Health & welfare Mental health

To sleep, perchance to dream

A blurred and grainy photograph of a woman and a baby sleeping in a bed_with the title "To sleep, perchance to dream" - Mrs H's favourite things

Sleep is such an essential part of our lives.

It is crucial to staying healthy and happy.

I know that when I have a depressive episode sleep is the greatest of healers.

Yet, I  am embarrassed to admit that I have a toxic relationship with sleep.

A blurred and grainy photograph of a woman and a baby sleeping in a bed_with the title "To sleep, perchance to dream" - Mrs H's favourite things

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!

A blurred and grainy photograph of a woman and a baby sleeping in a bed_with the title "To sleep, perchance to dream" - Mrs H's favourite things

Hugs

Lucy

xxxx

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.

29 Comments

  • Reply
    Left Back
    September 26, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    My second is 4 months old and to keep up with her and my 3 year old I find myself going to bed at 9 every night.

  • Reply
    Bek
    April 29, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    I also have issues with sleeping but mine are due to being a single parent and having to work at home late into the night. It is not very good for my health and I have managed to spend many days being exhausted. I have recently started having hypnotherapy to help with my anxiety issues. Listening to a hypnotic recording each evening before going to sleep helps me to drift off to sleep much faster. It is so calming! I really hope that you are able to get to sleep earlier over the next couple of months, and longer. Good luck with it 🙂

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      April 30, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Awww, Bek. That must be so hard. But it is a much better excuse for not getting an earlier night than mine. Which is just stupidity. I have had hypnotherapy in the past and those hypnotic recordings are wonderful way of aiding relaxation. Maybe I need to try one. Anything will help. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Alex Lamb & Bear
    April 21, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Oh I wish I could help you hun! I struggled with mild depression in my early 20s and all I did was sleep which resulted in bad grades in my degree. Hopefully you can get yourself into a routine and learn to fall asleep at a decent time. I’m sure baby number 2 will help you with that! Hugs xxx
    Alex Lamb & Bear recently posted…Bright, Colourful Baby Clothes for SummerMy Profile

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment honey. It is amazing how sleep and mental health are linked. When I was ill in my early 20’s I just wanted to sleep too. And could do for weeks on end. But I think all that and then the insomnia has really mucked up my relationship with sleep. And although it is getting better, I still have a long way to go. But you are probably right, Little Mister H will sort it all out for me. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Harriet @LifeWithMrsLee
    April 21, 2016 at 8:22 am

    This is such an interesting post! I’m the opposite, can’t get enough sleep and will happily go to bed pre 10pm!! I definitely think a routine is key. Setting yourself a little goal is a great idea. Have you tried reading for 20 minutes before bed? It may help you relax a bit before you drop off to sleep. Also when I was pregnant I listened to a hypnobirthing CD and that really helped me fall asleep xxx
    Harriet @LifeWithMrsLee recently posted…The Ordinary Moments ’16 #16 | Just Keep RunningMy Profile

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      Thanks for your comment lovely. I definitely need to relax more before going to sleep. At the moment, I tend to switch off my laptop or iPad and head up to bed. Not really conducive to relaxing or winding down for the night. I like the idea of reading and listening to a hypnobirthing CD before bed. They could really help. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Victoria Marden
    April 18, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    This sounds awful, I really do wish I had the answer to your sleep troubles. I know the feeling about keeping yourself awake as long as possible but luckily my tablets helped the problem that was stopping me x
    Victoria Marden recently posted…Sugar Apple Glazed Gammon | Recipe and MethodMy Profile

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      April 19, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Oh, thank you for your lovely comment. I think getting to bed earlier will really help me. It is horrible trying to keep yourself awake because you really don’t want to go to sleep. Hopefully, when I am in a proper bedtime/ evening routine my sleep will all fall into place. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Janine Dolan
    April 18, 2016 at 8:39 am

    I have the same routine every night. By 10.30pm I’m asleep. Some other days when hubby is away I’m in bed once kids are in bed and browse on the phone for a while and go to sleep around 930

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      I think getting into a routine is definitely the way forward. I am also trying to track the times I go to bed in my Bullet Journal. That should be interesting to see. I just think that I’ll never get anything done if I go to bed early at night. Thanks for your comment. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Emma @sophieellaandme
    April 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Good luck with your challenge. I’m sure once you’re in the new routine, you will stick to it better.

