27 Jun 2019

Sleepless nights

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Beautiful night

Because of my hyposensitivity, I regularly “suffer” from sleepless nights. That I am still awake at around two o’clock, seemingly in no need of sleep. Then I look at the clock and think about what I have to do the next day. If I have something to do (appointments, work, day care, children coming) I often decide to cancel the night. I do not go to sleep but I keep calm; I am sitting / watching a series or sitting at the computer.

The observant reader will have seen that I have placed suffer in quotation marks. This is not a typo. I myself do not have a lot of problems with skipping 1 night (this is, however, from my experience my limit; two really can’t!). As a result, I often sleep “early” the next day and also sleep well. People around me who know me better (mentors or close friends, etc.), however, notice it with me. Whether they say something is sometimes a second, but they do notice it. However, it does not stand in my way. I am functioning otherwise normal, at least normal for me…

Night person

For years I have known about myself that I am a night person. For me, that also explains my sleepless nights to a large extent. If I could determine my own rhythm, without social consequences, I would live at night and sleep during the day. For me that feels more natural somehow.

I know that with autism it is more common that people find the night a lot more pleasant than the day. For the simple reason that it is much quieter then. No people on the street, little to no traffic, “everyone” is asleep. Delicious! Far fewer incentives than during the day. My preference for night comes partly from that; the quiet is a possibility to get myself back in order.

Days of buildup

So much happens during the day! So many incentives around you and most of you do not realize. At least if you don’t have ASD or related disorder. Telephones that ring, people walk everywhere, cars, cyclists, hello neighbor, are you actually on time, what are the young people doing there, bang boom the neighbor next door dropped something, on the way to work, the sound of that motor is so hard, where did that cyclist come from all of a sudden, why is the middle of a traffic light actually yellow, and should I have actually had to brake, yes sorry now too late, and that phone notification - Facebook message from my mother, oh how nice my cousin goes ….. And so on and so on and so on and so on ….

And then you haven’t even started on your way to work / school / day care or wherever you go. Briefly; this means Chaos! Chaos with a capital C. How much trouble you have depends on how you are as a person. Some can handle this very well, others a little less. Without boasting, I think I can handle this pretty well. But Chaos is a silent killer …

After processing a day of all kinds of incentives, I need time to process things. This takes longer one day than another day. This may be because one day was busier than another, but not always. This can also be related to my energy reserve for that day.

From Chaos to Order - The Night Sessions

And then the evening comes. The world is slowing down, people are coming home and watching television. The traffic is decreasing. Rest is coming. And the autist comes to rest … You might think …

Well not really me. I live more in the evening. This is because I am a night person. I feel more active and alert at night than during the day. But in addition, the process starts in my mind to “clean up” and process everyday things. Sometimes this takes minutes, sometimes hours and sometimes even days. Fortunately, after psycho-education and counseling at home, I am more and more in control of this process.

Where it used to take hours, it is now a lot easier. However, if it has been a busy day, then I need the night to process the day. And then I am very busy with all sorts of things. I rarely have sleep. And once in a while I just don’t feel like going to bed. This usually comes from the fact that I have nothing to do the next day.

After a period of processing there is really peace for me. Then the day is processed and put in its place. Sometimes I can only then respond to things that happened that day. And by that I mean responding more to myself. So suddenly a comment can sink in from someone and I can get stressed out again. However, I have learned for myself to let go of things that I cannot change. If I can change something about it and it is something that bothers me, I have to figure out for myself what the best next step is to solve my problem. If it turns out that the problem cannot be solved by me, by whom can it? If I come to the conclusion that it cannot be solved, I must experience it as a fact. And since facts simply ARE and nothing more or less than that, I have to accept that. No matter how difficult that sometimes is.

Order of the night - Dawn

After the settling and processing period, the moment of rest comes. So somewhere in the night, for me then. When I sleep that night I am awakened by one of my many alarm clocks. When I am awake I see the sun rise. Time to make coffee and start the new day. I always try to start my day in a good state of mind. And I keep getting better at it.

Of course there are times when that doesn’t work out that well, but I can accept those moments better and better. It may all be there now. Acceptance is the first step to a happier life.

Thanks for reading
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Tags: dit-is-autisme persoonlijk autisme 
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David Westerink
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I am David, born in 1984 and I'm autistic. I write blog posts and advocate for autism acceptance. I'm willing to talk to anyone about anything.

I have my own podcast (in Dutch) about autism and neurodiversity! Checkout the AutCast!

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