Sleep and I. We don’t have the best relationship. We haven’t for years. I can’t get enough of it. No, literally, I can’t get enough and it’s becoming an obsession. I think about sleep all day, I fantasise about it, I love it, and yet I’m no good at it. I’m the worst sleeper. And we all know when you don’t have a good night’s sleep it affects the entire family dynamic.
Yes, I do have three children so naturally a good night’s sleep is a thing of the past, but you know the sad part? The kids don’t even wake me up that often! My seven-year-old sleeps all night long, my four-year-old does too, albeit the odd night terror here or there, and my eight-month-old, well I can’t complain about him either, really. He doesn’t feed during the night anymore and occasionally he just grunts every now and again or needs some repositioning in his cot.
It’s my mind that keeps me awake. The constant tabs that are open that I cannot close. It’s the thinking of all the things I have to do, all the things I worry about, all the things I don’t need to be thinking about at 2am. I struggle to switch off my mind and this compromises any kind of chance I have of getting into a deep, long, uninterrupted sleep.
Then, because I am in a light sleep everything wakes me up. AND I MEAN EVERYTHING. Some nights I wake up 10-15 times and I have no idea why I even woke up. From my hubby snoring, rolling over, breathing loudly, coughing, to the monitor turning on from a squeak Jacob made, to the wind outside, I hear it all.
And then there’s the night’s where I swear someone somewhere is toying with me. Laughing at me, saying “you know how you don’t sleep much anyway? Well, here’s a few more things to wake you up, you know, just to shake things up a little.” Like the new neighbours who moved in at the back of us. They have THE loudest voices EVER! And a loud spa, so of course they have to speak and laugh and project their shenanigans loudly over the sounds of the spa. And then they like to throw their bottles across the backyard into the bin. That’s always a nice sound to wake up to when you’ve just nodded off to sleep.
Then there was the time a stupid loud bird decided to reside in the tree out the front of my bedroom window. If I didn’t get nickname “crazy lady” during that period of my life then I must have gone unnoticed. I’m sure the bird would have been laughing when I ran outside in my PJ’S and tried to throw sticks at it while yelling “SHUT UP DICKY BIRD, PISS OFF!”.
Mice. They were next. Scampering about behind the blinds in my room. Every night for a week at the same time, 2.30am, I would hear them. My husband, when I woke him up annoyed that he couldn’t hear it, said it was something outside the window. Nope, I supersonic hearing, I knew it inside. Low and behold a pest controller confirmed my suspicions.
Cat fights. A frog repeatedly jumping into the window (seriously I’m not joking!). A piece of tarp flapping in the wind and hitting the caravan. A tree branch scraping on the gutters, a bird flying over that weirdly sounds like it says “Mum”, bats in the palm trees, a child sneezing. You name it, I hear it and my eyes snap open as if I wasn’t even asleep in the first place. Sometimes even a dream will wake me up! Recently I dreamt Osher Gunsberg fell off a stage and I jumped up to try and break his fall. He fell anyway.
I’m sure most of these things happen to everyone. I’m sure these things happen nightly but most people don’t even notice because they are sleeping soundly. I listen to my husband heavily breathing next to me and I feel so envious of his ability to sleep anywhere, anytime at any hour. How did I, an insomniac, manage to marry someone who has the most amazing sleeping abilities to the point where he’s been mid sentence and fallen asleep… sitting upright. He fell asleep once in London during the Lion King production, even Zazu flying around the audience shrieking, “Now Scar, don’t look at me that way, HELP!”, didn’t stir him.
But the thing is, I am an insomniac and an over-thinker/worrier because I have GAD. Generalised Anxiety Disorder. And Anxiety does not like to sleep. It buzzes, all night long. As I lay down I can feel my body and my mind buzzing. Buzzing with too many thoughts. Too many feelings. And when I do sleep, it’s light, it’s disturbed, its dream filled.
So, as Sarah Wilson suggests in her book about her own anxiety journey; First, we make the beast beautiful, I have to learn to lay in my anxiety. I have to learn to sit with it and not fight against it. I have to learn to accept it and my insomnia and not get so frustrated when I try to sleep at night, or when I wake for tenth time. I have to learn to live with it. It’s time to take control.
As part of #mayisforme, I am trying to do just that. It’s my #mayisforme greatest challenge. I’ve developed (thanks to countless googling and many nights of experimenting and documenting my best/worst nights and why this pattern occurs) my own sleep regime. What do I need to do ensure I get a better night’s sleep (and my Gawd sometimes I feel like it’s more difficult than the kids bedtime routine! #highmaintenancewoman) ?
I have made some changes this month, tried to put my sleep first, and here’s what natural remedies I have found help…
Next task on my list, which I haven’t the balls to do just yet, get rid of the bloody baby monitor…
Are you an insomniac? Do you have any other natural tips that could help me and other suffering insomniacs??