SLEEP….Trouble sleeping through the night Sir?…Ooo Suit you Sir. Can’t find the stairs to the Land of Nod Sir.? Ooo Suit you Sir. SLEEP…. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship….. Stop, enough already. The only thing I could Klingon to was my sanity and that was by a thread
Sometimes we have to re-hash the past to smooth the way for the future. Trouble sleeping through the night is probably one of the biggest understatements for me. Looking back, this was probably one of the lowest points of my life. I wasn’t having trouble sleeping through the night, I just wasn’t sleeping, period.
Over the course of about ten days I think I managed to clock up about twelve hours sleep in total. By the end I was finding it hard to recognise what was real and what was delusion and my reference to Star Trek is ironic as that was pretty much all I had on the television when I was at home on my own. If you’ve been through even few days, with little sleep, you’ll be able to appreciate how debilitating it can be.
Sleep is one of the most important facets we possess and for the most part is highly underrated and misunderstood. One website alone probably wouldn’t cover all the masses of information out there on the subject, so I won’t try to here. I can give you my experience and how I came through and hopefully some of what is written will help you.
Falling Asleep or Passing Out.
Almost every paragraph could have a book in its own right. Let’s put some context in here. If memory serves me right, excuse me please as it might not…things were a tad blurry for a while back then, I was no longer working and was at home, not going out of the house and drinking morning, noon and night. I wasn’t eating anything of note just drinking. My daily exercise consisted of moving off the sofa, through the dining room, kitchen and out the back door to have a roll-up. Sedentary at best. So when everyone else had gone to bed I would still be sat watching the television. As each wave of self-doubt, loathing,sadness (no one word seems adequate to describe how it feels) I would have more to drink which gave me about an hour of peace…then the cycle would begin again. At some point I would drift off…pass out is a better description but that’s not sleep in the true sense and has non of the benefits associated with sleep, even a short ‘Power nap’.
Alcohol as a Stimulant
In simple terms, depression aside, the alcohol was keeping me awake in the same way a painkiller eases the pain. After a while the effects wear off and you take more, in this case the downside was that my body was never allowed to enter into anything that was remotely close to being ready for sleep. The passing out was just that. When you come home after a night out and large quantity of alcohol has been consumed, you fall on the bed and pass out…not sleep. The next day, hung-over, you wonder why you feel like you haven’t slept…well that’s because you haven’t. Sleeping through the night is as important as a good diet and even exercise.
So for me, the reduction in the alcohol consumption was obviously key in my own quest for sleep. That’s all well and good but a sleep routine was something I needed to learn about and that has helped me every day since. Before the proverbial hit the fan I never had a problem falling asleep but I did struggle to stay that way through the night. I would awake numerous times through the night and be unable to fall back asleep straight away. I had to put a routine in place and if at any time during the night I woke up, rather than fighting with not being able to go back to sleep I would get out of bed and start my routine again, I didn’t clean my teeth again, that would be overkill. You get the point though. Having a nighttime plan is a must. The body itself has all the tools you need, you just need to use them. Did you know that just closing your eyelids for a prolonged period activates a secretion to help induce sleep.? I don’t know the science here and now but will endeavour to add a page or two in the future with some amazing information about what our bodies do without us even knowing.
Nighttime Do’s and Don’ts
One of the many benefits of sleep is that it allows the body to recover, repair and rest. To aid this there are certain things you can do to help. Again this list is no where near comprehensive but it’s a start. Going to bed not long after eating a meal doesn’t help…you body is still working hard to digest food rather than resting. Coffee, tea and other beveridges that contain caffeine might not work for you either. A sugary drink may help as do other warm drinks half an hour or so before your routine begins. A dark, cool room can be of benefit. These are just a few of the basics.
Looking Forward to Bedtime
Now I have no trouble sleeping through the night. In fact, I can sleep pretty much anywhere at anytime, much to the disgust of the children should I be dosing whilst waiting in the car to collect them. This didn’t happen overnight and took a consistent effort of trying different things to see what worked for me. I look forward to going to bed and not waking up until the following morning, most times just before the alarm goes off. One slim pillow suffices now, whereas before I used to have three and sometimes four. A bottle of water by the bed just in case I do wake up and feel the need for hydration.
Some of you may enjoy having the radio on or music playing whilst going to sleep which is great unless you also have a partner that might not appreciate it quite so much. Myself and my wife differ in that department. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I started using headphones to listen to the radio and then realised I could now broaden my horizons. There is a wealth of audio out there specifically designed to help you get to sleep. Not only that, you can even listen to motivational programs designed to work even when you’ve fallen asleep. Now that’s multi-tasking at its’ best.
Sleeping through the night is an important part of your life and will leave you feeling refreshed and full of energy to face the coming days head on. Life can be hard enough let alone when you start each day feeling tired. Try a few subtle changes to see if your nights sleep improves.