Insomnia…urgh

Insomnia is a big battle in my life. It has been for over a year and a half. I can’t remember exactly when it started being an issue, but it’s certainly been a significant problem since last summer – after I got back from the States. What I put down to jetlag at first soon proved to be more; I was having night after night of not getting to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning, feeling absolutely shattered and miserable and a little bit like I was going mad.

I love and need my sleep. My bed is a special place of rest and comfort, and constant nights of tossing and turning were making me hate it, and feel anxious about bedtime for fear that I wouldn’t sleep at all…. so I started making a concerted effort to monitor my sleep around the autumn.

I have struggled with PMS since the beginning of my degree, and it has gotten worse over time, and for the last few years I’ve used an App to track my cycle and my emotional ups and downs. It has been extremely helpful to be able to check the App and note where I am in the cycle, and suddenly have it all make sense why I feel sad for no reason, irrational and snappy, or anxious with none of my triggers happening.

I was already using the App to note my moods, and I started using it to keep a note of whether I’d slept well or had disrupted sleep, if i’d struggled to get to sleep or gone off easily.

I matched my sleep patterns up with my App and recognised that my insomnia was waaaayyyyy worse at certain times of the month. I went to see my GP who said that yes, insomnia is another delightful symptom of PMS and suggested I start taking the pill… so I did.

It helped massively with the emotional rollercoaster, but not so much with the sleeping. Having said that; feeling emotionally well definitely helps with managing sleep deprivation!

Then came a bad period at work which really triggered my PTSD, and along with that a run of nights where I would barely get a few hours’ sleep in the early hours of the morning, having struggled the whole night and driven myself crazy with anxiety and all the yuck that comes with PTSD. I spoke to the pharmacist who suggested Nytol as a short term solution to getting back into a good sleep rhythm.

Woah are those things effective… one tablet and I was out like a light within 20 minutes and slept the whole night through! Proper, restful, But, I didn’t like the concept of having to take a tablet to sleep – so I made sure I only took them a couple of times a week, and only if it got to midnight and I was still not asleep (I go to bed around 10pm on weeknights) That way, I got a few good nights’ sleep each week but was still tired on other days and had a good level of actual tiredness that let me get to sleep!

I managed to get into a relatively normal sleep pattern again, and only taking the tablets on a Sunday night (to make sure I could get a good nights’ sleep for work the next day)

I also did some self-analysis into things that helped me sleep or hindered it. I discovered that I can’t sleep if I’m cold, but I also can’t sleep if I’m too hot! (I have three different bed covers right now and use different combinations of each of them depending on how I’m feeling.) I sometimes like a thinner cover but it also needs to have a bit of weight to it! (I am such a contradiction terms) My hot water bottle is my friend!

I can’t sleep if I’m even the slightest bit hungry or thirsty, but I also can’t sleep too soon after eating or drinking. (About an hour before is the best time)

I can’t sleep if I’ve had too much screen time (so no phone or tablet in the hour before bed if I can help it) I’ve been reading my way through the Narnia books instead of watching Netflix or other shows.

I can’t sleep straight after a shower, or if my hair is wet (so I got a shower cap for the times I don’t want to get my hair wet at all, and a hairdryer for the times when it really needs washing – after the gym or whatever)

Other things that work…

Weirdly, I can’t sleep if my feet are too hot, so I have sometimes had to get up and stick my feet under the shower to cool them off and then I’ve managed to get to sleep almost straight away

Another very strange (but effective) tactic is to switch ends of the bed – move my pillows to the bottom of the bed and switch my quilt round and somehow that helps!

I’ve made a blend of essential oils known to help facilitate sleep/good sleep/restfulness/calm which I apply to my neck, pulse points, and feet. I also have a spray version that I can apply to my pillows/bedding.

A lady from church noticed my Facebook statuses about not being able to sleep and offered to pray for me. She’d been through sleeplessness and insomnia herself so knows the awful effects it can have; she sent me a song that she used to play to help her recognise God’s power over insomnia and to remember that He is in control over everything (putting aside anxiety etc) She really encouraged me to pray over my sleeping and I think it has really helped!!

