Ironically, I’m writing this post after just a few hours’ sleep…Somewhere between 2 and 4 hours. For a long time, that was what passed for normal in my world. Sleep was always the first casualty if anything of note was going on in my life…New job, new relationship, feeling creative. Sleep pattern out of the window!
There are no set rules on how much sleep we actually need. The ideal of 8 hours a night just isn’t required by everyone. Professor Kevin Morgan of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre gives the following advice…
“Simply put, you need enough to make you refreshed and able to function efficiently throughout the next day,” says Professor Morgan. The number of hours depends on the completely on the individual”
Sounds like sensible advice. Regulars readers of my blog will know how hard I champion getting to know your body and it’s needs! Which is sound advice when you’re in the frame of mind to take care of yourself. What happens when something happens to disrupt your day-to-day though?
After the events which led to the break up of my relationship, I refused to go to bed for a week. The night after it happened, I grabbed my duvet from upstairs and camped out on the sofa. Going into my bedroom filled me with dread, after having woken up there bruised, sore and crying that morning. Worse, I was scared he’d come looking for me. I had this idea I could run out the back door if he came to the front…Logically, I’d have been safer in bed. After watching who knows what all night, I managed 50 minutes shut-eye . I fell asleep with my mobile phone in one hand and my keys in the other, the cat curled up on my chest.
After giving my statement to the police, they registered my address as a Place of Interest, which meant any call from around the area would have resulted them attending as a priority.
Below is a link from the Women’s aid website on what happens when you report Domestic Violence to the police:
Apart from time spent with friends on the Bank Holiday, I was rooted to the sofa for most of the week. I would say I watched a lot of TV, but I couldn’t tell you which shows were on. I spent a lot of time staring into space and trying hard not think. My cat followed me room to room and was a huge comfort…A friend once said purring feline therapy ought to be available on the NHS and I’m inclined to agree!
I simply got out of the habit of going to bed…Looking back, it started years ago. It was definitely exacerbated by the events of early May though, I started to dread lying there being unable to drop off, or falling asleep and waking up an hour or so later. Unwanted thoughts would circle my head, chased by memories I’d have rather left undisturbed. It became easier to just sit up and watch re-runs of 90s comedies on cable.
I don’t care if you’re black or blue,
me and the stars stay up for you
I don’t care who’s wrong or right
and I don’t care for the U.K. tonight so stay, stay
From Black or Blue by Suede http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdMH-eksvB0
By the end of the week, I felt like a total Zombie. I decided it was time to take the drastic step of climbing the stairs with my duvet. Though I only managed four hours (with some nonsensical, colourful dreams to boot) I felt like I’d achieved something. As if I was winning in some way. Small victories are still sweet.
Since then, I’ve managed to settle down a bit more. I generally turn in when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light, which is a good start!
To begin with, I took simple steps like making sure my bed was made and free of anything that didn’t belong there. I’m not a naturally tidy person so I had to be sure to enforce this, no matter what state my room was in! In the past I’d woken up with anything from my make up bag next to my head, to shoes digging into my back. Now only me and my little cat are welcome to rest there. Making sure my PJs were folded up under my pillow also made a difference. I have a theory that it reminded me of being a little girl. A small detail, but when we find something comforting it can help us feel relaxed.
I can recall being summoned to one of those ever-so-fun work related health road shows last year. The kind where they scold you for your BMI and gasp in horror at your alcohol intake. This one was a bit different and seemed more laid back. Possibly for this reason, the following advice stuck in my head…
It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep.
Even though I am not partnered – and happily so – I can confirm that this is good advice!
Not to put too fine a point on it…
(My Mum has been known to read this blog after all…)
There does seem to be a link between orgasm, sleep and general good health…
Orgasms improve sleep – After orgasm, blood pressure drops and your body is calmed which leads to a relaxed state where sleep can occur. A lack of sleep leads to a host of physical and mental disorders. Sex could be the ultimate natural sleeping pill.
