Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Insomniac

If I had a magic wand (apparently mine would be eleven inches, dragon heartstring and cedar) and had one wish, I would remove my insomnia.

It's been there as long as I can remember. As a child, Mum and Dad had terrible trouble getting me to sleep. I can remember Mum making a star chart- if I stayed in bed once I was put there I would get a star. Poor Mum and Dad...I can vividly remember being about six or seven and the only one awake in the house, and feeling so alone that I would go and stand next to their bed and stare at them. On numerous occasions. Yeah, and that isn't creepy at all.

Yes, and they would sometimes wake up and get an awful fright to see a small figure in a nightie standing by the bed staring at them. Sorry Mum and Dad...I was just lonely and couldn't sleep. No wonder they made the star chart! 

Fast forward twenty or so years and I am still a troubled sleeper. There is nothing worse than being absolutely exhausted, crawling into bed, having a relaxing read, turning off the light- and instantly having your brain switch on and start merrily running in circles. I never know when it will hit. It always takes me quite a while to get to sleep (I used to dread school camps and was never overly keen on sleepovers, as I would inevitably be the last one left awake) but some nights are far, far worse than others. It's very stressful knowing that I have to be up early and not being able to simply switch off my brain and drift off. Instead I feel restless and tense and worried and...argh. Having restless legs syndrome does not help matters either. I've tried herbal tea, warm milk (ugh), hot baths, cool showers, herbal sleep aids (the nightmares valerian seem to bring me aren't worth it), lavender oil, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, etc etc etc etc...What I haven't tried are sleeping tablets, and nor will I. I just don't want to go there as I don't want to become addicted or reliant on them.

So on it goes, the constant battle...A cognitive behaviour therapist tried to help me once and a piece of advice I took away and put into practice is that if I am still tossing and turning after 20 minutes, I get up, out of bed, leave the room and read for 10 minutes in the lounge room, then try again. Last night was a bad night...still awake at 3am and up for work at 6.30am. I feel groggy and distant today and am hoping for a much better night tonight.

Ah, to be a dog or cat and able to slip blissfully into a near-coma within seconds...

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