Over the winter, all through to March, I gradually got to the stage where I stopped thinking about whether I’d sleep and just went off to bed with no anxiety or worry at all. Still the very occasional night of little sleep but it’s completely manageable when the majority of nights are good sleep.

Then the flippin’ clocks changed!!! I don’t know if there is any real connection but since then I have had far many more insomnia nights. Thanks to knowing what helps and doesn’t, I feel like I’m managing this ok – but I am also taking the herbal version of Nytol maybe twice a week to help. Not a long term solution but sometimes you have to do the thing that helps you right now.

Do you have any ideas or solutions for insomnia?

-x-

 

 

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Why can’t I sleep?!

In my last blog post I said that I haven’t slept properly, apart from 2 nights, since Tasha has been away.

I still can’ sleep – it’s been two whole weeks and I’ve had two good night’s sleep.

ARGH!

I’m so tired in the middle of the day, but when it gets to bedtime, around 10.30/11pm, I’m suddenly wide awake again and even if I go to bed then I don’t fall asleep til at least 2am … which means that I wake up absolutely exhausted.

On Sunday I went to bed at 11, but couldn’t sleep so I ended up watching The Notebook at 1am – including all the deleted scenes. After that I still wasn’t even nearly tired, so I then read half of a book. Eventually I felt midly sleepy, around 3.30am and turned out the light. I slept til 9am and woke up without my alarm since it was my day off yesterday.

Last night I went to bed at 11.45pm because I felt sleepy after not having enough sleep the night before…thinking and hoping and praying that I would be tired enough to sleep.

Did I sleep? No.

I was still awake at 1.45am…I think I eventually slept sometime around 2.30am. I had to set my alarm for 7.15 to get up for work and now I am exhausted.

I’m on a split day today, because I was in Hastings this morning, and I have Fostering Panel in the evening so I’ve got 4 hours off in the middle of the day. I want nothing more than to have a nap, but if I do that then I won’t be tired at bedtime and it will keep happening. On the other hand, if I don’t have a nap I risk yawning my way through work this evening which is not the best presentation.

What do I do?

I’ve tried having a warm drink, dimming the lights for the hour before I go to bed, changing the duvet, washing the pillowcases so they smell like flowers and stuff, putting classical music on, reading, having the door open, having the door closed … nothing works and I AM TIRED!

Any advice will be gratefully received by this very sleepy girl

-x-

April, already?!

I can’t quite believe it’s April already. March literally whizzed past me whilst I wasn’t paying attention, and all of a sudden it’s sunny and (almost) warm, and 3 weeks until I fly to the States for my holiday!

As I typed “sunny”, it started to rain. Typical.

I can’t wait, I booked my flights on Wednesday night and I’ve been buzzing with excitement since. 2 1/2 weeks off, 16 days/nights with the Libbys in Oregon. Hooray!!

A lot of stuff seems to have happened in just this past week, it’s hard to process it all. Rosie has found a house and is moving out earlier than planned (May 5th) but my lovely friend Tasha (she of the great DIY skills) is moving in immediately, which is a tremendous blessing. Tasha was going to stay with friends until Rosie moved out in August, before the wedding, but now it’s all working out 4 months ahead of schedule!

Also this week my lovely friends Debs and Aaron got married. I know I’ve shown you pics already but here’s another:

Debs and Aaron are in the same church small group as me, and some of us from the group were the *food people* at the wedding, preparing it all and serving it etc. I was on my feet for almost 8 hours but it was so much fun.

And then I got sick 😦 I woke up on Friday, and felt a little yucky so I decided to stay in bed a bit longer – I had no plans because I switched my day off last week, so I could stay late at the wedding. By 1.30 I was still in bed! I got up and put some laundry on, and had a shower, then sat down on the sofa “for a minute” and woke up at 3.30pm! By this point I felt like death, so I went back to bed and stayed there til Rosie got home.

