I’ve just had ten nights of amazing sleep. Fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting the pillow, woke up between eight and nine hours later feeling refreshed. Total bliss.
It’s not always like this.
I’m pretty sure the last ten nights were because I was sleeping in a big bed, on my own, in one of the quietest places known to me, and it was pitch black. And I was relaxed. Very relaxed.
Unlike at home when I’m usually stressed because of work, life, whatever. I’m also sharing a bed with The Accountant – who either breathes LOUDLY or snores, who has been known to pinch the doona, who has an alarm that often blasts me out of bed between 3.30-5am, and who, until recently, had a glow-in-the-dark alarm clock. And no, separate bedrooms are not an option, although I have considered it. Often.
No wonder I have had many horrible bouts of insomnia. I have no idea what causes it, but let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Not pretty for me. Not pretty for The Accountant. Not pretty for anyone I have dealings with for the period of time I’m struggling with it.
I tend to grapple most with this affliction when:
- I’m unusually stressed
- I’m overtired – I know, ironic or what?
- there is a seasonal weather change
- I’m overly hormonal – hello peri-menopause, I’m really not liking you much.
Unlike many insomniacs, I’ve never actually had trouble falling asleep. Of course, there is the occasional exception to this, but at least 99% of nights I’m asleep within about 20 seconds of turning off the light.
My insomnia tends to strike between 1am and 3am. And it can last for hours. I usually fall asleep again about thirty minutes before my alarm shatters the silence. And yes, that is seriously annoying.
Even more annoying is that it isn’t usually just one night. It tends to be night after night after night. And then it just stops and sleep becomes uninterrupted again.
I’d love to think I can predict these little bouts, but I can’t.
I can tell you, that I really, really hate the first night it happens, as mostly that indicates I’ll have many more sleepless nights to come. And let me tell you, that’s pretty cruel for a girl who needs her eight hours a night.
There are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years to deal with this, and to attempt to combat the worst of it:
- About an hour before going to bed drink a herbal tea – my favourite has a blend of chamomile, mint and a few other things. Try not to drink it (or anything) less than an hour before bed. The last thing you want is to wake up at 3am desperately needing to go to the loo!
- Try not to have alcohol for at least two or three hours before going to bed – while it might help you fall asleep, I find that if I drink more than a glass or two of wine I tend to wake up at 3am.
- Eat a simple dinner – the nights I have rich food (hello pork belly!) are the nights I know I’ll be awake for a few hours while it all digests…
- I try and read in bed for at least thirty minutes every night. I don’t always succeed, but I try. It’s better to read a “real” book rather than a book on an electronic device.
- I really, really, really need a dark room to sleep in. I recently managed to get rid of The Accountant’s glow-in-the-dark alarm clock and my sleep patterns have improved remarkably. This thing was brighter than a night light. Ridiculous.
When I do wake up in the middle of the night I tend to give myself a timeframe to fall back to sleep. However after about 45 minutes if I’m still counting sheep, I often get up. I might have a cup of tea, read a book, lie on the couch staring into space and cursing the insomnia Gods, or watch tv. I’m normally ready to go back to bed within an hour and often will fall back to sleep. Sporadic though it might be.
If I’m wide awake any time after about 4am I usually just get up and start the day. And hope that I can squeeze a nap in later in the day. And yes, sometimes later in the day is 8am.
If all else fails, I dig out my old economics textbook. That assures slumber within seconds.
What about you? Do you struggle with insomnia? Or the occasional sleepless night? What are your tips and tricks?
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