Updated; as I forgot to link this to Carole Knits.
I never used to have a problem sleeping. Then I separated from my first husband, and since then I struggle, and I mean struggle to sleep.
When we first separated, I was scared to go to sleep, as sleep was the only respite from the searing pain, but when I woke up, the pain refreshed and blindsided me every time. I’d read, nod off, drop the book. Wake up. Read, start to doze, turn the light out. Wake up. I’d lie there for hours trying to work out why, when I had been the one to want to leave and was making plans to go, when he left me, did it hurt so bad? I’ve come to the conclusion, it was because he ripped the power of my decision out from underneath me. At one point he couldn’t make his mind up between me and my friend who he wanted to be with. What a lovely man.
One of the reasons I found it so traumatic was due to him playing me like a puppet on a string. I didn’t know what was happening. I’d start to get some healing underway, he’d call me and f*** it all up again. It was a very trying, long 2-3 months. I also am hazy on what actually happened in what order, because my stress levels were so high, my memories are scrambled. I can remember some things with clear, distinct details, but not others. All I know is, now, I cannot and do not find sleep easy.
Which I why I love siestas, going to sleep in daylight for a couple of hours, I fall asleep quickly, sleep like a log, I don’t move and wake up feeling refreshed. I grab a siesta most weekends, sometimes I won’t set an alarm and will be comatose for anything up to 4 hours, sometimes I will set an alarm for 1hr 15mins, which is the optimum time (for me) to get some zzzs and not lose half a day.
Now when I go to sleep in the evenings, the room has to be near enough pitch black. To give you an example, I can’t get to sleep if there is a chink of light anywhere, I will lie there and stare at the curtains, willing them to close. I don’t want to move to close the chink, in case I wake my husband and he thinks I’m weird. If I roll over, I know it is still there. I used to sleep with thin cotton fabric, which let the morning sun through with a glorious pink glow. I can’t imagine it now.
I now also have an audio book playing from when the light goes out, to when the alarm goes off. Not loudly, loud enough so that if I wake up, I can listen to the words, write them in my mind and so I can drop off again. Because if I think about anything else, I’ll be up for hours.
As I approach the end of this pregnancy, I’m also struggling with getting to and staying asleep. Rolling over in bed requires me transferring the folded towel supporting my bump from one side to the other, not something you can do half asleep. If I lie on my back, I now can’t breathe deeply enough to let my breathing help me drift off. What I would give to sleep on my front. I fantasize about it. Lying on my tummy is fulfilled at the chiropractor, as she has a cushion with a hole in it to support pregnant ladies. Yesterday’s appointment, she put me on my front, gently made sure my pelvis was in position, and covered me with a blanket, leaving the room she told me to rest. I nearly started crying when she came back in again and I had to get back up.
The only thing I find helpful, and even then not all the time, are the Andrew Johnson podcasts. His Scottish burr is soothing, and while they worked earlier in my pregnancy, I unfortunately mostly now lie listening to them all the way through, although that’s because of my bump, not him. On average I get one decent night sleep a week. The rest of the time, forget it.
I’m sorry I don’t have any other tips for you on what to do, or how to get off to sleep. I’ve exhausted (boom boom) every option I know, and have accepted that the person I once was, who would and could sleep for England, who had to be woken up to be fed as a baby, is long gone. Lying next to my husband, who sleeps as soon as his head hits the pillow, while I take an age to drift off, is maddening. I miss lying in bed, wiggling into a sleep inducing position, and just sleeping – so much.