I managed to get up for a few hours in the evening, then had an early night, but I didn’t sleep well and woke up feeling horrendous. But of course, I had work…yes, even though it was Saturday. I managed my morning contact but changed my afternoon one, and came home to sleep.

We had guests this weekend – Rosie and Dave’s friends – and I feel like such an awful hostess for being in bed the whole time! Sorry Ruth, Sarah and Joe!! Sunday I felt well enough for church, but I was on standby for creche and they needed me so I exhausted myself again…back to bed for most of the afternoon!!

Hooray for Monday though, I felt much better and only needed a lie-in to feel almost human again. In all my (nearly) 23 years, I can’t remember being sick enough to willingly spending so much time in bed. But the only time I felt well was when I was lying down…so lying down I stayed, with my laptop, tissues, blackcurrant squash, hot water bottle and four big, squishy pillows to make me comfy!

What exciting things have happened in your week?

-x-

Ups downs and middles

This has been a very up and down week. I don’t think I’ve liked it much! There have been some really bad points (Monday) and some really good points (Tuesday prayer time!) so essentially it’s equalled out to an ‘ok’ week, but I’m so ready for it to be over.

I just don’t think I’ve caught up from last week – we had a case going to court last Friday and didn’t have our notes sorted, so my colleague and I spent all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and then 4 hours on Thursday evening trying to get caught up. We didn’t manage it, though it was ok because they weren’t needed as urgently as we’d been led to believe. Not frustrating at all…

We could not have been more annoyed really. Me especially, since I cancelled all my other work on Wednesday and Thursday as well as not going to Small Group on Thursday night to get it all done.

The positive side of it all is that we do now have a handle on it, so are prepared for when the notes are required…but unfortunately it means that this whole week I have been playing catch up – against myself!

I wrote my to-do list yesterday…17 items. Over the day I completed 12, but added another 9. Today I finished all but two of them, which felt very impressive even for me. I just now feel completely exhausted…the weekend cannot come soon enough!

In other news, one of my foster carers might have TB and is in hospital…cue frantic call to Mum to confirm that I was vaccinated (her response: “have you got a BCG scar?” Me: “yes.” Her: “then yes, you’re vaccinated”) and panicked Googling of symptoms/contagious-ness of TB to check that the vaccine doesn’t run out or stop working…we were all on high alert!!

If he has it, I may need to be tested since I work closely with the family and am considered high risk as I’m quite immunosuppresed – but that’s all just another adventure that I’ll take if it happens.

Roll on Saturday…just need to cope through tomorrow first.

-x-

 

A really long week

I haven’t posted this week as it’s been a really tough one. I’ve been on call, which means I’ve driven around 400 miles for work (all over East Sussex, Surrey and Kent!) and had to pick up a wayward charge from 2 separate police stations on two consecutive nights which was a real joy since I’ve only ever been in a police station once in my entire life and that was just to report an accident.

Safe to say that wasn’t the highlight of my week! 2 very late nights and not enough sleep when I finally did get to bed (I wish my mind could just forget about work but unfortunately I don’t seem to be wired with an off switch) and then yesterday completely topped it off as every single phone call I took was someone wanting to yell at me…literally.

I took 13 phone calls throughout the day (I have to record who I speak to, and what about, so this is an accurate figure) and every.single.one of them was from a grumpy/dissatisfied/upset/annoyed person who felt it necessary to raise their voice over the accepted level to get across their point.

My favourite one was from someone whose language left a considerable amount to be desired and let me tell you the insults she threw at me would have been hilarious if they weren’t so vulgar 😦

It was a bad day which just didn’t get better, although there was a good half-hour when I realised that I am probably going to win the award for Best Sister Ever as I found the perfect Christmas present for one of my sisters.

