Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sleep tight...or not.

Okay, so the decaf tea before bed-time doesn’t work either. Neither does the hot camomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea, hot milk, drinking alcohol, not drinking alcohol. Nothing helps – exercising during the day, not exercising, milky drinks, earplugs, a fan, a mask, reading, listening to music. We invested in a Tempra mattress, (the memory foam mattress developed originally for NASA.) It cost a fortune and is very comfortable in a sinking in, sliding, body moulding kind of way. But it doesn’t help the sleep problem.

I never used to have any difficulty sleeping and it’s not actually getting off to sleep that’s a struggle. I’ve developed a habit over the last couple of years - that’s what it is - it’s simply a habit, but I can’t get out of it. I stir in the night. My brain clicks into action ahead of my eyes that are desperately willing themselves to stay shut. But the brain whirrs and whirrs until I have a ‘virtual list’ of worries, two sides of A4 paper, and there’s not a chance of getting back to sleep. By this time, my eyes won’t stay shut, and will continue to roll open like a Tom and Jerry cartoon until I get up.

Top of the list at 2.30 am today:-
- Amending my internet shopping before the 1pm deadline the day before delivery.
- GCSE Science (my eldest is in the throes of exams.)
- My Take That tickets (when will Ticketmaster send them out.)
- Editorial on the Village Newsletter.
- The opening sentence of my novel.
- The plot of a short story I’m working on.
- Chase the electrician.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but enough to get me out of bed, turn the PC on, make a cup of tea (herbal, of course,) and scribble down yet another ‘To do’ list. If not, I would only lay in bed with my Victor Meldrew head on, becoming more agitated and peeved at not being able to sleep, tossing and turning watching the illuminated clock on the barn ceiling flash at me, and waiting for ‘Puffer Billy’ by the side of me to snore so I can brain him.

Try counting sheep, I hear you say. Counting bouncy, little hyperactive sheep leaping over a fence is never going to work for me. I could hear the little buggers bleating on the field in the middle of the night when I got up. Take it from me, counting sleeping sheep is likely to be much more effective, only not for me.

Everyone I speak to about my problem has a suggestion. Here are some you probably won’t have heard of before:-

Sleep with your head facing north - And unless you have a particularly unusual body, your feet facing south. This aligns your body with the magnetic field of the planet, bringing your own energies into harmony with those of the Earth. Bizarre but apparently true.
Don't Watch TV or Read Before Going to Bed - opposite advice to watching TV or reading before going to bed.
Toe Wiggling – aids relaxation. Hmmm.
Stomach Rubbing – Evidently soothes down the digestive system and helps to bring about a deeper relaxation. An extra benefit is that it will help you to lose weight by improving the functioning of the digestive system. As if.
Progressive relaxation - Feel your feet. Feel the weight of your feet. Feel your feet relax and sink into the bed. Feel your lower legs. Feel the weight of your lower legs. Feel your lower legs relax and sink into the bed. Feel your knees. Feel the weight of your knees. Feel your knees relax and sink into the bed... you get the idea. Mentally scan your body. If you find any place that's still tense, relax it and let it sink into the bed. By the time you feel your hands, you’ll be bored out of your head and glad to get to sleep.
Deep Breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Or is it the other way around?
Visualize Something Peaceful
Visualize Something Boring
Quiet Ears - an ancient Eastern meditation as well as a method of falling asleep. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, fingers interlocked, and your palms cupping the back of your head. Get as relaxed as possible (it may take a little while to get used to.) Place your thumbs in your ears so that you are pressing the outer flap of your ear and blocking the entrance to the ear canal. Lie quietly and listen for a high-pitched sound that you will gradually hear inside your head. Lay for ten – fifteen minutes, concentrating on that sound. Then put your arms to your sides and go to sleep. (Don't worry about the ringing in your ears – its natural.)
Sex - Alone or with others.
Imagine Coloured animals - Sounds silly but it is supposed to work (just not for me.) Visualize animals in the wrong colours. For example, purple cow, green sheep, red pig, and so on. After coming up with a colour and animal combination, actually visualize it and then I move on to the next one. Coming up with the combinations and then trying to picture the animal is supposed to keep the mind occupied and distracted from whatever stressful thoughts were keeping you awake. Or it will bore you to sleep quickly.
Imagine It's Time to Get Up – works every time.

