Day 4 and I’m up at 5am, sleepless & restless as I like to do a few times a week. I have generally had insomnia on and off most of my life. I think it started when I was 10 (its not like I was on a diet of coke & coffee at that age) and the worst was when I was in my final year at Uni.
I had a lot on my plate at that time which probably helped kick it up again. I was heavily recruiting & training students for a summer program (SouthWestern) in my final year, representing my Uni in a sport, working at Oddbins wine merchants, had hubby visiting every 10 days etc. Of course with fewer hours in the day to get stuff done, I suddenly got very good at actually doing the studying I needed to do because I knew what the rest of my week had in store – if I didn’t do it then that time was lost forever. They do say ‘give the task to the busiest person if you want to get it done’. Funnily enough my written grade jumped up 20% in my final year which says something about all the studying I thought I had done in my previous 2 years! All of this was compounded by the road works outside my bedroom window (audible still with earplugs) which they had to do at night as it was on a major road… oh yes and the chinchilla my mum bought me as a gift for my final year. It was a lovely gift and the pet was adored, unfortunately it had to stay in my room most of the time and I soon discovered it was nocturnal!
So I somehow passed my final year successfully but I did so in a semi daze. Looking at each element, there probably were things I could have tried but realistically you hope, you pray – that the insomnia will just pass. Why go to the hassle reporting the road works when they could finish tomorrow? I didn’t have to work so hard at recruiting in my final year, it was my personal choice etc. But, I’m a driver and I knew there were things I wanted to get done.
My life eventually got into the pattern of:
- Waking ages ahead of my alarm but laying in bed exhausted & hopeful (a bit like now)
- Lots of coffee to try to counter balance the wine or valerian root I’d had the night before
- Off to a packed day of lectures/recruiting/revising/gym, with the additions on certain days of hubby/Oddbins and friends?! Yes, not often but they did feature.
- Bed around 11pm. It sounds reasonable but the truth was bedtime was met with a mixture of relief and fear. Relief I’d got there at last and that I could get some rest, but fear because I knew I had several hours alone inside my head. Several hours of exhaustion, frustration, thinking time I didn’t need and often thinking that went round in circles.
In the end my solution? There was none, I had to wait til the end of the year. I tried most things: exhaustion through sport, valerian root, periods with no tea or coffee, night caps, bed time routines, not working too late, reading in bed etc. My brain just kept ticking.
These days I’m much better but it still creeps up on me from time to time. The small things I do now to help:
- Sport but earlier in the day
- One tea or coffee before 12noon
- Nothing too sugary before bed
- I have a cut off period, work stops when I leave the office
- Normal healthy diet
- To bed same time most days
- Limited alcohol consumption
Of course our little miracle likes to wake me up now through movement. And I’m never sure if I’ve woken up because I’m hungry or I become aware I’m hungry because I’ve woken up. Good news being of course now I’m on mat. leave… I can go back to bed for a bit.
Today is Friday and I blissfully have nothing planned. So I could go swimming… but i might not.
- Word of the Day | insomnia (learning.blogs.nytimes.com)