Day four: three hours, 36 minutes

This is the first time we have fallen short of the Four Hour Rule.

I went to bed when the little hand was on the 10 (is it the little hand? I have actually forgotten) and was awake at 1.36am.

I’ve tried the old ‘going back to sleep’ thing but it doesn’t work: unlike in bygone days when I could snooze ’til lunchtime. And actually, the early hours are the most creative for me.

On the other hand I am officially not responsible for anything that I might say or do this morning.

(Possible reasons why I didn’t sleep long: I’m now hungry because of eating dinner too early; I had my glass of wine AFTER my meal; I did a work interview too late in the day and was still buzzing a bit when I went to bed.)

People have offered a lot of advice over the years, some of it more useful than others. Although my actual favourite has to be from the (apparently trained) mental health care professional who said the following:

‘Accept you are never going to sleep again, and just get on with your life.’

In no particular order, here are some other bits of counsel that have come my way.

  • Try medication: A big subject. Sleeping pills can be helpful in the short term, but they have diminishing returns. And a particular kind were bad for me, as a psychiatrist briefly had me hooked on benzodiazepines (valium-type drugs), which did make me sleep a bit. However, I also recall standing, shaking, waiting for the chemist to open so I could get my new prescription. Antidepressants are different from sleeping pills. More on all this another time.
  • Don’t try medication: I totally respect those people who cured their insomnia with Jo Malone candles and camomile tea. Mazeltov. Didn’t work for me.
  • Eat more carbs, eat fewer carbs: Eat foods containing tryptophan, an amino acid that apparently turns into the feelgood hormone serotonin. This is then apparently converted into the hormone melatonin, which promotes sleep. You can find tryptophan in turkey, nuts and seeds, kidney beans and turnips. Didn’t work for me, and made me feel a bit sick.
  • Get a FitBit: which will prove you do sleep, actually. Except one night FitBit told me I was sleeping when I was down in the kitchen making some toast.
  • Try Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: another big subject. CBT contains a set of techniques ‘to help tackle the racing mind and behavioural strategies to help reset sleeping patterns naturally, without relying on sleeping pills.’ This is according to Sleepio, an online sleep improvement programme sponsored by the NHS. There is solid logic behind CBT and empirical evidence that it works. It didn’t work back in the day when I was really unwell. Perhaps something to revisit?

  • Other suggestions included: lavender oil on my pillow; spray magnesium on your arm (suspiciously white and gloopy); try reiki (too weird); stop taking naps (haven’t taken a nap since I was three.)
  • Give up coffee: give that person an NVQ!

Does anyone have any new advice? Please write in the comments section at the end.

All the suggestions above (except the coffee one perhaps) are worthy blog topics in their own right, which means I may have material to keep this going beyond the first week.

Ok, it’s getting light now. Time for my first cup of (caffeinated) tea.