It’s been years, since I’ve been able to sleep for more than 7.5 hours at a time. Back when my wife was in the depths of her Health Issues, I was getting maybe 5-6 hours a night. That’s not good for anyone, especially a caregiver who’s pulling double-duty for a household.
I’ve tried, for many years, to improve — taking melatonin, 5-HTP, getting my sleep hygiene in order, turning off all devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed, progressive relaxation, meditation tapes, calming self-talk… the works.
But nothing really worked.
I could fall asleep, sure. I was absolutely done by the end of every day. But then I’d wake up too early, and I couldn’t get back to sleep.
This went on for years.
Until the past week.
Until I proverbially sat up, looked around, and said, “Yeah, I’m an Aspie. That’s me. I’ve always been, and I’ll always be — right there on the autistic spectrum.”
No sooner did I do this — with 100% commitment to it — than I started being able to sleep longer than 8 hours. I’ve been reliably getting 8.5-9 hours a night, for the past week. Sometimes I sleep for 10-11 hours. And when I happen to nap, I’m getting down for 3 hours at a stretch. I’ve slept 12 hours of the past 24 hours, and it feels fantastic.
It’s like I can relax. It’s like I can finally let my guard down. It’s like I don’t need to constantly figure things out anymore.
I can just be.
Of course, my logical mind says, this change could have been due to anything.
It could be because of some travel I did, a couple of weeks back.
It could be because I flipped my mattress.
It could be because I’ve got the A/C on now, to keep my room cooler than normal.
All these things may be contributing factors, sure. Absolutely.
But I’ve done them before, and they didn’t instantiate the change I’m experiencing now. The one thing I am doing differently now, than ever before, is accepting this Aspie identity, committing to it, going with it, and starting to live with it — rather than in spite of it.
Accepting — once and for all — that I’m autistic, an Aspie, that I’ve always been, and I’ll always be… that it’s who I am, it’s how I am, and I don’t have to keep sweeping it under the rug, hiding my stims, feeling self-conscious about my “quirks” and “oddities”, but just going with it, no matter what… It’s taken a huge load off my mind and my spirit. It’s like I just switched off the do-it-differently-than-you-want… live-like-others-live switch, and all the energy and power that had been diverted to that focus for 50 years, suddenly got channeled into the rest of my life.
The parts of my life that have been strained from lack of energy.
Like being able to sleep.
Coming to terms with my Aspieness may not be The One And Only Cause of my sudden ability to actually rest, but it’s the one variable that’s actually changed.
And that seems like a close enough correlation to me.