I have always struggled with sleep – my Mum says I was a nightmare baby/child. I never slept when I was supposed to; always coming alive at night. My body clock is unpredictable and does not like to schedule itself to my needs. I have a constant struggle to get to sleep at night. I can spend all day feeling exhausted, but the second I get into my bed I can guarantee I will be wide awake with a gazillion thoughts flitting their way through my mind.
My brain becomes, what I describe as ‘noisy’ and no matter how hard I try I can never seem to calm my thoughts. Eventually, I will drift off but this is usually after at least an hour of brain noise. However, for me to drift off I require my room to be at the right temperature, there to be absolutely no noise and no light.
This is only the case at night time. If I get into my bed in the day, which on weekends I tend to do, I will drift off for a nap instantaneously despite how bright or noisy my surroundings sometimes are. You would think after a full day of overload my body would be ready to sleep and recover the same way it is if I were to go for a nap in the day. For some reason – unbeknown to I – there is a difference between the two circumstances.
I have taken and tried out lots of advice given to me about this problem but nothing seems to work. I think my inability to switch off and sleep is caused by my Autism. My high-wired brain and ‘superhero’ senses find it too hard to stop taking in information and have a moments peace. This is the same for my younger brother who is also on the Autistic spectrum and has a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, (ADHD).
My younger brother struggles more than me. I can manage to get to sleep after an hour of rampaging thoughts but my brother can not. He will lie awake until 4 am some nights and never seems to properly drift off.
The similarity we both share is that when we are asleep it is impossible to wake us up. Nothing can stir us; no alarm clock or even human being physically shaking us will awaken us. For my brother, who is currently attending a college course, this can mean sleeping till 5 pm the following day if given the chance. For me, this means often being late for work due to oversleeping.
The same way our bodies take their time to shut down, they seem to also need time to wake back up. I have never researched if any of this is related to Autism but for my brother and I to both suffer, despite us attempting to regulate our body clocks, inclines me to believe it is due to ASD. I am interested to see if others on the spectrum also struggle with their sleeping pattern and if they feel it is also an effect of their Autism…?