    I love sleep although I tend to stay up until 2am – 4am, usually browsing Instagram, Facebook, etc. Then I’m tired for the rest of the day! I also need to start going to bed earlier! x
    Emma @sophieellaandme recently posted…Joules WishlistMy Profile

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      Hello. Thanks for your lovely comment. I think that a new routine is the best step forward. But it is going to be touch because my current bizarre sleeping patterns are so established. By the sounds of it, you go to bed later than I do. Social media is so damn addictive though. Here is hoping for some more sleep for both of us. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Katie Haydock
    April 17, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Lucy I’m so sorry to hear you’re not sleeping well when you need all the rest you can get. Have you tried meditation? Now would be the perfect time to start baby yoga – even if you can’t get to a class there are so many lessons on you tube. It could help your dreams to be a little sweeter and relax you!
    Hope you over-come this soon my lovely and I’ll chat to you soon xXx

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment honey. I am thinking of buying a hypnobirthing DVD and a mindfulness/ pre-natal yoga DVD – so hopefully those will help. Something to help me relax would be hugely appreciated. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Jodie
    April 16, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Gosh I have no idea. Sorry! I love my sleep I just don’t get enough of it or good quality.

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Ha ha! Thanks for your comment. Yes, I quickly learnt once Little Miss H was born that your quantity and quality of sleep goes out of the window. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Catherine
    April 15, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    I obviously don’t want to be patronising because I am sure you have tried everything, but have you tried a hot bath with lavender and then lavender essential oils on your pillow? They work an absolute treat for me, I find it so helpful. Good luck!

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment. A hot bath with lavender sounds perfect. I am pregnant at the moment and I am not entirely sure about using essential oils in pregnancy. But I could always try buying a lavender pillow and some soothing lavender bath bubbles. A great idea. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Lizzie Somerset
    April 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Hi Lucy, thanks for sharing your sleep story with us! It must be tough to be in a cycle, and you are brave to share it and try to break it. I’m no expert and this just popped into my mind as I read so please do dismiss if not helpful 🙂 I would stay away from sugary/caffeinated drinks from 3pm, eat a good meal, turn off screens from 8pm, and drink something like Horlicks, Ovaltune or hot milk before bed. Do you like reading? Reading in bed always has me drifting off. I love my kindle paper white which is backlit so it doesn’t keep your brain ticking over. This way you can still be productive (blogging books maybe?) and getting rest as you’re reading in bed you’re already in the right place. In the meantime I will pray for you lovely, for restful and beautiful sleep and wonderful dreams. Much love Lizzie xo

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Oh dear Lizzie, thank you for your lovely comment. You are always so kind. This sounds like a lovely nighttime ritual. I do think I need to put a bedtime routine in place, which involves more relaxation and less screen time. I’ll have a little think about what i can include in my evening routine. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Sabrina @ The Mummy Stylist
    April 15, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Oh dear I had no idea! I’m the complete opposite, all I do is sleep! Day, night, anytime! My tip is to eat lots so you’re stuffed and then you feel so sleepy afterwards. Xx

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:27 pm

      Ha ha! I love this suggestion. Can I stuff myself full of cake? Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Laura
    April 15, 2016 at 6:44 am

    Lavender oil in a hot bath before bed?

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:28 pm

      That is definitely a great idea. I don’t think I can use essential oils in pregnancy but I am now going to be on the look out for a relaxing lavender bath bubble that I can put on my hot baths before bed. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Alan aka omgitsagirl2015
    April 14, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I’m sorry I’ve no tips for you. You see I’m just as bad as you. The only difference being I have no nightmares or terrors. I really don’t know why I cannot sleep.

    If I had a laptop I would be up till the wee hours blogging. As it is I’m either watching tv or reading blogs, facebooking.

    I’ve always been like this. As a child I’d sit behind the curtains reading by the light from the streetlight.

    Like you the children are early risers and I’m the only driver so have to be up for school runs.

    Mrs OMG is the same as your hubby and constantly gives out to me about staying up too late.

    I did have a hypnosis mp3 on an old phone that seemed to help. I cannot find it again though!

    I hope you find a way that helps.

    Good luck with your challenge
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    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Dear Alan, thank you for your amazing comment. I am so sorry that you have this trouble too. But I am a little relieved that I am not the only one. Maybe Mr H and Mrs OMG should form a support network for the Spouses of Dreadful Sleepers (SODS)? I think they would be onto a winner. Sadly we do have a laptop and I spend far too much time on it in the evenings and into the night. Hopefully once I get more into a routine then I will be able to crack this sleep problem. Hugs Lucy xxxx

  • Reply
    Sonia
    April 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I’ve never struggled with sleep on this scale but have used a relaxation technique in the past. Lye in a comfortable sleeping position, starting with your toes and working up through your body, squeeze the muscles hard for 5-10 seconds, really concentrating on it and then relax. This helps both your body relax and takes your mind away from other things. Hope you manage to achieve your goal! xx

    • Reply
      Mrs H
      May 6, 2016 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I have used this relaxation technique in yoga and meditation before. It would probably be a great tool to use before going to bed at night. I am sure it will relax me and make me very sleepy. Hugs Lucy xxxx

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