Sleep

Never underestimate the power and value of sleep.

I have always placed importance on sleep. Right throughout my life. I cherish my ability to be able to fall asleep quite readily until I can’t.

In my late teenage years I would lie in bed waiting for sleep to come. It always came later than my bedtime. It infuriated me. At the time I didn’t recognise it as insomnia. I didn’t realise that my time clock was functioning a couple of hours behind. This is normal for teenagers. Again I didn’t know this at the time. I didn’t really think about turning on the light to read in the space between awake and sleep. During those years I had turned my back on reading, I was more interested in drinking and trying to fit in. Luckily I found my way back to books a few years later. And sleep came as easily as it did before.

Now I again treasure books and surround myself with them as if my life depends on them.

The other time I couldn’t sleep was right after giving up alcohol. I would lie awake and wish for sleep to come. Sometimes it never came. I kept saying to myself to be patient. Close your eyes. Sleep will come. But it didn’t. I must have gotten some winks because I woke up exhausted and wreaked. Becoming sober was difficult because I lost so much sleep. I had bad insomnia. I didn’t get dry horrors. I didn’t suffer from hallucinations. I didn’t really crave alcohol too much. I was tired of drinking and I could see an early unnecessary death at my lack of ‘stop’ when drinking. It must have been about 3-4 months before my sleep got back to normal. It was a tug of war between is it worth giving up drinking to feel so wretched with the lack of sleep. I persevered and kept believing in it will get better, sleep will come back. Thank God it did. I do not think light of my ability to sleep well. It is a habit practised everyday. It is something to be looked forward to and enjoyed. Sometimes we get less than we need. We adjust and make time to get to bed earlier. To make sleep a priority.

Sleep. Invest in a comfortable bed. Good sheets and blankets, duvets that you can afford. You will spend a third of your life in bed. So it should be enjoyable. A good night’s sleep gives you the strength to face the next day. It revives. It restores. It allows our body and mind to rest. Although they don’t seem to rest at all. The body is forever mending itself. The brain is dreaming. Most of which we never remember and can’t make head nor tail of it. Regardless sleep is important.

I am thankful I have a roof over my head. A warm bed. There is no war or violence that prevents me from waking up at any sudden sound of danger. I am grateful for the softness of the sheets. The more you wash them the softer they become. The rituals the cats perform before sleeping is as peaceful as can be. The mandatory circling. The mandatory licking and preening. The stretching and the final position chosen. Sleep achieved. They don’t overthink, they no longer worry about their next meal, they feel safe. They are home.

Our rescue kittens have transformed into relaxed cats. Sure they run and hide with the occasional stranger in the house. They growl at cars from the windowsills. They dash in the opposite direction at the sound of an engine when outside. For that I am glad. Protection from cars is instinct.

I watch them sleep. It brings me joy. With the cast on my leg I seem to go to the loo more often at night. And with that, the movement of the duvet, the light turned on, the sound of the knee scooter making its way to the bathroom. One cat has dutifully woken up and accompanied me each and every time. Her care for me just warms my heart. Lately she comes sometimes. I put that down to the fact that she believes she can trust me to be alone on the loo. She believes the bone to be healed. She believes that I am okay.

Watching them sleep, one curled up into a ball, neat and tidy, tail encircling the body, the other one sprawled out, underbelly showing, untidy and relaxed as cat-possible, as I said it brings me joy. They no longer bother to wake if I roll over, or adjust the pillows under my leg. They carry on sleeping. They feel safe. They feel protected. They feel loved. They are content. They have a home. That is all.

Sleep well.

5am revisited

My body thinks that 5am means going to bed at 5am.
Getting up at 5am isn’t going to happen for me. I give up for now.

Insomnia is still with me. Hard physical work, long Epsom salt baths, lavender tea, going to bed early just isn’t working.

I am just going to roll with the hours and see where it takes me. Sleep when my body says sleep. Not because it’s the norm. This morning it was almost 5am that I got to sleep. It wasn’t for the love of trying.

I give up. I surrender. Sleep: do your worst. I will follow your lead.

5am

I got watching a YouTuber and how they are now getting up every morning at 5am. I thought YES. I can try this too. Insomnia is with me and if I can shake her off smartly I can start a new habit.

