'Wake up, Michelle!’ barked the teacher, as all the kids sniggered.
‘Sorry,’ I said, lifting my head from the desk.
I had nodded off in class again.
No matter how much sleep I got at night, it was never enough.
I’d even go to bed in my school uniform and skip breakfast so I could grab an extra hour’s shut-eye before school.
Even after 12 hours of sleep, I’d feel tired.
‘Mum, I’m always sleepy,’ I wept.
‘I know,’ she sighed, but medical tests found nothing.
People assumed I went to bed too late, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Sometimes I’d fall asleep at parties and wake to find all my friends had left.
Other times, I’d snooze on the bus, missing my stop by miles.
I loved tennis but I’d even nod off watching exciting live matches.
After leaving school, it was hard to hold down a job because I’d nap at my desk.
Meeting my now husband, Glenn, he didn’t realise how serious it was.
When I was 28, we got married and soon welcomed two children, Jack and Lara.
Once they went to daycare, I’d work half the day and sleep half, but I still needed my 12 hours shut-eye at night.
One day, I put a pot on the stove and the next thing I knew, the house was full of smoke. I’d dozed off and nearly set the kitchen on fire!
But the kids were safe at their early learning centre, and Glenn was there to watch out for them the rest of the time.
Once, I was snoozing when Lara shook me awake.
‘Mum, your room’s flooded!’
‘Mum, your room’s flooded!’ she cried.
I’d dropped off with the tap in the en suite bathroom running, and my bedroom was ankle deep in water.
Finally, at 36, a specialist diagnosed me with idiopathic hypersomnia (IH).
A neurological condition, it meant I needed to sleep so much more than most people –at all hours of the day.
With medication to help me stay awake, I learnt to manage my condition.
My stove turns itself off and I’ve stopped trying to keep a spotless house as it robbed me of too much sleep, making me hard to live with!
There have been tough times, but Glenn has been very understanding.
To raise awareness of the condition, I founded Hypersomnolence Australia.
If people get diagnosed, they can get help. ●
For more, head to hypersomnolenceaustralia.org.au