Many people ask me how it is that I can fit so much into each day. Well, the reason is probably insomnia.
- I have battled to sleep all my life. It started from when I was little, when my parents used to tiptoe around when I was trying to sleep, keeping everything in the house dark and quiet. This means that, even now, I struggle to sleep when it is even slightly noisy or light.
- I have a job with very irregular hours. Some days I go from 7am to 10pm. Some days from 1pm to 1am. I never know what the next day will bring. So my bedtime is almost never the same two days in a row.
- I need to be extremely concentrated all the time I am working which means I find it very hard to wind down when I am finished. I am also hyperactive all the time, multi-tasking and thinking about all kinds of things. It helps me to juggle all the different tasks I have but it is not good for winding down before bedtime.
- I live in a country which is almost always light in summer and almost always dark in winter. This is very difficult for my body rhythms. In summer the birds singing all night drive me nuts!
- I am also reaching the age where I need less sleep.
- I never get tired. Somewhat like a Duracell Bunny, I power along on nervous energy until I just totally burn it off and stop.
- I have cats who have the 4am crazies.
- I don’t struggle to stay asleep or wake very early. I just cannot GET to sleep. I start to think, to worry, to worry about how soon I have to get up…
I have tried everything to sleep:
- cool, dark bedroom
- no TV or computer in the bedroom
- warm baths
- milk before bedtime
- relaxation tapes
- white noise machines
- calcium and magnesium
- lapis lazuli
- keeping a notepad next to my bed so I can jot things down that I worry about forgetting
- no tea, coffee or alcohol close to bedtime (though I only drink about three times a year and that is just wine with meals, and I only have one cup of coffee in the morning at work. I don’t have coffee in the house)
- sleeping tablets (Ambien/Zolpidem/Stilnoct). They work like a bomb and I love them but you build tolerance to them so cannot take them long term. My problem is not staying asleep but getting to sleep. Once I am asleep I am fine.
What has worked:
- JawBone UP24. This is not 100% accurate but it is very reassuring to realise that even on nights when it feels that you have not slept a wink, that you actually have.
- The book Sov Gott! (Swedish only) which is CBT-based. I did not benefit so much from the CBT exercises, but the whole point of the book is that one or a few bad night’s sleep are not life threatening. So you slept badly – as long as you can function well enough to get through the day it is not a disaster. This helped me to stop worrying about not sleeping and in turn helped me to sleep better.
- Nat Mur 30C tablets. One of the teachers I work with is a homeopath. A few months ago during the lunch break of an intensive course we were teaching, he looked at me and asked me if I was okay as I had dark circles under my eyes and was very pale. I told him I was battling to sleep. He knows me quite well and he took about 20 minutes to give me a consultation and then gave me a bottle of these. Told me to take two a day and since that day I have been sleeping like a bomb. I considered it being a placebo effect but I don’t believe in natural remedies normally and I was sure 100% it wouldn’t work. But it did.
I think anyone who has ever suffered from insomnia, even temporarily, knows how lonely the world is when everyone but you seems to be in the land of Nod. And probably how weepy, defeated and depressed you can feel after just a few broken nights. How your smallest worries turn into mastodons thundering through your brain.
I would be so keen to hear of other people’s experiences and tips.