I set my alarm for 5am. I got to bed at 1am. My reminder to go to bed did go off at 9:30pm. I ignored it. I lay in bed willing sleep to come. I tried relaxing all parts of my body one by one. Nothing seemed to help. My phone was charging in the hall. So one good thing was no electronic device in the bedroom. Sleep didn’t really come to me. I tried for an hour. I decided to get up. Yes. Really. I decided that I was going to kickstart my new habit. I got up as if it were morning.

I had a bath and read a book, Between the World and Me. Couldn’t put it down. Such a good book. Put my book away. Washed my hair and got ready for my new day. I had breakfast and ate mindfully. I then went and sat down at my desk and wrote my three pages, my morning pages.

It still wasn’t 5am yet. It was dark outside and I had completed three tasks already. I felt almost at a loss of what to do next. I am never up this early. One thing the woman from YouTube said was to ask yourself why you are wanting to get up early. And not to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off. Get up immediately.

I was already up.

Managed to snooze for 2 hours during the day but found it hard staying up all day. Day one of the 5am starts wasn’t that successful. Yes I was up. Yes I started my day earlier but it was all such a shock to my system.

Day 2 of trying my 5am starts. Had a cat visit to the vet that day so it was stressful. Vaccinations. Played hide under the bed for 10 minutes. One didn’t want to get into the cage. One didn’t want to get out. Went to bed by 10pm. I was exhausted. All good. Changed my clock to a 6am wake up. Woke up at 3am. Turned my alarm off. Slept for another 8 hours. Attempt 2 at 5am starts was a disaster. Effort 0/10. Sleep 10/10 A win against insomnia.

Haven’t given up. Will try again tonight to get an earlier night.

Do I have my head around this idea properly yet? I wonder if I really do.

Why am I trying to get up early? I want to be more active. I want to start the day better. I want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the morning. I want to eat breakfast leisurely. I want to write during the quiet time. I want to be awake to enjoy the sun rise.

Batting on a sticky wicket

Almost a month ago I wrote:

Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t ask why. Just let me be. This feeling will pass. I am just recording how I am feeling.

I feel low and sad. I let the tears run down my cheek. Sausage rolls are in the oven baking. I am in the same clothes as yesterday. I want to have a bath. Lie in Epsom salts and let the magnesium soak into my body.

Chronic insomnia is what I have. Trouble falling asleep. Caused by poor sleeping habits. I can see that. I don’t feel rested after waking up. It all began when I gave up alcohol. I thought I would ride it out. Let my sleep come back to me when it was ready. I can no longer wait.

On the edge of peri-menopause going into menopause and the hormones are all over the place.

Today:

A much better time of it. Life. I did a concentrated effort of work that I had been putting off for months. Normally I have a wine or two or more while doing it. It’s computer work, work, work. This week was the first time to do it sober. Starting was the hard part. It always is. Regardless of drinking or not. I motored through on Friday. My face said stay away I’m focused. Fierce is how I was described. Let’s just say I was not disturbed. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I dithered and I dallied. Almost done with the job. And boy it feels good to get through it sober.

I am lining up projects to do now. Fun projects. I want to sort out my vegetable garden. Make it look better. Get rid of a grassed area and have it in raised garden beds and mulched pathways. A chicken coop next to it.

There is a heat wave. (Hardly but, for here yes.) The coming week looks on average 27-30 degrees Celsius (80-86 F). The humidity is lower than most years which is a bonus. During the day the cicadas sing and as evening falls the crickets break out into chorus. The cats lay sprawled out blissfully unaware of my stress to show up at the computer.

Insomnia is still with me. 3:30am yesterday. Falling asleep is becoming easier. It may not seem like it as i write this. Trust me it is getting easier. I am not stressing about it. It don’t have to get up early. I am living in New Zealand with a Mumbai body clock. For summer the long evenings are wonderful. I don’t really want to go to bed early. I’m not trying. When the weather cools off I will hopefully adjust naturally to going to bed before midnight. Optimism.

All good.

