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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

6. Dreaming of a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep.  One of those things I never seem to get enough of.  Ever.  As if fueled by the tide, every now and then, a wave of insomnia sweeps in and I struggle to either fall asleep or stay in ‘the land of nod’ for very long.  Like now for instance.

Apparently, I used to be a ‘good sleeper’ seeing Matt’s nickname for me was “pillow head”.  Thinking about it now though, I’m really not sure why as being a morning person, I was always the first person to leap out of bed .. (although these days, as Matt’s still sleeping due to his ‘funky’ work hours, I tend to attempt a stealthy ninja roll instead so as not to wake him).  Perhaps he was referring to my wild caveman look courtesy of my untamed ‘morning’ hair?  Or maybe it was my puffy face from where I had slept.  Who knows?   I should ask him sometime…  Anyhow, as anyone who gets insomnia will attest, its no fun – PLUS after a few nights of it, although I still manage a certain sense of normality in front of strangers and acquaintances, I become a bit of a ‘snappy tom’ and get a bit feral around my poor family. 

The thing is, I cannot understand why it happens.  The temperature in our bedroom is locked into (sorry Matt!) a  hibernation-inducing 18 degrees Celsius with the air-con serving its double purpose of providing ambient noise to drown everything else out.  Even in London, in the height of winter, poor Matt had to put up with the fan at full blast for the very same reason.  Our tinted windows are reinforced with blackout curtains that serve as guardians against any unwanted rouge gleams of light!  I even have a couple of eye masks on hand – just in case!  Extreme?  Perhaps.  Point-to-note, I avoid overnight flights as its too noisy and bright to sleep.  Holiday stays at rooms without the same at-home-conditions see me suddenly become a reluctant night owl, staying up till all hours until exhausted sleep finally claims me.

Matt, on the other hand, is an EXPERT at sleeping!  He can sleep ANYWHERE!  The plane?  Within minutes of sitting down.  The train or on a ferry?  Effortlessly.  Even on the rare ocassion when we go to bed at the same time, with me as the ‘exhausted’ one, he’ll fall asleep within seconds (I know because he does the sleep ‘rattle’!); whilst I lay there beside him, patiently waiting for sleep to claim me and insanely jealous at his ability to fall into a state of blissful slumber so quickly.

What normally follows is a TOTAL loss of control over my mind as I lay there obsessing over never-ending lists, mental notes, replaying conversations, planning the menus; all whilst alternating between trying to coach myself to “breathe deeply” and berating the whirling cogs in my brain that won’t stop churning.  When random pop tunes start weaving into my consciousness, I ‘flip’ (ie to the other side) in an effort to shake it off without giving myself whiplash.  Sigh.  Wham?!  “Wake me up before I go-go!”  Really?  Arggghhh.  Breeeeeeaaaaaaathe….

I know there are plenty of people out there who can survive quite-well-thank-you-very-much on not very much sleep.  I used to be – when I was younger (so much younger than todaaaaaay..).  Now, at 40-something, without enough of sleep, all my worst-of-worst traits seep through – petty, picky, insecure, grumpy, painful. The worst one? EVERYTHING becomes a BIG deal and I find myself getting frustrated and obsessing over the most mundane everyday stuff!  Just LOCO!

And so, for the sake of the welfare of my poor husband and children (and anyone else who may have to cross my path), I will try to overcome this and any future waves of insomnia by following 10 golden rules:

1.    Continue to stay away from scarey books (those who know me or have read my previous articles know what I’m talking about!)
2.    Work on my breathing
3.    Drown out the ‘inner-chatter’ with more breathing
4.    Remedy my oh-so-tired -eyes-that-feel-like-they’re-on-fire with eye drops
5.    NO online Scrabble just before I go to bed
6.    Find an interesting but actually quite boring book to read – for bed!
7.    Stay away from scarey movies  (as per point 1)
8.    Think before I speak when I’m feeling grumpy
9.    Embrace the wisdom of just ‘sleeping’ on a problem
10. Thank my guardian angels for surrounding me with patient people who put up with me



  1. What a fabulous read. At least you're singing good '80's songs while you're lying there awake!Thanks for sharing your life with us.


  3. Hi! Thanks for the input and the compliment! I do hope you'll continue reading and sharing your thoughts with me.. A friend who read this piece was cursing me the other morning when, jet-lagged, she woke up at 2 in the morning and started hearing Wham's "wake me up before you go-go"! Sigh.. I'm hoping for some sleep soon... x