Ah, sleep

Last week was significantly milder and I had a trip into town for a haircut. I wore the last of the six samples I bought recently. These were not the most successful of purchases. I wrote about three of the six: Guerlain Tobacco Honey was less successful than I hoped, and last week I focused on a couple of weird things. The penultimate two were so bad on me we’re not even going there. But finally, a success. The sample I wore to the haircut was glorious. To the extent I will write about it next week, once I have had a chance to spend even more time with it. So, all was not lost.

So, rather than smell today we are talking sleep. This is a problematic area for me – and almost always has been. The quality of that has changed over time but I am curious to hear about the experiences of other people.

The only times in my life I have been a solid sleeper were when I was doing a lot, and I do mean a lot, of physical activity. An example is hiking trips during my teenage years. Only time I can recall head hitting pillow and lights out for six to eight hours.

In addition, earlier in my life I experienced around three awful recurring nightmares – the kind of thing where you wake and stay awake for a bit so you don’t re-enter the horror show.

I’ve always been impressed with people who are good sleepers.

Anyway, at this point in my existence, on a decent night I fall asleep and then wake after four or five hours. In general, I go back to sleep for shorter stretches till I finally just get up at what I consider a reasonable hour.

Sometimes the dog wakes me in the middle of the night – because he loses a favourite toy out of his bed or off the couch and needs to retrieve it – loudly – or because someone inappropriate to his mind is visiting his garden. He’s not a barker, but when this happens he will to let me know he needs to go out to patrol and protect the pack.

I’ve tried various things to fall asleep more quickly: counting backwards from 100, doing (what my yoga teacher calls) box breathing (four in, hold four, four out, hold four – repeat), using lavender oil or sleep mist.

So, what I’m getting at here is: are you a good sleeper or do you have more trouble?

If you’re in category 1, what does it feel like? If you’re in category 2, what do you do to address this?

Pics: Pexels

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    I used to have problems going to sleep, mostly stress from work or family drama, plus I am a night owl by nature. These days I have learned to shut the door on stress when I go to bed. I tell myself that there is nothing that can be done right now and imagine shutting a door on the problem to be dealt with later. Then I make myself as comfortable as possible, tuck myself in a cool room with a heavy blanket and fan set on low, relaxing from head to toe, and imagine falling asleep on a gently rocking train. I learned this method from reading about how the military trains people to fall asleep anywhere. I can be soundly asleep in just a few minutes and stay that way all night.

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    I ways slept decently until about 2 years ago, even though I am a night owl. I think it’s me entering my 40’s, financial stressors, and a dog that takes over the bed. She will not freaking move and it’s hard trying to move a 70 pound Lab.

    • cinnamon says:

      Joe the Lab can get up stairs, even the steep ones here, but he can’t get down by himself. So, he stays downstairs. I had cats decades ago that slept on the bed. Dogs are much preferable.

  • Diana says:

    I, too, used to sleep well in my teens. That changed when I developed sleep apnea in my 40’s, first signs of which were frequent awakenings in the middle of the night with difficulty falling back to sleep and vivid dreams. CPAP helped, but I”m still very sensitive to sound waking me up. I lock all my furbabies out of the room and use a white noise sound machine. Interestingly enough, I was laid off from work last August and while I wasn’t interviewing for jobs, had the best sleep of my life since my teens. After New Years, I started getting calls for interviews and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I’m having trouble falling back to sleep. It seems that any kind of stressor, even subconscious, interferes with a good night sleep. My mother has never stressed about anything and even in her late 70’s still sleeps like a baby.

    • cinnamon says:

      Do you know the cause of the apnea? I have found sometimes that audio books help. not sure why. I tried soothing music but affect was meh. can see how interviewing would throw your sleep for a loop. how on earth can your mother avoid stress? very impressed.

  • Dina C. says:

    I’d give myself a medium grade on the sleep scale. Once I’m finally asleep, I usually sleep for a nice 7 to 8 hours. But, two things. It takes me a long time to fall asleep because I’m a light sleeper, and every little thing disturbs me. And emotional worries prevent my sleep as well. Second, I have always had vivid colorful dreams and nightmares, some of which are very upsetting. I think it was author Anne Tyler who wrote of a character who “woke up feeling like they needed a good nap,” and I never met a quotation I loved more.

  • March says:

    Oh, boy. Until a couple of years ago I dropped like a stone into bed at 10 pm and woke up around 5 or 5:30, and I didn’t appreciate that until it stopped. It’s taking me forever to get to sleep these days. I’m trying to cut out the afternoon nap, hoping it will help. Nobody needs to be awake at 3am.

    • cinnamon says:

      I’ve never been able to nap — even on days after really bad nights I just keep going and actually those are the nights where I drop off quickly and sleep decently. Clearly, part of what’s happening to all of us is related to aging. But I still wonder if there are things that can actually have a positive impact.

  • Kathleen says:

    I’m a very light sleeper, the faintest of sounds awaken me. Thankfully, I fall asleep easily. My intention for this year is to go to sleep at 9pm instead of 10pm as I get up at 4:30. I’m awake often during the night. Rarely do I sleep heavily during the night, and when I do I have recurring nightmares in that deep sleep state.

    • cinnamon says:

      4:30 … that’s early. I find when it’s lighter earlier in the morning staying asleep doesn’t happen and I tend to be up earlier. The nightmare thing does not sound pleasant.

  • Musette says:

    I am completely Diurnal so sleep tends to come naturally to me – usually I’m in bed by 10p (during the temperate months) and up at 5a
    Winter throws all of that into a cocked hat because I tend to sleep MORE – usually abed by 8p and if I’m up before 6a it’s a miracle (or an alarm clock)

    Crappy sleep is usually stress-related – back in the El O days it was a crapshoot and ’twas then that I coined the phrase “Sleep is the New Sex”; luckily I don’t have to deal with that level of stress anymore so … well, I guess I’m a decent sleeper!