Day 52

In bed by 11pm after a long soak in an Epsom salt bath with a book. More reading till almost midnight. Lights out. I relaxed every part of my body in anticipation of sleep. Sleep didn’t come. 1:30am rolled around. Light on again. More reading. Light off. Calling quiet now for sleep. Less tossing and turning and sighing last night. Managed to get to sleep somewhere around two. Better. Not great but better. Doesn’t help when my cats wake me up at 7:30am greeting me with ciaos and demanding food and acknowledgement with a tummy rub. I get up without a grizzle. I do it with love and wander off to the toilet before heading back to bed and more sleep. The alarm clock said 8am. I changed it back to 9am. Even then it wasn’t enough. 10am and finally I emerged. Bleary eyed. Not rearing to go but up.

Sleep is not my BFF anymore. I don’t know where we went wrong. It all happened around the time I became sober. I stayed up late instead of going to bed. The evenings were long. I sat in a daze of what now. Either I abandoned sleep or she abandoned me. I’m trying to get in sleep’s good graces but it is an effort. Worth it but exhausting.

Showing up is showing commitment and I will show up before midnight every night and wait patiently for sleep. I won’t get frustrated if she doesn’t show. I won’t get angry. I will not sigh. I will not toss and turn and wrestle with the sheets. I will persevere. Sleep will come around again. I may get up and wander the house and do something else but I will come back to bed and try again. Patience and perseverance will prevail.

The gym today. I made it. I walked on the treadmill to the words of my audio book. I cycled for a bit. Then I jumped onto a bosu ball and tottered awkwardly about. And done. Heat rate elevated more than usual so I took it easy.

Grit The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth is my book for the evenings. It is almost finished. It is fascinating. It is difficult to put down. Perhaps it is the wrong choice to have beside the bed. Instead it should be a boring/difficult book. One hard to pick up rather than one to put down. I will be onto the next soon and it will no longer matter.

Day 51

Being sober is the easy part. The decision to become sober was difficult. Finding what to do next and how to do it is the struggle. More the “how” really.

I am sober but the habits that surrounded the alcohol are still with me. Tidying and cleaning, basically housework in general is not something I excel at. Our home looks lived in. It is not a show home. It has books and comfortable couches and day beds. It has things scattered on the floor. It is not ready for visitors or guests. That’s okay for now.

I used to strive for perfection. Then I realised that it was ridiculous. I still try but not to the extent I used to do. I overdo things and need a gentle nudge to stop trying to do everything at once. I am finding more peace with dropping perfection, guilt, paranoia and regret. These things I dropped before becoming sober. Anxiety is still with me but in a much weaker form. Depression is with me too but I recognise it, accept it and have learnt to live with it better. Fear is still with me. Fear is holding me back. I know this. I recognise this. I aim to challenge myself and make the fear smaller or contained. First though comes care. I need better care before I can face fear.

The past two years I chose to face things. Facing something is scary. It is easier to postpone, to look elsewhere. It is difficult to face something but once faced it removes a brick in the wall that surrounds yourself. It allows you to find lightness, makes it easier to breathe.

Facing something allows you to move on.

Insomnia is taking a hint and edging towards her packed bags at the door. I am managing to get to sleep by about 2am. Huge improvements for me. I took a bath with Epsom salts, 2 cups worth and soaked while reading a book with tea and a nice candle. It was relaxing. I had forgotten the magnesium in Epsom salts. Magnesium sulphate, of course. One source of increasing my magnesium.

Accidentally kicked my Epsom salts glass jar in the bathroom a few weeks ago. Sober. Glass and salt everywhere. Yikes. That stopped my habit dead. I want a replacement jar for it but something unbreakable. Zip lock bag will have to suffice for now. The jar was in the corner out of the way I thought but my foot found it regardless. Clumsiness is still with me.

I made it to the gym once this week. I did mini habits twice. I am eating better. I am enjoying homemade toasted muesli and adding more fruit and vegetables to my life. My weight is going down. The scales are showing me numbers that I haven’t seen in months. A healthier me is beginning to show.

Reading is my rock. Non fiction, fiction, doesn’t really matter. My list of books to read is getting longer and my tangents are dividing as I explore further. Learning and leisure is for everyone.

Progress made. Half way through this week I got lost but I found my way back again. Onwards.

Living in a Different Time Zone

I have not travelled recently. I do not have jet lag. I am living 6 hours behind or 18 hours ahead. I cannot sleep at a ‘normal’ time. Last night I managed to get to sleep somewhere between two and three. Last night was an early night. Lately it has been creeping up to four and five. That is my new normal. I do enjoy the quiet of the night. I stay up really late enjoying the peace. Then I toss and turn deeply sighing for an hour or more. Driving DH up the wall.

