I have never been a good sleeper, my mother tells the story often of how I never slept through the night until I was 4. Don’t get me wrong, I was never one of those screaming bratty kids either due to lack of sleep or would keep my parents up,I was just the kid who only needed a few hours sleep and then I was recharged. My mum used to come to my room and try in vain to get me back to sleep but she quickly learned that it didn’t work. I wasn’t a sleeper. I just used to want to watch a Disney film, or a TV programme I loved, or play, so she used to put a video on and go back to bed. Eventually I was old enough to work the TV and VCR in my room all on my own by about 2, so I wouldn’t even go looking for my mum. I just used to drink the milk that was waiting by the side of my bed for me when I awoke, select my video, and watch it. Sometimes on loop or just until I fell asleep again.
I am sure that there would be some horrified parents out there hearing the fact that my mum used to just leave me in my room and went back to sleep, but that fact of the matter was that I was perfectly happy. I didn’t need her. I couldn’t go anywhere, there was a stair gate at the top of the stairs and everything I needed was up there or in my room. It’s also not like I wasn’t happy about it, her room was across the hall, if I wanted or needed her she would have heard me or I would have gotten her, but I didn’t need her, I needed Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid or Basil the Great Mouse Detective or so many more. I was very content there in my room. It was safe and cosy and comfy, even now nights when the sleeplessness gets so bad, the only way I can drift off is to put a film on low, and have a drink of milk all snuggled up in bed. Maybe it’s a childhood thing.
I look back now and hearing that I didn’t sleep through until I was 4 scares me. I said to my mum “What if I ave one like that?” and she told me “You probably will, a you don’t sleep even now… but you come to realise that is just the way you’re wired and you work around it. That is what we did.”
Apparently she tried every trick in the book, any suggestion, she saw the dr, the health visitor… she asked everyone for help and ideas of how to get me to sleep though the night, but as she said, she came to realise that this is just who I am.
Also why should my mum have to stay up in my room with me or whatever when like I say, I didn’t need or want her. She knew I was safe, and again I knew exactly where she was if I ever needed her.
Part of me thanks her for from a very early age allowing me to make my own decisions based on exactly what I wanted, even at such a young age.
Why should she have tried to force me back to sleep, I wasn’t technically out of bed, I just wasn’t asleep? I’m sure the nights would have been a lot less peaceful had there been screaming and tantrums over the fact that I didn’t want to, or need to, or just couldn’t sleep. It would have been a lot more damaging for myself and my mother having to have the constant battles. I need to also thank her for doing this because this taught me that I could be alone. From an early age I was very happy and comfortable with being left in quiet alone to watch TV or entertain myself. It helped me as I grew up to be able to be happy spending time alone for just myself. I am not one of these people who has to constantly be surrounded by people. I like my own company. In fact there are times I send Harry out to see friends just because I want to watch exactly what I want to watch all by myself.
In the end she did what she felt was right for the both of us and it worked. She managed to get as much sleep as she could, meaning that she was well rested and that she took the best care of me too, and I slept when I needed to in the evenings and did what else I wanted too. It should also be noted that I didn’t sleep in the day either. Naps were cut out very early for me as again I wasn’t a child who needed a lot of sleep.
My sleeping habits never really improved with age, especially as I became a teenager.
I would be up very late and up very early in the mornings and I still managed to get good grades. I was lucky I guess. But again this was partly because my mum knew about my sleeping patterns and didn’t force me to have a bed time. She would say to me “I think you should come off the computer” or “Maybe just get in bed and try”. These were more suggestions rather than orders, she said them because she cared and not because she felt as a parent she should enforce rules that my body biologically cannot stick to.
During college and university my sleep became even worse, and that is when the doctors tried to get involved. They tried to treat me for extreme insomnia.
I wasn’t interested in their pills. Back then I was the picture of health. I was a great weight, was never ill and fit. Unlike now, however not through my own doing I might add. So back then I refused to take anything to help me sleep. It didn’t seem to affect me if I hardly slept or not.
There was only ever once in my life when I could say that I slept well, regularly for 6-8 hours a night and for weeks and weeks at a time. No sign of insomnia at all… and that was back when I first got together with Harry. He was like a human comfort blanket, slipping in to bed with him seemed like the only place I ever wanted to be and it seemed to get me in to a place where I could sleep. But now, nearly 4 years down the line I am back to not sleeping well again.
In fact I think in a sick kind of way that when my body needs the rest and I am but when I am being told that I have to rest and let my body recover… I become unable to do so for love or money.
Add together my natural, biological inability to sleep, with extreme pain, and sleep – or lack thereof, is becoming and even crueller mistress. I am now on medications to help me get some sleep in the evenings. I take (a hight dose of) Amitriptyline before bed, as well as all the other cocktail of medications that I am on, and I beg with my body and brain to let me sleep tonight. It is still very hit and miss as to whether it works, but when it does, I find that I have really vivid dreams, and that when I wake up, I’m even more exhausted, and like I could sleep for 24 hours more and it takes me ages to be able to function properly to get out of bed.
Alas, I shall sign off here, and crack open either Netflix or another book. (Insomnia is however great for getting through all the films you meant to see or all the books you wanted to read)
I hope tonight I sleep. I feel like I need to.