The insomniac mummy

I lay awake most nights these days. I could write my tired, puffy, red eyes with their often glazed over stare on having an almost 10 month old who’s teething. The truth is however that Penny really isn’t the whole story. Of course there are nights (sometimes in succession) that teething will cause her to be restless and need cuddles or a growth spurt will increase the need for food, but in all honestly I have a baby who adores to sleep. She has done from day one when we used to have to set alarms to wake and feed her. The mere use of the words “Penny sleeps almost perfectly most nights” makes me feel a pang of guilt when I even think them let alone speak them in response to the dreaded ‘so.. How is she sleeping?’ question often asked by other mums.

I assume that they must look at me and think that I’m clearly suffering from restless sleep like them. Like I’m part of the ‘my baby wakes up on the hour, every hour’ club. I’m really not. I simply look like I do because I am an insomniac.  I find it incredibly difficult to nod off to sleep at night which is often made worse if I actually have plans for the following day. I have taken medication to help with this for a few years now because after 5 nights of no sleep (and the inability to nap-not through lack of trying) I tend to start shutting down. My sense of direction, memory, motivation etc start failing me and I do silly things like cross a road without looking after a school run I hardly remember embarking on in my pajamas into a moving car. Or locking myself out of the house. Just small examples but I’m sure those who also suffer will understand that it’s a daily struggle.
Since become pregnant with Penny I had to reduce my dosage of medication. This wasn’t too bad during the tired pregnancy days and shortly after she was born the paranoia of not waking if she needed me in the night (which she hardly ever did) caused me to stop taking them. Over time my insomnia returned. It’s really very boring at night. I find myself playing stupid games on my phone in bed (a big no no) and sometimes trying to clean without waking anyone else up. Other times I just toss and turn in the hopes that I will eventually nod off. Or I try TV or hypno-apps claiming to aid sleep.  Nothing really works. I’m back on a low dose of my medication but I seem to be too used to it now and am contemplating trying a slightly increased amount. I should point out that the pills I take are not a sedative and do not keep me asleep. They simply help with relaxing enough to nod off.
So while I’m here, yet again not sleeping I thought I would post some of the tips suggested by my doctor as well as online.  Most of them I have tried, but if you are a fellow sufferer you might appreciate the reminder.
The Sleep Council suggest that following these tips can help you have a more restful night.

1. Keep regular hours

Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day will programme your body to sleep better. Choose a time when you’re most likely to feel sleepy. – Note: HAHAHAHAHA I wish this was possible.  I do try my best but my sleep is dictated by other people 😦 Little, noisy, needy people….

2. Create a restful sleeping environment

Your bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep. Keep it as quiet and dark as possible. It should be neither too hot nor too cold. Temperature, lighting and noise should be controlled so that the bedroom environment helps you to fall (and stay) asleep.- This one I do actually do, mostly due to Penny still sharing our bedroom.  We try to limit TV in there and only use it for sleeping and getting dressed.

3. Make sure that your bed is comfortable

It’s difficult to get restful sleep on a mattress that’s too soft or too hard, or a bed that’s too small or old. If you have a pet that sleeps in the room with you, consider moving it somewhere else if it often makes noise in the night. – I love my bed.  I love my pillows, duvet and positioning of it. My mattress is only a year old and super comfy.  Not sure what more I can do here.

4. Exercise regularly

Moderate exercise on a regular basis, such as swimming or walking, can help relieve some of the tension built up over the day. Make sure that you don’t do vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, however, as it may keep you awake. – Ok, I’m guilty of not getting enough regular exercise.  I do notice that if I have had a busy walking day that I don’t sleep well that night at all though 😦

5. Less caffeine

Cut down on stimulants such as caffeine in tea or coffee, especially in the evening. They interfere with the process of falling asleep, and they prevent deep sleep. The effects of caffeine can last a long time (up to 24 hours), so the chances of it affecting sleep are significant. Instead, have a warm, milky drink or herbal tea. – I have a caffeine free diet most of the time.  If I do have any, then it is in the morning in order to perk myself up to face the day.  Sometimes getting caffeine free drinks on the go is a challenge, but when I am at home I am pretty firm about it.

6. Don’t over-indulge

Too much food or alcohol, especially late at night, can interrupt your sleep patterns. Alcohol may help you to fall asleep initially, but it will disrupt your sleep later on in the night.  I don’t drink alcohol as a rule.  It’s never really had much effect on me, so tend to not bother, but I am guilty of finding it hard to sleep when hungry.  I can’t eat huge amounts in one go due to a previous gastric bypass, so toast is my go to food these days .

7. Don’t smoke

It’s bad for sleep. Smokers take longer to fall asleep, they wake up more frequently, and they often have more disrupted sleep.- Never have, never would.  We are a smoke free household.  🙂

8. Try to relax before going to bed

Have a warm bath, listen to quiet music or do some gentle yoga to relax the mind and body. Your doctor may be able to recommend a helpful relaxation CD.  I’ll be honest, I need to try to do more of this stuff.  Music doesn’t work for me, but I will try the baths.  🙂

9. Write away your worries

Deal with worries or a heavy workload by making lists of things to be tackled the next day. If you tend to lie in bed thinking about tomorrow’s tasks, set aside time before bedtime to review the day and make plans for the next day. The goal is to avoid doing these things when you’re in bed, trying to sleep.- I am a bed worrier.  I tend to be so busy during the day that I can ignore stuff I don’t want to face.  I do write lists, but some things can’t be dealt with in this way.  If I have lots of things to do the next day then I find sleep impossible.

10. Don’t worry in bed

If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed. I don’t think that I could actually tell you what I find relaxing.  It’s been THAT long since I felt relaxed that I couldn’t actually tell you.

This post has turned into a rather long blog about not very much, but I figured as I’m laying here in bed while hubby is on his night shift, listening to Penny sleep that I would write a post suitable of boring another poor insomniac into entering the land of nod. Hopefully I’ll be there soon too x

41 thoughts on “The insomniac mummy

  1. Voyageur Kalee (@VoyageurKalee) says:

    I have trouble falling asleep as well. It’s like my brain never gets tired and I’m constantly thinking or in motion. I have found, however, that melatonin helps me significantly. It alerts the part of your brain that already releases melatonin in order for you to go to sleep. So, it’s basically like a vitamin in that aspect. I’ve been taking it here lately and have gotten ample amounts of sleep. But, there are nights where I’m like you – just wide awake but then I look like I was wide awake the next day, ha!


  2. Shann Eva says:

    I find it very difficult to fall and stay asleep too. I have to take Melatonin and a prescription (which also just helps me relax not sleep.) The combination seems to work pretty well.


  3. Daniella says:

    I find it really hard to fall asleep too but I think it’s because I’m aware that my son could wake up any minute (we co sleep) and i’m conscious about every little movement or noise I make.


  4. Sally Akins (@SallyAkins) says:

    Oh you have my sympathy – I have had bad sleep patterns ever since my eldest was born, and even now the youngest is 12, I still sleep badly. I usually end up getting up at about 3.30am and starting on my plans for the day, and then trying to nap later. But obviously that’s not so easy for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nadine-Johanna Stewart says:

    I was such a horrible sleeper and at times, I still am. Cutting out sugar from my diet has really helped me and I see the connection between eating sugar and my sleep. On days I have some, I can’t fall asleep and I am tired after waking up. On the other days, I can fall asleep easily and I am full of energy in the mornings.

    I hope you can eventually get off the medication and all the best for you and Penny.

    Liked by 1 person

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