I’ve spent the last decade and a half getting by on three to four hours of sleep a night. Slowly becoming more and more drained and tired day by day, week by week. Fear jolting me out of what sleep I get every 45 minutes or so throughout the night. Sometimes I’d be alerting on something real that’s not a threat, like a c/o doing a tier check, or the neighbors being loud. Sometimes It’d be nothing, dreams, nightmares, sparks of delusion that rush through my body and shock me back to wakefulness. Watchfulness. A few times it was a cellmate attacking me because he was mad about something.
But that’s not what robbed me of my ability to sleep through the night.
When I was a kid, my parents would charge into my room screaming at me the moment they decided I had done something wrong. Regardless of the time, day or night. Because of this my nervous system has been trained to wake me up at the slightest disturbance. Which does not help with the beauty sleep.
Occasionally in the men’s prisons I’ve lived with someone I felt I could trust, and I’d be able to sleep. I don’t know if it’s that I’ve been lucky, or if it’s just the difference of living in a safer environment, but when I first got to WCCW it was a fairly quick shift for me to start getting two to three hours of sleep at a stretch, and regularly getting five hours total a night. Which is an improvement, but not quite enough to get by on.
From talking to people about my sleepless issues, I learned that many of the women here swear by melatonin. So I went to mental health and explained my issues with not being able to get to sleep at a decent hour and waking up repeatedly throughout the night. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to argue with them or even exaggerate what I’m going through to get them to do something about it. They just wrote the script for melatonin and told me to pick up a month’s supply at pill line. Now, thanks to the melatonin and having moved to a woman’s prison, most nights I get four hours of solid sleep, and another two of fitful sleep. This is more than I’ve had in quite a while and enough to make me not feel like I’m forced to drag myself out of bed in the morning.
I honestly thought I would never get a full night’s sleep in prison and I’m very glad to be wrong.