Friday, 8 February 2013

Insomnia and how to deal with it!

How I'd like to sleep - out cold!
Up at 1am this morning thanks to a gigantic clap of thunder.
"Great!" I think, "Third night in a row when I won't be sleeping."
I hate waking up in the middle of the night because I know that it is very likely I won't be going back to sleep in a hurry.
I have insomnia and the most common form I have is the "wake up and not go back to sleep variety". There is also the "cannot get to sleep variety" that my youngest insists he has, only for me to come into his room five minutes later and find him comatose. Wish I had his variety...
When I wake up, I try very hard to pretend I haven't woken up and sometimes within seconds I drop back off to sleep again. After the first time I will wake up several times but in essence sleep through the night. Disturbed but at least not awake.
Sometimes try as I might I am awake all night too tired to get up but too awake to sleep.
Mostly I give up after an hour or so and switch on the light and read in an attempt to 'drop off'. Sometimes I just land up reading a whole book in one gulp. I know I should try more taxing books and bore myself to sleep but it takes too much concentration and then I just get grumpy.
The real difficulty about not sleeping is the why I am not sleeping now scenario.
Once I can work out they 'why's' I am a good way to feeling more relaxed (based on its better to know rather than guess frame of mind. I have been known to stay a wake all night worrying about the reason why I am worrying enough to keep me awake all night. That's just bizarre!
So why am I awake right now?
Well I am worrying - worrying about getting my work done before half term descends and I am effectively forced to pander to my boys rather than my work. If I could pander to my boys each and every whim without worrying about work that would be bliss but that is never the case and I land up pleasing no one. So if I get all my work done I won't have to worry and I'll get a good night's sleep.
Wish it were that simple all the time.
Worry is the thing that keeps me awake
Noises, cold and hunger are the things that wake me up.
  • So eliminating noise is the first thing - I don't sleep with my husband because he snores. I keep every door shut in the house at night. I sleep in a room as far away from everybody as possible and I have a set of ear plugs. 
  • If I wake up cold first thing is a hot water bottle, fingerless gloves, extra duvet and my dear old bed socks. If it is really bad a hot bath though I have been known to fall asleep in the bath.
  • If I wake up hungry - well I have a secret cookie jar that even the dogs don't know about for emergencies only.
But the best things to get one off to a great sleep?
Eat well, no alcohol before bedtime, plenty of exercise and fresh air, a warm lavender scented bath before bed and relax.
If you do wake up work out why you've woken up then stop worrying about it and do something to relax or at least keep your brain occupied until you forget about the reason why you have woken up.
  • Try lying really still and counting slowly you have to lie still with no moving and relax while counting  - as a kid I never got much above 45.
  • The other thing is to meditate: try relaxing by talking yourself through the routine. Start with your toes and feet and imagine them being caressed by warm water just like when you first get into a delicious bath and relax all the way to the top feeling the warmth seep into every part of your body
  • Accept that you are awake and stop worrying about not sleeping 
  • Read a book
  • Have a bath
  • Don't start mithering!
Whatever you do don't try and catch up with your sleep during the day keep going until bedtime and keep a routine!


Jen Walshaw said...

I have tried everything and anything for my terrible insomnia. Nothing works for me. I was even admitted to hospital once as I hadn't slept for 4 nights and was a mess (it was after a miscarriage). They came me something, but I was asleep for all of 45 minutes!
I am learning mechanisms to help me as I get older and when things are really bad the pills come out!

Expat mum said...

I suffered terribly from insomnia as a child and remember lying awake in the dead of night way after my parents had gone to bed. The loneliest feeling. I'm still a bad sleeper now, but that's because a fly's fart (as my husband says) will wake me. At the moment I'm waking up about an hour before I need to, which, by the end of the week is a bit of a killer! (I know people might say that if I"m waking up an hour early it's because I'm ready to get up - but I'm not!)

janerowena said...

I had insomnia, it lasted for a few years and I started to take sleeping pills. After a couple of years of that they didn't work as well, so I tried all of your suggestions, plus an eye mask. It works. The eye mask is so important to me now that I think I would not be able to sleep without it. My husband says it is like sleeping with Zorro.

Kristy said...

What a timely post. I'm up in the middle of the night (3am)

Michelloui | The American Resident said...

I almost always take about an hour to get to sleep--I know that's not insomnia and I don't mind it too much. I need a notebook by the bed to write down thoughts (scribbled in the dark so I dont wake husband with a light, then deciphered in the morning!). But when stressed I reliably wake at 5 am every day for weeks which is hard. More rarely I wake at 3 and then lay there wondering if I should (like you) pretend I didn't wake--and yes, that sometimes helps me too, or just get up and make a cuppa and read.

When I am struggling to get to sleep one thing that almost always helps is remembering a time waaaay back in my 20s when I was travelling by myself by Greyhound bus across the States and it was 1 in the morning and I was somewhere near Kansas City and I was leaning against the cold metal frame of the window, back in cramp, head pounding, cold, unhappy, exhausted and being bounced around on bad roads and I promised myself that if ever in the future I was lying in a bed and had trouble sleeping I would just remember that moment and SURELY I would be able to sleep. And it works. Beds feel wonderfully cosy after experiences like that!

Aly said...

I have those night's when your brain just won't switch off and you lay awake worrying what your going to be like the next day.I usually get an over whelming need to have a nap around 2pm when it's not possible to nap.When it's bed time I'm so over tired I'm worrying about being over tired and it all starts again.I do force myself to have a couple of early nights just so i get a good stretch of sleep even if i do wake up at 3 am afterwards.

Denise Nesbitt said...

I always go to bed after hubby and hit the sack the minute I go to bed. Once asleep I am out for the count. However if the light comes on (hubby) I am awake and can't get to sleep......and wake up grumpy! But Grumpy goes back to sleep! lol!

Tattie Weasle said...

Jen - Lordy that sounds bad! Keep up with teh mechanisms.. and sleep well!
ExpatMum - no exactly how you feel about waking early! SDometiems I just look at my husband at the weekend and say sooy love I have to go to bed and I am not kidding I sleep all day and all night!
janerownea - eye mask brilliant idea!
Kristy - I do hope you got to sleep again!
Michelloui - I have been in plenty of uncomfortable places and situations a good tip to remember. Also I find a warm drink helps as well I like a gentle mug of rooibos!
Aly - don't you wish sometimes you could just unplug you brain!
Denise Nesbitt - yep the old light trick is a bit of a killer that and the hubby trying to come in quietly - they just can't do it!!!

Go on you know you want to...


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