Any one who has had any problems with sleep will empathise with what I am going through at the moment…. I am simply not SLEEPING!!! I thought in an attempt to try and feel a little less like I am going mad, I would explore my relationship with sleep over the years:
0-10: By all accounts I was NOT a good sleeper…. and when I say that I think that the main problem was with the actual going to sleep. My mum used to work nights as a nurse and so my dad was in charge of bed times. I remember distinctly sitting on the top of the stairs aged about 7/8 (on the navy blue carpet…it was the 80’s after all) wailing for my mum…. FOR. HOURS. From what I remember during one particularly painful evening, my dad ended up ringing my mum at work, which if you think about it would have been a right chore as there were no mobiles in those days…. or rather there were ‘carphones’ which had a handset attached to possibly the biggest battery in the world, making it virtually impossible to discreetly carry them around any where.
I can’t remember the actual conversation, but I imagine that it went a bit like this:
Dad: Mary, this child just won’t shut up… she just keeps wailing for you…
Mum: Not a lot I can do about it Steve when I am 2 hours into a 12 hour shift…. maybe close the door and put some ear plugs in?*
*As I said, I don’t know that actual conversation, but this is probably what I would have said!
I think I was quite a whiny child, possibly because I didn’t sleep enough, however what goes around comes around and I am being paid back in spades with child number 2 who rarely falls asleep before 2100 and then has to be lured out of bed in the mornings with a promise that breakfast is on the table and ready and waiting for him (God forbid if it isn’t ready…)
11 – 18 – Back in the day before hair straighteners and all the things that you can get nowadays to metamorphose your hair into something it is just not designed to do, I had WILD curly hair….. I’m not talking ringlets like Violet Elizabeth in ‘Just William’…. i’m talking more like a cross between Gwendoline from Wallace and Gromit (for the style) and Slash from Guns and Roses for the curls (full disclosure, I did have an immense crush on Slash all through my teenage years and wished someone would buy me a top hat like his.) Anyway, back to the sleep issue…So the reason I am sharing this is because I used to get up ridiculously early for a teenager to tame my locks into one of the two ‘on trend’ styles of the time. Either slicked back with gel into a folded pony tail at the base of my neck with two tiny rat tails trailing down my face…. or burnt to within an inch of its life with an inherited hairdryer to make it poker straight (or in my case slightly fluffy,) only to go outside into slightly moist air to have it frizz up into a Gwendoline special again. I mean every day was a battle of wills between me and my hair… and the gel pot.
At this time I was also super keen to earn money for myself and at one point I think that I was working 3 jobs over the weekends…The early shift at the local supermarket (8am starts) and then 2 different bar jobs (12pm finishes) which very often led to going out to the crazy nightclub in Knaresborough (aptly named ‘Night out’) which meant I didn’t get home until gone two on a regular occasion. I don’t even know how I remember those teenage years because between my jobs, school work and my blooming hair, I think I barely slept at all.
20 – 23 – University….I caught up on my sleep here….. I had 8 hours of lectures a week… enough said.
23 – 30 – Working at ITV, my days started at 7am and didn’t finish until 8pm. Very often the days were topped and tailed with the gym (who can forget queuing up outside the gym at 5.55am waiting for it to open with a small team of others, most of them worked at ITV also) and a drink in the local, which meant again that very often I didn’t get home until very late, only to have the alarm to go off again at 5.15 ready to start the cycle all over again. The team at ITV became my family over the years and I still keep in contact with loads of them now. We saw more of each other than we did our families and I look back with a jaded fondness of those (tired) days on set, where after 11 hours of standing around a farm in minus 3 degrees, you could always rely on someone to crack a joke to keep our spirits up and our glasses half full.
30 – 37 1/2 – Babies, sick, poo, breast feeding, teething, illness, poo, sick, toddler, sleep regression, husband who could sleep through a nuclear bomb, sleeping on a cold 5/6/7 year olds floor to get them to sleep, nightmares, sick, poo, tantrums, being kicked in the head by whichever child crawled into my bed in the middle of the night, sweaty child falling asleep on me and giving me a dead arm…. the list is endless… oh I mustn’t forget ‘waking up with anxiety that a small child hasn’t woken me up in the night yet…’ You get the picture… they say (whoever ‘they’ are) that these years are the best years of your life and for 99.9% of the time I do agree…. I would just liked to have had a tiny bit more sleep…
38 – 38 and 4 months – And then there was sleeeeeeepppppppppp. For a blessed 4 months, I think that I slept well, I went to bed at a decent time, I fell asleep with no problems at all…. I slept through most nights waking up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the world…this was it, I had nailed the sleep thing. Yes I still got up early but it was my choice… oh how naïve I was.
38 and 4 months (ongoing) – Sleep is NOT my friend, a typical night:
- Head to bed determined to sleep
- Fall asleep
- Wake up panicking about something random (not always related to ‘the eye’)
- Toss and turn for about an hour – an hour and a half
- Get fed up, get up, head downstairs (eat a banana, someone told me they were good for sleep) watch Netflix
- Fall asleep around 5am
- Alarm or small child wakes me up about 6.30…. and repeat until so exhausted, one night out of 7 I fall asleep at approx. 8pm and do not move or stir until the next morning, generally making me feel worse.
However, looking back on my sleep patterns for the last 38 years, it actually makes me feel a bit better…. I don’t think that I was designed to have that much sleep! I mean, all this nonsense about how you have to have 8 hours sleep a night…. it’s clearly never done me any harm…..
Until next time, sleep well!