A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Monday, 18 January 2016

The Trouble with Sleep - Part 1

The trouble with sleepI have been rubbish at sleeping for as long as I can remember. This started when I covered a lot of on call in addition to full-time hours at work.

I'd notice that my performance after a night on call would be average, which I guess was only to be expected. The night after being on duty however, I'd be too tired to go to sleep. Following an exceptionally busy on call session, the impact of sleep deprivation even a couple of days later could affect my ability to function well.

Even on nights when I wasn't working I'd anticipate the phone ringing and this would keep me awake.

I'd been on the on call rota for several years by the time my twin daughters arrived and nothing could have prepared me for the night feeds. By the time these stopped, I found myself back at work and on call again; there were days when I probably couldn't have said what day of the week it was with any conviction.

My sleep pattern has been pretty atrocious ever since. I know the science behind poor sleep and how this can affect health and performance. I have tried to resolve my sleeping problems many times... and failed.

Over the years there have been many changes to my life and now I'm lucky enough to work (mostly) from home and my daughters are all grown-up and away at university.

I've learnt that I can go to sleep reasonably well while reading a book at bedtime, it's staying asleep that's the problem. As a fairly light sleeper I'm easily woken... the cat sneaking upstairs, my daughters coming up to bed at some ungodly hour when they're at home and my husband snoring are just a few of the things that wake me up. It can take ages for me to go back to sleep again.

My other problem is waking between 3 - 4am and feeling wide awake. I'm rather fond of sneaking downstairs and logging onto Twitter to see if there are any fellow insomniacs out there. Quite often there are a few of us using the hashtag #TroubleSleeping and sharing our tales of sleep deprivation. And that's fine, apart from feeling as though I need a catnap mid-afternoon and regularly falling asleep on the sofa at around 9pm.

The trouble with sleep

So, when I was invited to write a post about sleep by Kalms Herbal Remedies, I decided that resolving my sleep issues was going to be my New Year's resolution. It might be an unusual choice, but this was something I've been wanting to do for a very long time and it felt like a fabulous start to 2016.

I was asked to keep a daily sleep and performance diary for three weeks and try to stick to the guidelines I'd been given. I started on New Year's Eve. This wasn't the most auspicious start to the 'Wake Up Ready' campaign I'd hoped for, but in evaluating my sleep problems, it did make me realise that drinking half a bottle of Prosecco before bedtime wasn't conducive to a good night's sleep.

Everyone's sleep patterns are different and the length of time we need to sleep varies from person to person - seven to nine hours is considered 'normal.' If you find yourself frequently feeling tired and lethargic during the day, you may be experiencing sleep problems.

It's estimated that one in three people in the UK suffer from poor sleep, yet a good night's sleep is essential for our health in many ways, including immunity, emotional and psychological well-being.

In terms of performance, poor sleep can contribute to:  

1. Feeling groggy and lethargic during the morning
2. Increased irritability
3. Feeling drowsy during the day
4. Forgetfulness
5. Becoming accident prone
6. Feeling the need for caffeinated or sugary drinks
7. Being unable to switch off from the problems of the day
8. Difficulty concentrating

Signs of poor sleep include: 

1. Difficulty falling asleep
2. Light or restless sleeping
3. Waking often
4. Lying awake
5. Waking early

 How many of these can you identify with?

Or, if you're one of those lucky people who sleep well, do you have any tips to share?

Wake up ready

To discover how I got on with the sleep diary, click here to read Part 2.

This is a collaborative post.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


  1. Oh.Yes. I can identify with a lot of them! I take so long to fall asleep and then I'm wide awake around 4 and that's if Monkey hasn't woken my up beforehand (he's going through a phase!). Sorry no tips, but I sleep better after a bottle of wine :)

  2. I went through a terrible period of insomnia, when I was breaking up from a long-term relationship. It lasted a good year and took me ages to recover. I quite literally feel like a different person when I've had a good night's sleep. Thankfully my sleep's good at the moment - I really want it to stay that way! Sorry to hear you've had difficulties sleeping.

  3. Please do update! I have had appalling sleep ever since my teens so if you find a miracle cure I'd be all over it...

  4. Poor you! That sounds horrendous. And it also sounds like a really good new year's resolution. I really hope you can improve your sleep!
    I go to sleep early, but, like you, get disturbed easily. If anything wakes me at 4am (or later), that's game over for me! I think I average just under 6 hours sleep a night, which is OK, but if it gets closer to 5 I start to feel emotional and I know I haven't had enough sleep!

  5. I'm just like you: I've been a bad sleeper as long as I can remember and I've tried everything. Funnily enough I've never slept better than when I was pregnant! My first born is almost a year now, still waking up several times a night - meaning I usually sleep around 6 hours altogether :/ It's funny how you get used (or I have at least) to not sleeping enough - or is it just that you don't remember what it feels like to be well rested?? Anyway, hope keeping a sleep diary worked out well - look forward to part 2! xx #abitofeverything

  6. I've become quite the insomniac since the menopause kicked in and I can identify with all those things. People really do take sleep for granted until it eludes them. Good post.

  7. little sleep here, but at least 4-5 hours of deep sleep, after 3 weeks back in the world of work I'm full of cold, have dry skin and generally struggling to stay awake during the day

  8. I can really empathise with this. I have been an insomniac on and off all my life - thankfully more off than on these days! I love a good book before bedtime. It certainly tends to help :)

  9. I empathise with you, I have aweful problems sleeping these days. I find it hard getting to sleep, often my brain is too busy, and even when I do sleep its often restless sleep punctuated with periods of waking every hour. I know that screens should be avoided at night due to the blue light, but sometimes when sleep is not going to happen I turn to twitter for company too.
    Thanks for linking up, I look forward to part 2, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

  10. Oh I miss sleep so much. I used to be so good at it but I just don't get the opportunity anymore. I really do look forward to a time when my husband can help out with the early mornings and there are at least a few less late nights. At the moment I could sleep for a week. My little girl used to be a terrible sleeper and we found rain noise worked for her - it was like flicking a switch and she just immediately slept through. I've since heard of several adults that have successfully used white noise or rain noise to sort out their sleep issues, especially where they are light sleepers.x

  11. Hi Izzie, I am a terrible sleeper, like you I have no problem falling to sleep with a book in my hand (or balanced on the end of my nose), but staying a sleep can be a problem. I if I wake up and my brain clicks in then I rarely manage to fall to sleep again (must remember the hashtag #TroubleSleeping).

    I've even taken to wearing earplugs and an eye mask, which have both helped as a dob barking on Kefalonia will wake me up and the nieghbours light 200 meters away will also wake me up.

    On thing that helps for sure is regular exercise. When I haven't been able to get out for a run/walk or bike ride, for whatever reason I battle more. Also eating late or being hungry makes a difference too (you just can't win!).

    When my sleep is really bad I have taken to herbal remedies and have found they do work, I only take them for a couple of months to get me back on track.

    I'll be interested to see how Kalms Herbal Remedies work for you.



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