Insomnia. So bloody cruel. And right now, it is well and truly kicking my arse.
I’m not sure when my trouble with sleeping started. My youngest two girls were awful sleepers. Well actually, awful would be an understatement. Between the two of them, I didn’t have a full nights sleep for over six long years. But it was probably about this time last year that they were both finally sleeping through the night and SO WAS I! It was an absolute revelation. From time to time, I would have trouble sleeping but I just put it down to my poor body being conditioned to get zero sleep for so long. That occasional time turned into something much more frequent though and within the last six months or so, what used to be the odd night having trouble falling to sleep, has seemingly spiralled into the hell that is insomnia. I am broken.
I’ve tried all of the obvious tips of course. Relaxing before bed, having a long soak in the bath, hot milky drink, avoiding screen time, not eating or exercising too late at night and we have always had a no tv or gadget rule in the bedroom. I make a real effort to limit my caffeine intake to one or two coffees during the day (despite the lure of my Nespresso machine) then switch to decaff come the afternoon school run.
When you have older children who can’t be packed off to bed at seven on the dot anymore, you basically lose your evenings. You think that the baby days are tough? Try having teenagers seriously, it’s relentless! It’s important to me and Mr Mostly to spend time together child free though, even if it is just cuddling on the sofa and watching a film but before we know it, it’s midnight. I guess that doesn’t help my sleep situation but in all honesty, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice our evenings for an early night (well, to sleep that is!) as they mean too much to me. Besides which, I couldn’t attempt to go to sleep at say ten o’clock even if I tried. I need some proper time to wind down plus how could I sleep knowing that my teens were still awake? Never going to happen.
It’s all just terribly frustrating. There is nothing quite as cruel as not being able to get to sleep when you are beyond tired. Just the thought of not being able to get to sleep that night makes me feel anxious. And that anxiety grows and grows throughout the day keeping me awake at night of course. It’s such a vicious cycle and one that I just don’t know how to stop.
I have worries of course I do but no more than anybody else and certainly nothing that should be keeping me awake at night. Saying that, even the tiniest of worries seem so much bigger at two o’clock in the morning. I avoid sleeping in or having a nap later in the day (although the temptation is of course huge) but on the worst of worst days, I do grab a fifteen minute nana nap in the afternoon because to be honest if I didn’t, I think I might die of exhaustion. Can you actually die of exhaustion? Sigh.
A typically bad night for me, will see me going to bed at midnight and still being wide awake by one o’clock. Lots of huffing and puffing later, I might get back up and come downstairs to distract myself until I feel tired. Reading is good, as is polishing or folding laundry. (It’s quite hard thinking of quiet jobs, you’d be surprised at how loud the simplest of things are in the dead of the night, even the steam of the iron!) I tend to stay in the living room where there are no clocks as silly as that sounds. But there is nothing more stressful than seeing what time it is and working out how much sleep you’re not having that night. I can sometimes feel sleepy within the hour (this would be seen as a good night) but I’m more likely to be up until after four o’clock then I will fall back into bed only to be woken by my stupid body clock before seven. Argh! Three hours sleep is typical of a bad night for me and it just can’t carry on. I can barely function.
I tend to have a run of bad nights then out of nowhere, I will have a good night. Honestly, more than six hours sleep and I feel like a new woman! But the problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why or when I will have a bad or good night. The run of good nights will never last for as long as the bad plus even on a good night, my sleep is usually still unsettled so it’s not always a full nights sleep. My doctor’s solution is to medicate the problem. But this isn’t a route I want to go down for now, as it could only ever be a temporary fix. Pills to make me sleep at night then pills to dampen my anxiety to keep me in a zombified state during the day? As desperate as I am, no thank you. I’m doing a good enough impression of a zombie all by myself.
So I’m doing what I do best. I’ve started to keep a journal listing e v e r y s i n g l e t h i n g that I think might make a difference. Hopefully over a week, a month or even longer, I might be able to work out what could be causing it. Or more to the point, figure out what I might be doing differently on the good days so that I can start having more of them. It’s got to be worth a try, surely? Here’s hoping anyway.
This has been such a difficult post for me to write and if anyone can offer any advice, no matter how small, you don’t know how grateful I would be. I can’t help but think that I must be missing something. My mind is so busy latching on to the tiniest of details that I can’t help but think that I’m not seeing something blindingly obvious. Or maybe that’s just my anxiety talking. See what I mean about the vicious cycle thing? Ugh.