Warm milk, lavender oil, meditation, yoga, a bath before bed, writing lists, keeping a diary, exercising before bed, not exercising before bed, avoiding caffeine and booze, turning the phone off, opening the window, reading, going to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time, dropping the weekend lie-ins, herbal sleeping pills, medicated sleeping pills…
I’ve tried it all. But far from floating out of bed in a well-rested state uttering my favourite positivity mantra as I contemplate the many ways in which I will conquer the forthcoming day, my first thought is generally to curse the alarm clock while doing a mental reckoning of how many hours I have to get through before I can attempt to grab some more sleep.
It’s not the dropping off that’s the problem (although I can never rule it out). It’s the staying asleep that’s my particular issue. Once awake, my mind explodes into action, transforming each trivial thought I have into a fresh catastrophe ready to strike once the day begins. As yet, none of these impending catastrophes have occurred. I’m alive. I still have a job. My friends like me, I think.
My insomnia comes and goes though. I’ll get through a week, or maybe even two, without any wakeful periods. While still feeling generally knackered, I’ll feel relieved that I’ve not had to spend any of those awful dark hours clock watching as my panic rises. Then it returns. Punishing me for daring to hope that it had been on more than a little break.
Now I’m fighting back. I don’t want to be defeated by insomnia, so I’m choosing to see it as an opportunity. So I might feel wrecked after another night of four hours’ sleep. I’ve got through it before and I’ll get through it again. Insomnia, you give me the gift of time. And who can’t do with more time in their life?