Ever since I can remember, at least as far back as when I was 7 years old (now 25), I've had trouble with sleep.
In college I talked to psychology professors, a counselor and had a session with a clinical psychiatrist at the hospital. The answers were across the board. Here are the symptoms I have:
1. When I do sleep I immediately begin dreaming, even if I only doze off for a minute. Often I can have a dream that seems to take hours within a 30-second nod-off.
2. My dreams are extremely vivid and easily remembered. I can read and feel pain in my dreams. They are in color and have tastes and smells (not sure about proprioception). They range from surreal (experiencing sensory input from two people at once, dying multiple times) to so mundane yet believable that I confuse them with memories of what happened the day before.
3. I almost never feel "tired", but I also rarely feel rested. I have accidentally stayed up through the night on various occasions when I get involved with a book, project or interesting train of thought. I seem to either be awake or exhausted to the point of passing out.
4. When I was younger I was unable to quiet my mind enough to fall asleep and would stay up for multiple days, sometimes experiencing blackouts/sleepwalking/fugues or mild hallucinations. These are less common now.
5. I don't often get cataplexy, but sometimes I do feel weak and it is difficult to move. These are very rare (half dozen times a year), however, which makes me question the narcolepsy angle.
6. My friends have always found in funny how the more stressful the situation, the calmer I seem. Even though I can be extremely anxious, the more agitated I get the more I slouch move slower, etc. The first time I got pulled over for speeding I inexplicably fell asleep as the cop was checking my license and registration in his car (this looked bad). It has not happened before or since, and I have been in various high-stress situations.
7. I only sleep 4-6 hours a night, not because I wake up repeatedly, but because I have difficulty falling asleep. Once asleep, however, I am dead to the world.
8. I often have trouble remembering the first half-hour after waking. I can get ready for work and talk to my wife in this time, but an hour later I can recall none of it.
9. I rarely take naps because when I do I almost alway experience sleep paralysis
, which is very unpleasant.
10. I feel like I am going to pass out shortly after lunch. I do not have this feeling at any other time of the day. I worked second shift for a while, thinking I was merely a night owl, but my symptoms were the same.
11. The only time I feel really rested an aware for a full day is when I have drank large amounts of alcohol the previous night. I do not get hangovers, or, if I do, I sleep through them. My non-medical opinion is that the alcohol suppresses my REM sleep, but I don't know if this is true.
12. I do not have micro-sleep or pass out for no reason many times a day, as is illustrated by Hollywood versions of narcolepsy.
13. Finally, the reason the various "experts" were confused is because I may or may not have bipolar disorder. My mother has it, and I seemed to have symptoms, but neither I nor the psychiatrist were able to decide if the mania caused the insomnia or vice-versa. I do have bouts of depression, but again cannot figure out if it is cause or effect.
Am I crazy? Or just crazy for thinking I am?