Sleep is such an essential part of our lives.
It is crucial to staying healthy and happy.
Yet, I am embarrassed to admit that I have a toxic relationship with sleep.
It feels like a stupid thing to say.
How can I have a toxic relationship with something that should be a fundamental factor of life?
I don’t know but I do. And I should know better.
I am no longer a university student who pulls all nighters to write essays or stays up all night watching movies, chatting with my house mates and drinking. I am a 37-year-old wife, a mother to a little girl and I am 25 weeks pregnant with our second baby.
I should be making sleep a priority in my life.
But I can’t and I don’t. I seem to have a block, mental or emotional, that prevents me from getting the sleep that I need.
At the height of my depression, in my early 20’s, sleep and I were enemies.
I suffered from terrible insomnia. It was so extreme, that I was often wired and wide awake at 3am in the morning. Or I would stay awake all night long reading only to eventually fall asleep at 6am. And this was even though I was taking sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety medication that contained a very strong sedative.
I was terrified of going to sleep because I was plagued by night terrors, nightmares and anxiety dreams.
Whilst asleep my mind would replay some of my worst depressive episodes. In the morning, I would wake up exhausted. Feeling like I had relived the experience all over again.
In time, I managed to get my sleep back into a routine.
But I was always a night owl and on most nights I could be found reading, playing computer games or watching TV until the wee small hours of the morning.
Mr H often jokes that I could become nocturnal. And although this is often said in jest, it is true. I could quite happily stay up all night and then sleep all day.
My sleeping pattern is to fall into bed at the point of complete and utter exhaustion. In the hope, that I won’t lie awake or be plagued with bad dreams. Sadly, this often means that my bedtime can be 2 or 3am.
This wouldn’t be as terrible if I could have a long lie-in. But we have a daughter that wakes religiously at 6am every morning. Meaning I often have 3 hours sleep at night.
This toxic relationship means I spend most of my days trying desperately to stay awake. I constantly crave sugary drinks and food to give me energy and as a result my diet is a nutritionist’s worst nightmare. I lack in motivation and can no longer remember the meaning of the word ‘productivity’.
To make matters worse, I complain constantly that I am exhausted and need more sleep.
This is a destructive form of behaviour for anyone who suffers from depression. And it does not lead to happiness.
My sleep, or lack of it, has a huge impact on my life. But it also affects the rest of my family.
I often wake both Mr H and Little Miss H up when I come to bed. And my bedtime habits are the only thing that Mr H and I ever argue about.
I think that the poor man has now given up nagging me about going to bed at a reasonable time.
He must feel like a broken record. Telling me not to stay up too late. Only to hear the response “I’m right behind you.” When we both know that this is a lie and I will stumble into bed past midnight.
As much as Mr H would love me to get more sleep, the only person who can do anything about this is me.
I have the power and ability to take control of my relationship with sleep.
And now is the moment to do it.
I AM a wife. I AM 37 years old. I AM a mother to one little girl. I AM 25 weeks pregnant with our second child. And I need sleep.
One of the easiest techniques I learnt at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was the importance of routine.
To go to bed at the same time every night and to get up at the same time every morning.
Well, my daughter and her internal alarm clock have the morning covered.
I just have to sort out my bedtime.
So I am setting myself a challenge. I am going to make sure that I go to bed at 11pm every night during April and May.
I know that it is going to be tough. I will feel like I am letting parts of my life slip. In particular, my blogging.
But eventually, I hope that the difference it will make to my life will be immeasurable. And that after two months of going to bed at 11pm, I will have made this bedtime a habit. A part of my routine.
Because I need this. I need this for my health and my happiness. I need it for my family and for my unborn child.
A new baby will inevitably bring sleepless nights. So now is the right time to get quality sleep.
And on that note, I bid you goodnight. Sweet dreams!
PS. Do you have any fantastic tips that will help me get some more sleep or go to bed at a reasonable time? If so then please do leave them in the comments. I could use all the help that I can get.