This week’s episode of The Secrets of Sleep focused on insomnia and I thought it might be useful for me to share my experience of living with the condition.
For as long as I can remember I didn’t sleep well. One of my earliest memories is going downstairs and saying I can’t sleep. My dad took me back to bed and told me to close my eyes. I did but still sleep didn’t seem to come!
As I got older it seemed to get worse and worse and my memories of night time in my teenage years is of being awake. But it was normal, surely everyone didn’t sleep?
I vividly remember that feeling of abject terror that I wouldn’t fall asleep and that I would be shattered the next day. The sickness in the pit of my stomach as I counted down the hours to “wake up” time stays with me up to this day.
“If I fall asleep now, I will have had 5 hours sleep”
“If I fall asleep now I will have had 3 hours sleep”
“If I fall asleep now I will have had an hour and a half, I am going to be soooo tired tomorrow!”
If by chance I fell asleep earlier I would religiously recreate the routine from the night before. This might include sleeping at the opposite end of the bed, sleeping on the floor, putting all my cuddly toys in bed with me or thinking about scoring the winning goal at Wembley for Rotherham United.
As I got older I started to fall asleep more easily, drifting off to the TV or radio but would wake to switch it off and often struggled to get back to sleep. I got more sleep, about 3-4 hours, but any time I was under stress, such as at exam time, or issues at work, I would wake really early and that would be it.
I left university and I went to work in the family business. Ironically, I am the third generation of my family to be involved in the Sleep Product industry and I never felt I could really make my sleep issues public. Who would buy a bed off someone who only slept a couple of hours a night? They would never believe what I told them about the products I sold!
The internet was my saviour. I learnt more about sleep and started to apply the things I read online to myself and worked out what worked for me. The real change was accepting that I was a bad sleeper. But also telling myself that I was brilliant at being tired. This mind shift stopped the worry I had around my sleep and led me to be able to sleep better.
But I still struggle to sleep from time to time. Early morning appearances on TV, worries about work and many other things can cause me to have poor sleep. In fact, just this morning I got up at 4.30am as The Little Sleep Geek had a bad cough and she woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Rather than worrying about it I got up and started my day. This approach really works for me, rather than my worries turning a bad night sleep into weeks and weeks of poor sleep I now accept the night of poor sleep and move on. I use the sleep deprivation caused by the poor night’s sleep to sleep better the night after.
It ws my experience of living with the condition, of not even realising there was a solution and how long the process took for me to solve my problem, that inspired me to become a sleep practitioner. I wanted to bring together what I knew about products with my experience of been an insomniac and also my training as a practitioner. I now utilise my unique set of skills to help others who struggle to sleep.
If you would like to find out how I could help you or a member of your family sleep better, please see the links below.
For Adult Sleep please click here
For Kids Sleep please click here
For Teens Sleep please click here
For Babies Sleep please click here
I would be interested to hear how insomnia impacts on your life....
The Sleep Geek