Thursday, 23 April 2009

A Long Night's Journey into Day

Did you sleep well last night? Yes? Good! Did you sleep well the night before that, too? Yes? Even better!

I quite simply can’t remember the last time I had a “decent” night’s sleep – and my idea of the length of a “decent night” may well be somewhat shorter than yours. I would be just SO happy to sleep for 4 or 5 hours each night but, for the past month or so, I’ve felt lucky if I’ve dozed off for about 3 hours and more often than not, I’ve managed barely 2 hours at most. I suffer from insomnia.

I’ve always been a “night owl” and, after 15 years of marriage, DH is now getting used to passing me on the stairs during the wee, small hours. His work often involves having to leave the house extremely early in the morning and he really does need a full 8 hours if he’s to function sensibly. If I go up at a “reasonable” hour, I can’t read in bed as light disturbs him and I end up tossing and turning which also isn’t conducive to his sleep patterns. So, I have a habit of just staying up until he’s about ready to rise.

“The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world”

I can’t say I really feel “superior” about being so wakeful – however creative I may be during the night, I’m no match for Leonard Cohen but I don’t actually mind being awake at night ... and never have done. I like the peace and the quiet. It’s the only part of the day that I own! The telephone doesn’t ring, I don’t receive text messages that need urgent attention, DH doesn’t disturb me by giving me a running commentary on a TV programme that we’re both watching and The Joshua isn’t chuntering at me.

The hours of darkness are mine and I’m usually quite productive during them ... I read, do a crossword, write, listen to music, occasionally watch TV if there happens to be something worthwhile seeing on – but I also like the opportunity to sleep in the following day in order to catch up. DH, if he’s here is actually pretty accommodating in this regard and will often just “leave me be” until I happen to wake up – but most of the time I have no option but to get up (if I’ve actually made it to bed in the first place) and join in with “normal” people during “their” hours. And that’s hard!

This week, with DH once again in Europe, I felt as if I simply had to take some action and went to see my GP who was most sympathetic and prescribed a course of Temazepam for me. I’m not a great fan of sleeping tablets, but last night I did take the suggested dose. I suppose they may be working because I managed just over 3 hours.

A friend had told me that the world would seem a better place if I had some sleep. I have to say it still seemed pretty awful when I switched on the 7.00am News this morning ... and I felt like taking the tablets back to the chemist and demanding a refund of the prescription fee! Tonight, I’ve again taken the recommended dosage and I’m at last starting to feel that bed might just be the right place for me!

So, if you happen to pass a pale person with eyes that resemble “p**s holes in the snow” and who is acting in a slightly detached fashion – not really able to concentrate and not enormously communicative it could be me ... suffering from either insomnia or a Temazepam hangover. I’ll be the one who is letting just about everything “get” to her and who is seemingly incapable of making a rational decision about anything at all! I’m not unfriendly when I’m like this – but I’m not all that easy to cope with either! Perhaps best to leave it until mid/late afternoon to tell me anything that I need to remember – as that’s when I start to rally from the confused misty haze of the previous night’s wakefulness. I get “second wind” at about 10.30pm and that’s when I feel most “on the ball”.

Anyway, it’s coming up to 1.30am and – yawn – I’m closing down now and feeling quite hopeful of about 5 hours “uninterrupted” tonight. I hope you’ll have had a “decent” night, too!

“O sleep, O gentle sleep, nature’s soft nurse, how have I frightened thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down and steep my senses in forgetfulness?”
Henry IV – Part 1: William Shakespeare


  1. I dont sleep well either but never worry about it ,just think I dont need as much sleep as everyone else .My ipod saves me if I want to stay in bed .

    I am more or less wiped out by 3.00pm but think that my be diet .

    I wish I could write like you .You cant have everything . sleep and ability that would be greedy ....

    More than once Ive been up at 4.00am when my children have come in from a night out thats not good !

  2. I am amazed by your ability to retain such a high level of coherence while suffering such a bad bout of insomnia. I can't think clearly enough to write after about 4 days!

    I think there should be shift patterns for life - that way we could live in towns devoted to nocturnal creatures like ourselves and stop feeling like outcasts.

    I sleep naturally from 6am onward - as does my mother - and have been like this all my life. Doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon!

    I think you might have missed your calling - if insomnia boosts your sense of the surreal you could write the next budget!!!

  3. Lizzy, The idea of writing the next budget in a state of insomnia induced surrealism appeals enormously. I would obviously take from the rich & give to the poor & would call myself Robin (40)Hood (Winks). Would you care to be my assistant?

  4. I am currently suffering from insomnia, usually I can go to bed about midnightish but at the minute it's half oneish and getting up for seven! Not my favourite and doesn't make me the most tolerant mummy in the world lol luv Karen x

  5. We moved house in January and for the first couple of months I found myself unable to sleep. Before that I could sleep on a clothes-line (as the old expression goes). Back to relative normality now. It was probably a lot to do with being in a strange house with all the different sounds, etc.

    Karen, just make sure you don't confuse temazepam with marzipan next time you're half asleep and trying to make a cake!

  6. I am also an insomniac and have tried just about everything bar prescription drugs, which, I fear, are only a few restless nights away.

    My favourite is when well-meaning friends suggest I simply take a soak in the tub then read for a while in a lavender-scented bed - if only!

  7. Once again hun - such a good post cos it's spot on the button. :-) I too have trouble sleeping but have a few tricks to help me. Normally if I wake up I find that my mind is kicking in with 5 mins and I'm mulling business ideas or thoughts over in my head. Once this happens I tend not to be able to go back to sleep so I keep a note pad and pen beside the bed and have now "trained" myself (usually in half sleep now too!) to write down what I'm thinking of and shut it away 'til the morning work hours.
    I've also found that my sleep patterns changed drastically with the dawning of a new season - Winter to Spring and Autumn to Winter being the worse two. So now after try Tpans too and finding them useless I use herbal tablets called "nightols" which work a blooming treat to kick start my body into a more regular sleeping pattern. But in fairness I'm actually not too fussed at not sleeping too well as I too love that quite and peaceful "me" time in the middle of the night or very early morning. No cars, kids, phones, or hubby's nagging just me, myself and peace and quite to read, sew or just sit and make lists of things to do. Ahhh...bliss! :-)

  8. It's 22:41 so I'll be pretty brief since I too will have a few hours sleep waking at c 03:00 mind racing with ideas, worries, ideas and more worries.
    Luckily though for me this is not a regular feature as usually I'm more akin to your DH and sleep deeply from head on pillow to wake up time (which seems to be whatever time I decide it to be before nodding off).
    Just at this time of year when spring is really bursting I seem to sleep badly.
    They say the darkest hour is just before dawn - well Mama Cass did! However, the darkest 3 hours are just before my dawn :-) Yawn.
    Enough of me though save to say I have found solace and sleep in my trusty IPOD onto which I have loaded a number of excellent meditation podcasts from a variety of sources.
    They work really well and I'll be happy to supply details of them if you (or any other night owl) wish.
    For now I wish you sweet dreams during the hours you do sleep and productive waking time that you can call your own.
    Just think, if you slept 8 hours you might not find the time to write your excellent blog. In the words of Eric Idle "Always look on the bright side of life" :-)

  9. I'm 4 hours if I'm lucky. I've always been a night owl but I find that my brain doesn't stop and even though the body is tired I just keep going. And even though I'm tired I can go to bed and suddenly I'm wide awake again. I'd say I fall asleep from 2.30am - 4am and then child is up most days at 6.30am - 7.30am. I struggle to get up in a morning but everyday I still do it.

    I've tried everything but nothing works so I just make do on very little sleep.