From trouble falling asleep to a good night rest and more energy!

Sleeping well has always been a problem for Laura Beljaars. She simply did not get tired in the evening and did not sleep until 3 AM for years. After trying all kinds of things to sleep better, she discovered a new treatment last year and since then her sleep problems are a thing of the past. “If I had read this story two years ago I would not have believed it.”

It is 12:15 pm when we speak to Laura. There was a time when she didn’t get out of bed until this time. Now she sounds cheerful and awake. “I slept very well last night,” she says cheerfully. “I even woke up in front of the alarm this morning, then I thought: oh wow, I have one more hour!”

Sleeping problems since childhood

Laura is 31 years old and was diagnosed with Gilles de la Tourette when she was eleven. Years later, the diagnosis of ADHD was added. As an expert by experience for the Parnassia Group and its own practice TicTalk & more, she guides teachers and schools dealing with students with Tourette, as well as their parents. She is also a volunteer at the Gilles de la Tourette Foundation, where she has also been on the board since 2015.

“For years I went to bed around 12:00 AM, turned on Netflix and hoped to sleep around 3:00”

Laura has had a sleeping problem since she can remember. “In seventh grade I had a lot of trouble getting there on time. Cycling to school was about 5 kilometers. Then I got up at 8:10 am and then I was at school at 8:30 am. Almost impossible, but that was the case. I streamlined that. “There is a pause.” During that period I received very heavy behavioral therapy for my tics. When I got home, I was so tired that I just fell asleep exhausted at night. That’s the only time in my life, that I slept on time. ”

Can not sleep

She tries everything; from mindfulness to sleep webinars, from books full of sleep tips to ‘sleep inducing’ relaxation exercises. Nothing works and she is becoming increasingly frustrated, but also used to her extraordinary rhythm. “For years I went to bed around noon, turned on Netflix and hoped to sleep around 3am. My alarm went off at 11 am. For a while I tried to wake up earlier but then I woke up very tired. During the day I remained tired, became easily overstimulated and I was lightheaded, so I just couldn’t do anything. ”

Scared to fall asleep

Nobody understands her. Her mother, who likes to go to bed early and get up early, also has trouble empathizing, but it is mostly strangers who pass judgment. “Just go to bed earlier dude, they would say. But that didn’t work at all. I was even terrified for sleeping. Because I knew, if I lie in bed now I will have obsessive thoughts for the next few hours (Tourette’s characteristic) and if I can’t stop those obsessions then I’m not sleeping at all. ”

New treatment for sleep problems

Laura gets to know Sandra Kooij from PsyQ at the beginning of 2019. She tells Laura that sleep problems are very common with ADHD and Tourette. “When she said, I can help you, I was like, yeah, sure!”

On Sandra’s recommendation, she starts a new treatment: light therapy with light therapy glasses * in combination with melatonin and a fixed sleep rhythm.

* The light therapy glasses are glasses with built-in light therapy lamps that spread blue light. The glasses have been specially developed for people with winter depression, sleeping problems and fatigue complaints.

Miraculously, the treatment works. Two weeks later she falls asleep well, continues to sleep and can wake up “normally”.

“I found out that there are people who do things at 8 a.m. on the weekend.”

“A whole world really opened up for me. I found out that there are people who already do things at 8 a.m. on the weekend, and I discovered that I could get tired of myself in the evening. always asleep by exhausting myself completely. Now in the evening I think: oh, I’m a bit tired, let me go to sleep. Wake up before the alarm, also something, like this morning, I still think so very strange.”

Learning a new sleep rhythm

Her new rhythm is as follows. At half past ten in the evening she takes melatonin, depending on the day she is in bed around 11 o’clock and at noon she sleeps. At 8 o’clock the alarm rings and she puts on her light therapy glasses. “I put on the glasses immediately when I am awake, and whether I want to or not, within 10 minutes after that I am awake. The blue light shines through my eyelids, just like the sun. Not sharp or annoying, because I can do whatever I want with it. Check my Facebook timeline and have breakfast. In the winter I often have it on for an hour to an hour and a half, but in principle half an hour is enough. ”

Consequences of sleep problems

“I never really realized the consequences of my sleep problem until the problem was gone,” she continues. “It affects everything. In the past, if I had worked for a day or half a day, then I was broken and I went on the couch with Netflix. Now I paint or craft in the evening. I was also tired, often depressed, and snacked a lot more. Everyone knows me as a chocolate monster, but those chocolate cravings are gone. I still have Easter eggs in the cupboard that I haven’t eaten. Was unthinkable in the past. ”

“Because of the lack of sleep, I was always tired, often depressed and I drank a lot more.”

Although every day is better than it used to be, she still has difficult days. Yesterday. Laura: “My alarm went off and there was so little sun. My first reaction was: shit, it’s just still dark. Then I was grumpy and tired all day. The winters remain difficult, but everything is different.”

Take your sleep problem seriously

It is 12:45 PM. She used to start having breakfast now, now it is time for lunch and we have come to the end of our conversation. “You know? I didn’t know at all before that you could wake up rested. I always wake up so tired, isn’t that normal? I asked people.” Now she knows that is not normal, and she hopes to inspire others with her story. “Take your sleep problem seriously and find someone who really understands” she concludes. “Often therapists do not look at the core of the problem: sleeping itself. And I swear by those glasses. I don’t know if it works just as well for others, but I do know that my sleep went really bad at first and now very well. If I read this story two years ago I wouldn’t believe it. ”


Source translated from Dutch:

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