Do you sleep well? Are you one of those people who can fall asleep in the middle of a sentence last thing at night or do you stay awake fretting for hours, dwelling on the annoyances of the day? I’ll give you one guess which of those I am.
I’m either fretting or seething or worrying, all of which, yes, I know, are a waste of effort and time but by this point my logical brain has upped and walked away, leaving my illogical brain to stew in its own folly.
Or I find that suddenly I have a nocturnal earworm: the same phrase of, oh I don’t know, the Messiah or Kylie or whatever repeating and repeating in my ear. Then I find that my back itches in a place that I can’t scratch or I’m suddenly too hot or I have developed heavy, twitchy legs. So I stick my leg out of bed and then that becomes too cold to sleep. And I fret on.
And then I start fretting about all the sleep I’m missing and how I won’t be able to function in the morning. I shan’t be able to concentrate at my voluntary job or I’ll be rubbish on the gym treadmill. At this point I can try listing an A-Z of countries or girls’ names or vegetables (E is difficult unless you play in American.) A favourite nocturnal exercise of mine used to be listing the 50 states of the USA in alphabetical order. Sometime I start counting backwards from 100 but I invariably get down to 0 and I’m wide awake.
And then I suddenly need the loo.
I try and avoid it for a while but eventually I bow to the inevitable so up I get and toddle off to the bathroom – luckily it’s only a few steps – but I have to make an effort not to start thinking about the things I have to remind MsDD about in the morning – because she’s sure to forget -or what I shall cook for supper.
I heard a programme on the radio during the week about the effect of sleep and lack thereof on the brain. Apparently adults need between 5 and 8 hours’ sleep a night, which is just as well because I get about 6 on a good night. The programme mentioned that one of the culprits of insomnia was using screens so close to bedtime. Apparently our natural sleep conditioning has made us to evolve to wake at the bluish light of morning and grow drowsy and sleep in the reddish evening light. Computers and screens inevitably give out blue light that affects our ability to nod off. So if I ever resort to nocturnal Twitter or Words with Friends, I’m fretting that this is bad for me too.
And all the while, the OH is asleep. You see, he is one of those people that can and will fall asleep at will anywhere, “Standing up on a bloody pin,” as my offspring often quote me. I’ve often thought that his narcolepsy is an avoidance mechanism: if he’s asleep he avoids dull smalltalk. An introvert, he finds that people sap his energy and his way of dealing with this is to fall asleep immediately wherever he is. This elicits sympathy because he is obviously so exhausted. Meanwhile I force myself to stay awake and maintain the social glue or carry out the chores that need to be be done, and so maintain the facade that I’m not tired at all.
This drives me nuts, as you can imagine. It’s one of the worst feelings there is: watching in total frustration as your OH sleeps the sleep of the righteous night after night, completely oblivious to your fretting or sniffles.
At the moment I am addled with my allergies. Last night I woke nose blocked and sneezing loudly at 2am. I took an anti-histamine and tried to go to sleep. For four hours I tried and then, just as I dropped off, as usual a particularly noisy aeroplane turned over our house for its final descent to wretched London Heathrow. I tried to drop off again but the dog woofed because the decorator turned up at 7.15. Eventually I gave up, rose and started the day. With coffee.