Other than that, it sucked. The day was topped off by a phone call at 11.30pm (at which point I’d been asleep for about 90 minutes) telling me that one of young people had been reported missing. Thus followed an hour of finding Social Services numbers and reporting this to the necessary people, chased up by another hour where I waited for the Duty Social Worker to call me back. I gave up at 2.30am and went to sleep only to wake up about 4 times throughout the night, completly paranoid about missing THE phone call.

Needless to say I’m tired.

Today is Rosie’s birthday though, and we had a lovely morning. I got up and decorated the house with balloons and put out her presents etc (and freaked Ro out by playing Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday when she walked into the lounge) and we had pancakes for breakfast. That made me happy. I got Ro two of the QI books, which made her laugh. She’s going to put them in her bathroom, because everyone needs something to read in there. 😛

I’ve already had two Out of Hours calls today but I’m praying it will be a quiet afternoon and evening so I can celebrate with Rosie tonight. Ro has now gone out to lunch at her parents’ house, so I am using the time to make her birthday cake. It’s going to be soooo pretty :)I’m also listening to my worship album on Spotify, which is reminding me that I have the perfect Saviour who knows exactly how tired I am and what I need.

Last week may have sucked, but this is a new week and it is full of grace and God’s mercy for me and those around me. I love that.

-x-

I’m living in chaos :(

Last week, at bedtime, Rosie came into my room and said that her room smelt. We went to investigate, and discovered that the reason her room smelt was that her carpet was wet.

And by wet…I mean, absolutely and completely sodden! Boo 😦

We called our landlords and they came to check it out the next day, and did this:

the carpet is all gone 😦

The carpet was too wet, so they had to cut it up and now the whole lot has been replaced…which is good. But, in the meantime we had to move all Rosie’s stuff into my room because of the smell, and so that the new carpet could go in.

For the last ten days, my room has looked like this…  
 

 

Chaos hurts my brain 😦

But, I’m thinking positively about it: it happened only a few days before I went to Brighton, so Rosie was able to sleep in my bed for the week rather than having to sleep on the fold out bed until her room was fixed…it was fixed really quickly, because we have kind and understanding landlords who came out immediately and didn’t make us feel like it was our fault…and it now gives me more of a reason to fix up my room properly. I was getting bored of it the way it is, and it’s hard to keep it neat because there is too much floor space and not enough storage.

That’s three reasons why it’s not a complete disaster…which is good enough for me.

The Friday Feeling

I love Fridays…knowing that the weekend stretches out ahead. Saturdays are sort of my favourite day, because I can choose to do whatever I’d like. I can even choose to do nothing, not that that choice lasts more than a few hours before I get supremely bored.

It’s been a long week and I’ve felt like a zombie through most of it – my very late night on Monday took several nights to recover from and I only started to be human again yesterday. It’s weird that even though I did get 8 hours sleep on Monday, because I’d been awake for so long before that (I worked a 17 hour day!) I needed much more sleep, but life didn’t really account for that.

Still. It’s been a good week, even if it’s been long. I’m currently reading “A Voice in the Wind” by Francine Rivers, and it took me a good few attempts to make it past the first paragraph because I was listen to music at the same time. This doesn’t work because even though my eyes are reading the words of the book, my mind is singing the words of the song!

Nevertheless, I’m now very “into” the book. It’s one of a series I’ve borrowed from Faith, my friend and cell leader. It’s about a Christian girl who is enslaved after the fall of Jerusalem, many years after Christ’s death and resurrection. She’s bought by family living in Rome, and I won’t spoil any of the story but it’s dark and sad and disturbing and beautiful and hopeful and inspiring all at once. Some bits can be quite gory, but not just for the sake of it – only as much is needed for the development of the story, and while there is reference to sex, it’s not in a descriptive way (the same as the gory parts) so I would have no issue recommending it to people.

I’m off to my discipler’s house tonight, to help her paint a playhouse for her children. I’m excited. I really enjoy spending time with their family – I wish I’d gotten to know them earlier. It will be a fun night, and then hopefully I’ll have a lie-in tomorrow morning before my free Saturday!

-x-