    • cinnamon says:

      Mother Nature clearly rules your being. As I noted above, come longer days my sleep patterns (more my waking patterns) change. I do find it harder to get myself going in the dark.

      So good that such a major stress is gone.

  • Tom says:

    I’ve never been a good sleeper and I think I’m naturally nocturnal. I sort of naturally want to go to bed around three and wake at 10am. I’ll also sleep for a. Outlet of hours, wake up, use the bathroom, read, have some water then drop back off after an hour up for another few hours. Also, at certain point when I’m asleep a bomb could go off and I’ll sleep through it (once, literally) and I have slept through thunderstorms and moderate earthquakes. Other times a gnat will blink and wake me up. Lately I’ve been wanting to nod off around 4 or 5 or so for a 15-20 minute nap. Then I’m all perky again. Well as perky as I get, anyway.

    • cinnamon says:

      Interesting. Does that sleep pattern work with your work life? I too sometimes sleep through things like thunderstorms but it’s only in those 4-5 hours of really heavy sleep. After that, almost anything can walk me.

      • Tom says:

        I would not be able to do indulge it if it didn’t. My previous job I was in the office at 7:30AM so 3AM bedtime was obviously a no-go. But I could do that early call for ,months and if I was on vacation go right back to 3AM-10AM sleep schedule immediately.

  • alityke says:

    Life long insomniac here. As I write this I am listening to both DH & Mr Jarvis making like hawgs!
    Apparently I was a poor sleeper as a baby & up before 6 am as a child. If it’s bad I’ll read my Kindle.
    Apparently fibromyalgia is linked to poor sleep. My Consultant told me that at diagnosis. Didn’t tell me how to improve my sleep though!

    • cinnamon says:

      I love dog snores and chortles, and the noises they make while dreaming. People: not so much. There seem like a lot of health things that are linked to poor sleep. That’s unhelpful of the consultant. Sometimes I wish they thought more laterally about the conditions we have.

      • alityke says:

        He had an interesting diagnostic technique. Without warning he gently squeezed the muscle joining my neck & shoulders. When I stopped screaming & he’d talked me down from the ceiling, he asked about my sleep. The said what was wrong.
        I had managed the team doing his research for years so forgave him. I didn’t have to constantly nag my GP for a diagnosis & got a referral to the pain clinic quickly.
        I’m not sure there is a cure for poor sleep. Sigh

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    My sleep patterns are fairly irregular and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for differences.
    5 hours is what my body seems to like as a solid sleep and if this happens I get up and do something. Anything. Clean the kitchen, write a blog post, make a cuppa and check the emails, take the dog for a wee. Really, anything, but it must be something constructive that needs to be done. Then I can go back to bed and sleep till the alarm.
    Other times I insomnia around the house like a ghoul, sleep 10 hours straight, sleep for two hours, feel fully refreshed and don’t need more and myriad other combinations.
    Fortunately I’m not a 9-5er and, if I need it, can always have a nap. 45 minutes seems to be my perfect nap amount.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      I still love your stories about dealing with jet lag with nighttime walks. How long do your nocturnal activities at home last? I can’t imagine getting up, taking an hour to do the kitchen and then dropping back to sleep. No, indeed, you don’t have the regular rigid schedule to adhere to.

  • Tara C says:

    I am like you, sleep for about four to five hours then lie awake for a long time or take drugs to knock me out. It’s rare that I get 7-8 hours without medication. I attribute this to hormones and anxiety. Until I was 35 I slept very well. Then perimenopause and divorce struck and it’s never been the same since.

    • cinnamon says:

      I can’t do drugs as I take enough stuff already. I do wonder about hormones — but I’m definitely not prepared to go the route of taking them. As to anxiety, agree that it messes up everything and sometimes all the little things you’re supposed to do to help don’t really have an impact.

  • rosarita says:

    I’m a good sleeper and feel my best at nine hours a night although I don’t often get that much. I take medication for several health problems and two of them have drowsiness as a side effect, so I take them at night, but even without that I nod off easily. When I get those rare but awful nights where your brain rehashes stupid things from youth at 3am, I try to imagine myself melting into the mattress – it helps. I’m sorry you have trouble sleeping, that’s torture.

    • cinnamon says:

      Ah, my meds don’t make me sleepy. Melting into the mattress. Interesting thought. Might add that to my box breathing and counting backwards. See how I go.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Category 2 here, a combination of painsomnia from various back and joint problems and random anxiety. My usual pattern is to wake every 2-4 hours and need to get up and move a bit. On good nights, I fall asleep again fairly quickly. On bad nights…I get some reading done.
    I have found that CBD products can be helpful for sleep – do you have a reputable source there?

    • cinnamon says:

      CBD. Interesting. Alas, I’m not willing to go that route given the drugs I already take. The medics have not been able to come up with things that might address the pain in a reasonably holistic way?

  • Alison Mille says:

    Sleep! One of my favorite topics and activities. I had a bad case of insomnia for about 10 years which only recently resolved. About a year ago I had to go on a special medical diet that required me to give up all caffeine – coffee, tea, soft drinks, etc. Suddenly I was sleeping like a rock, and have continued to do so unless I slip up. Example – one cup of coffee kept me awake for two days recently. I’m a convert!

    • cinnamon says:

      Ah, I haven’t knowingly consumed caffeine in a long time (the knowingly relates to wondering once or twice if the overworked barista at the bakery used the wrong coffee). But two days!!! Your poor being. I can’t even imagine that.