past few days.
I however, didn’t really like the idea of sleeping in the day time as I felt it was a waste of my valuable time. So I tried as much as possible to stay awake during the day. However, as the days goes by, all my efforts to stay awake during the day seemed futile. I end up sleeping for up to 16 hours almost every day. I started to have some strange behaviors that even I myself was surprised at. Some of them include:
Very quick entry into REM sleep
I started to notice that I dream a lot. In most cases, as soon as I go to sleep, be it in the daytime or in the night, I notice that I start to sleep. This was very different from my first self, where I hardly had any dream at all. In fact, there were periods, whereby for a stretch of 3 months, I might not have any dream. During this period, however, I always notice that the instant I fell asleep, I started to dream almost immediately.
Sometimes, the dream could be so intense that I wake up immediately. When I, however, wake up, I would find it very difficult to move any part of my body. In some cases, I do remember the dream vividly, while in other cases, I just have a vague memory of the dream. I really knew I needed help, but I did not know how to go about it.
I started to notice a funny change in my normal sleeping routine. As opposed to sleeping in the night and being awake in the day, I found myself sleeping all day, and then once it’s about 12 midnight, I am suddenly awake and I won’t be able to sleep. When it’s about 4am to 5am, I suddenly begin to feel sleepy again. This was a very difficult situation for me as I was almost useless during the day. Microsleep
I noticed myself always losing memories. In some cases, I could be doing something and I suddenly lose myself. Like a robot, I still manage to do some of the routine tasks correctly, but I don’t remember doing any of them. I could be quoted to have said some things, probably the right thing to say at that time, but I don’t remember saying them. In other cases, I start looking for an item the last place I remembered putting them, only to find them somewhere else. I, however, know that nobody else could have moved the item.
Loss of Muscle Control
I began to notice that I suddenly lost control of my muscle even though I was awake. This condition which I later got to know is referred to as cataplexy often happened to me anytime I was crying or laughing. It was so bad that in most cases, I just managed to get to the nearest chair and then collapsed. I started to try as much as possible to avoid these emotions and I was scared that I could go paralyzed if the condition continues.
This condition affected every area of my life. I suddenly fall asleep in class, only to be woken up by the teacher and embarrassed in the class. I because a laughing stock of the class as I was mocked and given every name related to sleep that can be conceived. Most times, the teacher asks me to stand up while he continues to teach. However, I seem to fall asleep even on my feet.
My grades in school became very bad, as I could not concentrate or learn in class. I can’t read, as I end up sleeping the moment I pick up a book to read. Even in the exam hall, I sometimes fall asleep, losing valuable time I could have used to write down the few things I could attempt. I had no friends as nobody wanted to associate with me. The few I had left me when I was always sleeping off on them.
When the situation continued to worsen, my parents took me to a professional clinic. While there, I was linked with a psychologist who was to help me overcome this condition. A routine was drawn up for me. As much as possible, I was to stay active during the day. Some diet and exercise were recommended for me. I was also given a sleeping pill to take every night by 9pm. This helped me to sleep between the hours of 9pm and 6am comfortably.
Upon waking up, I carry out my daily exercises and tried to do one or two chores. I also took an hour of a nap every afternoon. And with this, I started sleeping for about 10 hours every day. The rate I slept in class however reduced considerably and I was able to exercise and get one or two other tasks done in the evenings.
With time, I was able to start to sleep for just 8 hours every day. I normally sleep between the hours of 11pm to 6am and an hour nap between 2pm and 3pm. I also get to rest more on weekends. Overall, my level of daily activities has gone back to normal and I am able to live a normal life again.