You see, when I told you I’d tried everything I wasn’t lying. Unfortunately, for me, there are only two options left to try. The first is to buy myself a bottle of ‘Night Nurse’ and have twenty mls every evening before bedtime for the next week in the hope that I can knock myself out and break the habit. It’s as good as sleeping tablets and saves a trip to the doctors.

Alternatively, I could give in to it. When I wake up I don’t lie there and toss and turn. Only use my bed for sleep and sex. The trouble is, there’s not much of the latter either, because I’m too knackered.

Good luck! Pleasant dreams.

Until another day
Bye for now


mountainear said...

Hi Angel - good to be reading you again.

I shall try some of your sleep tips - I have no problem getting off to sleep. It's the staying asleep that beats me. Always seem to have it cracked though by getting-up time!

Cait O'Connor said...

Glad you're back writing. If (rarely) I wake in the night and can't sleep I make a hot drink and sometimes log on to Purplecoo for an hour. I usually get back to bed and sleep afterwards especiallly if I get a little cold. I'm not implying Purplecoo is boring, I would say it's comforting in a way.

KittyB said...

Nice to see you Angel! Lovely new blog, will follow with interest

snailbeachshepherdess said...

hello stranger - lovely to see you back - verrrrry smart blog page - love the pic.
If you wake up - get up - do something constuctive for about an hour - warm drink and zzzzzzzzz. The worst thing is to try and beat it - ignore it, do something else and try again.
hope those exams are going OK, only one left on this side of the hills

Frances said...

Angel, in years past I also had that sleep interruption you describe, and have tried all your listed relaxation techniques. A favorite of mine was imagining that I had just arrived at Heathrow after an overnight flight, and jet lagged was taking the Tube into central London. I would try to connect with that grogginess, and try to remember each and every station name. My variation on the sleep theme.

Nowadays, or is it nowanights, I sleep well, and hope that you will, too.

Your just previous post was also thought provoking.

I will be returning regularly to visit. xo

Milla said...

I get this a lot, usually around 4 in the morning. The birds are crashing about, light's growing. I've learnt not to get frustrated (although I am) and just to lie there and be grateful that I am resting and not having to "do" anything. not fighting it is the most successful route for me. It doesn't always work, but 9 times out of 10. The other thing I do is go through the alphabet listing a different plant for each letter. The furthest I've had to go is 4x round. Couldn't poss count sheep because my sheep are very ill-behaved and scuttle off and I get stressed controling them.

Olivia Ryan said...

I'm just popping in to say you have my sympathy. I went through a long period of having this problem and I really don't know what to suggest - I think you just have to find whatever's the best way of dealing with it for you, everyone's different. But it will pass - just believe that. You will suddenly realise you've started sleeping better and you get less & less bad nights. Meanwhile try not to stress about it. Maybe use the time to make notes for a story or book?

ChrisH said...

Hello Dear Heart - nice to find a post from you (and don't you look glam). I really enjoyed the previous post too - I'm using the beautiful notebook Rose bought me for my birthday as my 'Running' diary after putting away for 'something special' - I keep a supply of Wilko notebooks for everyday writing - what does that say about my self worth! Sleep - hmm, ticky. Yeps, I'd go with breaking the cycle - I keep a bottle of Kalms in for just that. Good luc - and sleep tight.

bodran... said...

Hey mrs blue stocking, i wondered who you were for a minute..I'm always up for a ludlow meet up so i hope to see you soon.xx A very enigmatic photo by the way ..Ps i always pretend its time to get up, works sometimes.xx

seashell cosmos said...

come back to this desperately searching for help with this sleep problem. That list!!! oh just noticed my comment here, the date, and hope your doing better with sleeping now? I guess we always have those lists, right? Take care :)