Two people are not necessarily needed to induce orgasm, so I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions!
I would probably extend Sex and Sleep to reading before nodding off…Don’t go for anything too challenging. Personally I think “Fifty Shades…” is overrated and would probably recommend something mildly funny. You don’t want to be splitting your sides, but it helps to be in a good mood when you switch the light off!
I’ve also found it’s much easier to sleep if you tire yourself out during the day. It sounds like a no-brainer…But I had to re-discover this for myself. I’ve lost count of home many times I’ve felt tired from doing absolutely nothing with my day, only to find myself unable to sleep. If you are in receipt of benefits, many councils offer discounts for use of facilities at leisure centres. There are also pay-monthly schemes which offer decent discounts if you are working. They are a really good way of discovering what kinds of exercise you enjoy…I’ve been taking part in Pole Fitness, Boxercise and VIPR Fit for the past month, as well as going to the gym. I definitely feel better and (am told) look better too. If it’s too early for exercise to have made a physical difference, I’ve definitely gained in confidence. Going to bed knackered has definitely helped with the sleep effort too!
Setting a wind-down routine has also helped…The simpler the better, I get irritated if I have to faff about. I aim to be in bed by 10.30pm and normally manage to be there between then and an hour later! Without fail, I like to have a hot drink and slice of toast around an hour before I turn in…The experts will slate me for this, but I started having a pre-bedtime cup of tea with my Nan aged about 9. I recently started doing this again, finding comfort in the memory. Tea is massive deal in my family and I learned to make a decent cup at an early age…Neither my Mother nor Grandmother would have any truck with rubbish brews!
I keep reading that drinking alcohol disrupts sleep…I think this is probably true. Booze tends to make me slightly hyperactive anyway, and while I find I normally go to sleep easily after a session I often wake up a few hours later. I’ve come to the conclusion too much loopy juice = too little sleep…I either avoid doing it in the first place now or just accept the consequences!
Though I prefer to take a bath in the morning, I know that some people find it helps to do so before bed. Apparently, the science behind it goes thus: After the bath raises your body temperature, you relax as it begins to dip.
Since I came up against too much conflicting information when I ran a search, I’ll just say whatever helps.
There are an absolute deluge of bath preparations which claim to aid relaxation, if you find a good one stick with it. Lavender is often recommended…personally it reminds me of old ladies, but each to their own!
Music can also help…Choose something relaxing, especially anything that sparks good memories.
I’m pretty old school in my choices, then again music doesn’t really exist for me after the millennium!
Albums of choice include…
- Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space – Spiritualized
- Pygmalion – Slowdive
- Drugstore – Drugstore
- Dummy – Portishead
- Protection – Massive Attack
- Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
- Morrison Hotel – The Doors
- Isn’t Anything – My Bloody Valentine
- The Contino Sessions – Death In Vegas
- Back to Black – Amy Winehouse
Better still, make your own playlist or CD. No-one knows better what relaxes you.
It’s taken a few weeks to settle down, but I’d say sleeping better has made a big difference to my outlook. If a full night’s sleep doesn’t come straight away, persevere. Don’t lie awake berating yourself, but don’t be afraid to give sleep a chance. I’ll offer you a final tip…If your thoughts are keeping you awake then get up, sit somewhere warm and comfortable and write them down. I’ve come to many a conclusion and laid more than a few issues to rest by doing this.
I’m going to walk into town to meet a friend later today…She’s got a piece of artwork in an exhibition and we’re going along to take a look. I can’t wait to see it, and really hope it’s going to inspire me to paint! The last piece I did was a portrait of Dita Von Teese for another ex, and as far as I’m aware it’s still hanging unfinished in his kitchen…
Randomly, I just experienced Power of Suggestion in action. The TV was on in the background, seemingly enjoying the sound of its own voice. A discussion was taking place about beards on one of the morning shows…A hirstitute friend I haven’t thought about in ages sprang to mind and I looked him up on Facebook!
These things really work you know…