Older readers may recall that I went through some online CBT therapy a while ago for my sleeping problems. I’m not a person who struggles to get to sleep, but I am one who struggles to stay asleep.
Just recently, the pattern has been slipping again, and I’ve had some rotten nights, waking as early as 2:30 in the morning, and then only dozing fitfully, if at all, until it’s time to get up. I don’t even know why I have this problem: I’m not lying there wracked with anxiety or running through work things in my head. I’ve had to stop setting the dishwasher to come on in the middle of the night, taking advantage of cheaper electricity. This is bad, but so was the fact that the machine coming on – whenever it was set for – would always wake me up. So now I just run it when I run it, paying full whack for the solid gold electricity.
I do sometimes think I get alarm anxiety, and I’ve resolved to change my wake up time from 6:15 to 6:00 just because that extra 15 minutes (which I have only very occasionally actually slept up to) makes me feel as if I’m running late. In other words, I can be lying awake worrying that if I get back to sleep at, say, 4:30 am, I might actually sleep through to my alarm. There was a time, I would get up that early only if I was cycling to work instead of driving. There aren’t enough eye-roll emojis in the world for this.
Sometimes, I will stick on the podcast app and just burn through several shows, at low volume, just because I know that soothing background voices will help me doze. Maybe this is one of the reasons I don’t like those comedy podcasts: because they’re not soothing.
The changing of the clocks is often a chance to reset the balance, and get back onto some kind of sane schedule, but this spring it doesn’t seem to have helped much. The pattern you get into: lack of sleep leading to an early or mid-afternoon slump, the inevitable nap, and the feeling that – because of the nap – you’re going to wake up in the middle of the night.
On Sunday I was on the airport run for my younger daughter, which meant getting up at 3 a.m. Obviously, I am so used to this that I was fine. I’d been awake for an hour anyway: part of my problem is that if I have anything out of the ordinary happening the following day, I cannot sleep. Again: I’m not conscious of worrying about anything, but knowing that I will be doing something will wake me up. So I drove to Stansted and then back again, and I was home by around 7 a.m.
By 8 o’clock I was on the couch under a blanket, sleeping. Fine. Got up around 9:00 and tried to promise myself that I wouldn’t succumb to any more naps, but would try to stay awake until a reasonable bed time.
By lunchtime, after a morning spent feeling cloud headed and sick with fatigue I was asleep on the couch again. After this, I forced myself to get up and out of the house and went for a bike ride. I was better after that, and lasted until about 9 p.m. before going up to bed to read, perchance to dream.
As it was, the exhaustion was so complete that I had a pretty good night. I did wake up several times, I think everyone does, but I was back off again without any drama, until 5 a.m., when I woke up and did the Wordle, knowing there would be no more sleep.
I feel much better today, much more like a normal person. Why, it’s almost three in the afternoon and I’m still awake.