So much to do, so little time…Posted: 10/06/2014
The other night, ToddlerGirl woke at around 2.30am needing a cuddle. I settled her back in her bed with a kiss and headed back to our room. Of course, once awake, I needed the loo. And am now at that awkward stage of pregnancy where it takes forever to wedge yourself into a comfortable sleeping position. Having arranged and rearranged all my many pillows a few times, I lay back down and looked at the clock. 3am. Gah. Must Get Sleep. By then, though, my sleepy brain had whirred into action and a whole host of thoughts started dancing around in my head. The quick wake up to settle ToddlerGirl had turned into full blown insomnia and I was unable to go back to sleep until 6am…
Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual occurrence for me. I have always been prone to insomnia, which used to strike in my pre-baby days if I had a lot on my plate or was anticipating a particularly big day at work – maybe an important presentation that I wanted to be really fresh and on the ball for. Yep, my subconscious is that unkind to me!
You’d think since taking a career break to be at home with ToddlerGirl my insomnia would be a thing of the past. If anything, however, it has become a lot worse. Back in my working days, it was an isolated incident (or at most over a couple of nights) and could be shaken off quickly with a super early night, uninterrupted sleep and a lazy, relaxing weekend.
That doesn’t happen anymore!
After having ToddlerGirl, the multiple nightwakings for feedings and then just for no reason that we could fathom played havoc with my sleeping patterns and I would often lie awake for additional hours in the night, completely unable to switch off and relax enough to get back to sleep. It was ever so frustrating to be wasting such precious sleep time (a thought that probably didn’t help matters at all). This went on for eighteen months and it took me a while to get back into a normal sleeping rhythm once ToddlerGirl started to reliably sleep through the night.
But I’m finding the insomnia striking again as I head into the final couple of months of pregnancy. Why?
I suspect it’s because my brain is full of about a billion Things To Do at the moment.
There’s the day to day household stuff. There’s ToddlerGirl and organising pre-school and potty training and wondering how we can improve her sleeping patterns before number two arrives. There’s the small matter of sorting everything out for the baby – I didn’t think we’d have to worry about this too much having already got most of the equipment from first time round, but it turns out we do have things to get and things to arrange for this one as well!
And, down the priority list, there’s an online project that I’ve been trying to find time to work on. There’s my blog. Two items that aren’t nearly as pressing in the scheme of things but which I’d love to focus on now, just for me, as I’m aware that they will be the very bottom of my list by the autumn.
These thoughts are swimming around in my head all day. I have to do lists coming out of my ears but I don’t always get the time to sit down and work through them. The result is that I am awake at 3am in the morning, finding it impossible to shut down my ticking brain. We have a deadline looming and I’m clearly starting to feel some stress creep in…
Of course, the world isn’t going to stop in the autumn when we have a little newborn in the house. In the cold light of day, I can be calm and rational and realise that we will fit in the essential tasks over the next couple of months and muddle through the rest when the baby arrives. When I am lying awake in the middle of the night, though, it just feels like we have so many things to do and really not enough time to do them all in.
On which note, I should probably stop writing a blog post and tackle a few items on the to do list!
A few ways to deal with insomnia
I am obviously no expert but if you’re prone to insomnia too, here are a few things that work for me:
1. Log off early in the evening
This is easier said than done – the evening is often my only time to get online or to write – but I’ve noticed that the later in the evening I’m on the computer, the worse I sleep. I try to have an 8pm/9pm switch off time whenever possible.
2. Don’t check your phone in bed!
This is related to point number one but I find that mobile phones and tablets affect me much more than the laptop, especially if I’ve spent a while playing on my phone just before I try to go to sleep. Have a look at this article written for National Sleep Awareness Week highlighting how our mobiles, laptops and tablets can be keeping us awake.
3. Don’t push yourself to stay up too late
I am very bad at taking early nights – my evening time is precious to me and I don’t want to be heading upstairs just as we’ve put ToddlerGirl down. But I do also notice that I can be exhausted at 8pm and then strangely wide awake come 11pm! It’s probably a similar thing to children becoming overtired and too wired to settle and I find that, as well as making it more difficult to drop off, it affects the quality of my sleep overnight.
4. Get up if you can’t sleep…
I’ve read this tip quite a few times over the years. If you can’t get back to sleep within half an hour or so, stop trying and get out of bed! The idea being that you will probably wake yourself up all the more with the frustration of not sleeping. The advice is to do a mundane task, such as folding the laundry, and then head back to sleep to try again. Don’t watch TV or do anything too stimulating! It’s quite difficult to haul yourself out of bed as, even if insomnia is striking, you’re actually still really tired, but I have tried this technique a few times and it does seem to work. For more details, see this article Can’t sleep? When to get out of bed.
There are lots more tips in this article on promoting good ‘sleep hygiene’ from the National Sleep Foundation.
Do you suffer from insomnia? What do you do to shake it off?