Sleep used to be a delicious given in my life. I would lie down and five minutes later I would be flat out, floating in comfort through a set of twisted lovely dreams. And then life happened. Or I got old. Or ill. Or bonkers or something. And the universe stole my ability to sleep in order apparently, to force me to lie awake dwelling and worrying about all the things I cannot change.
Dear readers, it is INFURIATING. I, Alison May, am absolutely INFURIATED, by my naughty body and silly, too full head.
So last week I embarked upon MISSION SLEEP.
I downloaded the much talked about sleep app, Sleep Cycle, to my phone and lined up a collection of sleep aids on my bedside table: namely earplugs, a sleep mask, valerian sleep tablets, lavender oil, magnesium tablets, chamomile
Sleep Cycle is an app that monitors your sleep and decides when you should be gently woken by a soft tra-la-la. You pop it under your sheet and by monitoring your night-time movement and weighing up the variables of your day, it produces a graph of each nights REM and deep sleep and then awards each nights efforts a percentage according to how well or badly you slept that night.
The variables include things like whether you drank caffeine felt stressed, ate late or worked out and you can then customize it to include your own variables: in my case lavender, alcohol, sleeping tablets, sleeping alone and chamomile
The app takes five nights to really get a good grip on your sleep pattern and produce a collection of graphs describing how much sleep you get on various nights of the week, what time you go to bed, how long you sleep for and which variables have the most influence on good or bad sleep.
It is absolutely fascinating! And it all too quickly confirmed that a) my sleeping pattern is all over the place and that b) traditional sleep aids really DO make a difference.
This was my sleep cycle the first night:
The first night I went to sleep without using any of the listed sleep aids and had very little deep sleep and frequent waking moments.
The third night I slept alone because Richard was at his own house, did without caffeine all day (sad face), drank chamomile, and rubbed lavender scented almond oil into my skin before I slept. Et voila! My sleep quality shot up to 87%!
On the sixth night, we held a barbeque and I drank red wine and ate nibbly bits into the early hours and the (slightly drunk), disturbed sleep I fell into as soon as my head hit the pillow is hilarious: it is as though I died, when other nights it is clear that I struggle to catch my sleep, but of course that flat out, dead sleep was soon replaced with erratic, wakeful sleep and I woke up feeling like I had been dragged through a bush.
Finally last night, after enlisting the help of every sleep aid known to man I enjoyed a settled, blissful sleep only interrupted when I apparently woke up and had an ABSOLUTE HISSY FIT at Richard for being too hot. And not in a good way Ladies. Truth is though it is clear that I was awake at two, I do not remember shouting, and thus have convinced myself that Rich imagined it, and I merely fluttered my pretty little eyes open and uttered something charming … ahem.
~The moral of this tale? Sleeping aids make all the difference in the world, alcohol has a disastrous effect on my sleeping pattern and worst of all: the best nights sleep I had was on the nights Richard was eight miles away.
Thus, I am thinking of become a tee-total nun. Do come visit me in the convent won’t you?
Sleep and I have a love-hate relationship. I love it but it hates me. The only time in the last fifteen years I’ve slept more than four hours at a time was the night my daughter was born and the nurses took her to the nursery. I’ve tried all of the sleep aids over the years. Sadly the only thing that really worked was the drug Ambien. It gave me the sleep of the dead, I felt terrible the next day. So I just muddle along on broken sleep. I’ll still be trying to convince my daughter to nap when she’s 12, I think.
Your completely the opposite of me then. My sleep problems are/were due to peri menopause and, thankfully, are getting better. I did all the usual non prescription tricks and four years of struggle later, gave up and got the doc to prescribe low dose Zimovane that I take prn. I find I use it less and less the past few months as well.
I don’t find herbal sleep aids anything but a waste of money (slightly embarrassing considering I’m an aromatherapist) and I don’t sleep well when my OH isn’t with me. Plainly the nunnery will have manage without me.
I hope you get some relief regardless of which methods you employ because poor sleep is right up there with nutrition for kicking the crap out of you, physically and emotionally.
My sympathies Alison! Nights alone can be quite blissful really, though a dim memory for me. I gave birth to a ” poor sleeper” baby 5.5 years ago, who didn’t sleep through as in not waking three times a night until 4 and still is a very light sleeper. With low sleep need. So the sleep specialist informed me when I was just about hallucinating from sleep deprivation. She stopped napping at 18 months.
Now I find she just talks in her sleep and is restless several times a night, but the way I sleep has changed! It’s very light now, as in I find I wake up fully. She half wakes I do fully. I wished for a birthday gift of a day in bed when she was just turned 3.
And got influenza for my birthday. It was in bed, but not the cool sheets of the lovely hotel bed I was dreaming of. I absolutely adore her, she is the light of my life, but sleep. I miss it.
As I was taking in every detail of your description of your sleeping notations, I started wondering if I was a bit odd…..because I found it fascinating! I suppose we become a bit pre-occupied with sleep as we get older!
Good article. I definitely love this website. Keep it up!
Good article. I definitely love this website. Keep it up!