Wednesday, 7 December 2011

On sleep and the lack of it

I'm having one of my not sleeping terribly well times. I keep waking up at 4.35am, feeling bored and going over lists in my head.

Annoyingly I've just had a period of good sleeping; whole glorious nights of deep slumber, waking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at about 6am. I say annoyingly because that phase seems to be over and I'm back to tugging fretfully at the duvet, trying to get comfortable and longing to fall into the comforting arms of oblivion.

Some of it is worry. Things that seem small irritations during the day can assume giant proportions in the middle of the night, only to dissipate with the beep of the alarm clock.

Experts talk of sleep hygiene. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every day. The latter is easy, I'm usually up and about by 6.30am having been gently awoken by my sunrise wake-up light. Going to bed at a set time is difficult with a husband who works shifts and doesn't get home until after midnight. Sometimes I can go to sleep before he comes home; sometimes I can't.

The flip side of late shifts is the earlies and it's difficult to fall back asleep when you've been awoken at 5.30am by a symphony of alarms accompanied by angry percussion from your nearest and dearest. He also has the habit of going back to sleep or forgetting to set either of his two alarms the night before. Both of these put me on red alert. I've saved him from being late for work on more than a couple of occasions now.

This leads me to the next problem; the clock in my head. It knows Brian needs to wake up at 5.30 for an early shift, so it wakes me up at 5.25am just to make sure he does.

I can shock myself back into sleeping by making myself stay up until 3am. This breaks the cycle, especially if my brain has set its internal alarm to 4.35am which it has this week. Why 4.35am? Who knows. It used to be 3.03am. Exactly. Every. Single. Night. But shock tactics are tiring and not conducive to a happy time the day after.

Not sleeping at night can turn into sleeping during the day. I have a lull at about 4pm which can turn into sleeping at 4pm if I'm not careful. I once woke up in the armchair, tucked in with a blanket and cushions. My children, preferring sleeping mummy to grumpy tired mummy, had taken the law into their own hands.

Hmm. So it will be Horlicks last thing. A wee dram is a good thing too but the cupboard is bare of such treats at the moment (austerity cuts!) Then off to bed at a sensible time with Radio 4 and a Book at Bedtime. If I see 4.35am again I may be a little cross with it.


  1. I hate when I go through a pahse of wakening up. I always eem to do it at exactly the same time each night for about a week. My great granny lived until she was 102 and swore it was because she had a drop of brandy before bed and a good nights sleep!

  2. I get most my disturbed sleep because of break through pain. Consequently end up sleeping til lunchtime some days!

    PM me your addy on FB and I'll send you some Damson Gin x

  3. it's horrible, and it's horrible when it comes A Thing since the tyranny of the fear starts taking over and it all gets a bit Groundhog Day. Then, as you say, you get the mid-afternoon slump. And without rhyme or reason. I get that half past 4 thing, suddenly, from nowhere you're jolted awake and wide awake at that. Miserable. What I do is try not to panic or get upset or resentful, I try to stay really calm and tell myself that it doesn't matter, it's still rest, it's still yummy under the duvet to try to take the edge off it becoming A Thing.
    I so hope you're let off the hook tonight!

  4. I was a chronically poor sleeper for years, so I sympathise enormously. I have no solutions, either. Once I retired, and daytime tiredness wasn't so catastrophic, I began to sleep better.

    But if an afternoon nap helps you get through, why not?

  5. Any chance of sleeping in a spare bedroom?
    Make sure your oh sets his alarm (or do it for him if that gives you more peace of mind) Meditation CD on i-pod to be used when the tiny problems of the day grow to be huge elephants blocking the door to slumber land, and keep the hands off the alcohol bottle, it may seem to help at first but it doesn't really.
    sweet dreams xxx

  6. I'm on the herbal sleeping pills at the moment, just to break the cycle (or trying). It's 3.45am with me - I shall think of you at half past - perhaps we can send each other some sleepy vibes?

    I do love the thought of your girls tucking you up! How sweet!

  7. I do so identify with the waking minutes before you need to wake. For years and years I set an alarm and never actually heard it as I always woke just before it went off. The only thing that works for me is a combination of being really tired when I go to bed (so no delicious and disorientating daytime sleeps) and a glass of wine before bed so I fall instantly. Was still awake this morning at about 4.00 but do a bit of a Milla on that and can fall asleep if I get it early enough and persuade myself that this is wonderful because there is still more sleeping to be done. Doesnt always work.
    Like Chris, I love the idea of your girls tucking you up! that's perfect.

  8. Sometimes I sleep badly too. I have a tendency to dream a lot, and I do it in a half awake state, so the ONLY thing that works for me is to COUNT. Literally, I use the counting to totally block all other thoughts that try to enter my consciousness and by concentrating on nothing else, I eventually fall sound asleep. I decided to try it as I believe that NLP and CBT techniques are very good for controlling our thoughts etc. and it does work for me. I hope this might help you too.
    Merry Christmas!


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