This post is inspired by conversations that end with Zzzs…
A long time ago, I used to suffer from really, really bad insomnia.
Night after night I would lay awake, staring at the ceiling, waiting for the sandman to take me and yet night after night I’d be lucky if I scraped two maybe three hours at best.
A few days of this is enough to drive anyone crazy, but this went on for months.
‘Jack‘ nailed it best when he said:
With insomnia, nothing’s real.
Everything is far away.
Everything is a copy, of a copy, of a copy.
My then partner, who no doubt was being kept awake by my incessant restlessness herself, was fantastically supportive and eventually, when it finally started to have a knock-on effect on my working life, she insisted that we sorted this out as – if my work was going wrong, then the next thing after that would no doubt be our relationship…
First thing first – We took the TV out of the bedroom.
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but at that time I didn’t even think about it. I could quite happily sit on the bed, watching TV, (back in the days when I actually watched TV anyway), for ages… It had a built-in video player so on the nights when the insomnia was really bad I’d just stick some Blackadder on or something. Yeah, ‘cos that helped.
After that – Lavender
Lavender spray on my pillows. Lavender bubble bath before bedtime…
Just lots and lots of lavender.
We found the latter while doing research into natural treatments for sleep troubles etc… I steadfastly refuse to take any form of sleeping tablets and herbal remedies are about as far as I’ll go. The only thing that we could find in the UK that had Valerian in it were these tablets called Kalms. Two of those before bed every night to ‘relieve worry, irritability and stress’ and you’re sorted. Well I say ‘sorted’, I’m not entirely sure if they helped that much, but everything was so gradual.
Finally, and this is one of the biggest things for me by far – Associations.
So what does that mean?
Well, I’ve already mentioned that I took the TV out of the bedroom to aid in my search for slumber. That helped a lot. Not only with not keeping me awake via mere distraction but what it also did was stop me from just sitting on the bed… i.e.: Sitting and not SLEEPING.
Let me explain, y’see – when you allow this to happen, your brain kinda gets used to your bed being just another chair, or a rather in this instance; a big flat sofa, (one for sitting on, not for sleeping).
Once I’d realised this I point-blankly refused to go to bed unless I was so so so so so so SO tired I was falling asleep on my feet. That way, by eliminating all other activities bar sleeping, (TV, Reading, Nintendo etc.), from the bed I managed to train myself associate that physical environment and situation with sleep. Brilliant.
Looking back, this was probably the best thing that I did to get over my insomnia. Obviously the other ideas and actions were also contributing factors… But really, learning to move my work and play away from my place of rest was without doubt the best thing I could’ve done.
You might’ve noticed that the name of this blog is ‘this is my happy place’…
That stems from a number of reasons – all of which resonate quite nicely with the kind of guy that I try to be – but one of those reasons actually relates quite nicely to the accompanying picture…
I like sleeping.
Having had it gone from my life for such a long time I now have the utmost respect for sleep as an activity… and dedicate proper time to it as often as needed.
This isn’t to say that I am lazy, not by any stretch. I just know when I need to rest.
Tying off with associations is a good way to bring this back to my inspiration for this post. I have this habit, when talking on the phone late at night, of falling to sleep mid-conversation.
I kid you not.
I must’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve woken up to find a phone in my hand wondering what the hell was going on. It makes me laugh every time it happens but the caller on the other end tends to get quite miffed. Heh.
Word to the wise – if we’re speaking late at night and I say:
‘Ok, cool. Just headed to bed, will call you back shortly…’
Just. Say. No.
The chances are I will fall asleep…