The evenings are long. I am still finding myself in this sober new world. Mini Habits are helping. Yesterday was Saturday. I made it my rest day. No need to, should, must need apply. Saturday is rest day. Sunday is my reflection and planning day.

Watched Diet Fiction last night. Excellent documentary. I am already adding more whole foods to my diet. I am on the right track. I am improving my diet, one whole food at a time. This will help me sleep better. Although I made muesli two days ago. I had it for three meals yesterday. Not sure if that was how I was supposed to eat it not. It tastes good. Will reserve it for breakfasts in the future. Remember Saturday was my rest day. Anything goes. Pyjama day all day.

Giving up alcohol was the easy part. I have gained time, health, money, freedom,… The only part I have yet to get under control is sleep. I am going back to the gym tomorrow. Exercise is a part of new old me. I started exercising before quitting alcohol and I am continuing with exercise. I have had a month break over Christmas/New Year. Time to get back to it.

Exercise, better eating should help get me back to better sleeping habits. Day 44 sober and my sleep is way out of wack, it’s on the other side of the planet. I am feeling tired when I wake up. I do not have this under control. Don’t worry it doesn’t make me want to open a bottle of wine. Or raid the drinks cabinet. I have a bottle of Noilly Prat sitting there. I have not moved the cabinet contents to the garage yet.

I haven’t mowed the lawns in a month. The weeds are high again. I don’t feel anxious about this. I don’t feel guilt. I feel an acceptance. It looks untidy but it looks free too. The birds and the bees are happy. The cats are happy. I am happy too. We have no front lawn. Living on a back section has its perks. There is no road side appeal. There is just a driveway to suggest that someone lives behind and beyond. It’s private and quiet. Just the way I like it.

Summer this year is warm and dry. The summer rains are absent. The evenings are long, breezy and cool. There is little humidity. It is pleasant. I have become a creature of the night. Summer is divine. The animals are feed and watered. I look after them better than I do myself. My passion fruit vine needs water, so do my tomatoes. My coriander/cilantro has gone to seed. My lime tree is still a baby. No limes again this year. Strawberries are a gift to the birds. The rhubarb leaves are huge. Cicadas chirp during the day and the crickets start up in the evenings.

Insomnia is with me for the summer. It hasn’t taken the hint that they are not welcome anymore. I am a good host. I have allowed Insomnia into my home. Insomnia is lying on the couch watching Netflix and reading books. Insomnia looks comfortable and settled. I would like Insomnia to leave. I have Insomnia’s bags packed and waiting by the door. Subtlety is not a trait that Insomnia has. Bluntness has little effect either. Will wait until Insomnia gets bored with me. Shouldn’t be long now, should it?

If I carry on with my life and build myself up stronger through exercise and more whole foods, vegetables and fruit ignoring Insomnia maybe one day I will wake up and she will be gone. Here’s hoping.

The Damage the Poison Leaves

Sober 40 days.

It took me a week to feel less wobbly on my new sober feet. But what of my liver? My skin? My heart? My soul? My body? My home?

Insomnia is perhaps a body’s way of saying I’m recovering. Cut me some slack. I’m resting. A different time zone and be done with that. If I had a 9-5 job with insomnia it would be more than a challenge. It would be…I don’t know what it would be. I feel that I am almost getting through the insomnia. Today I woke at noon. I woke and staggered down the hall. Half asleep, not awake. It was not unpleasant. It was a sober stagger. My body is tired and it is saying, be kind, care for me some more. Rest and bear with me. Just a little longer.

My liver is repairing itself. I am sober. I am drinking more water. I am eating better. I am moving more. I am sleeping.

How long does it take to repair a fatty liver?
Could be up to 6 weeks.

At the end of six weeks I hope that the insomnia is finished with me and wanders off and spends time with someone else. I also hope that my liver is restored to better health.

I’m going back to sleep. It may be 1pm. But who really cares? I’m an adult. My time is mine and I will sleep in the afternoon if I want to. I have nowhere to be other than here. Good night.

On a hot summer’s day

All I could think about yesterday evening was how a glass of wine would be nice. I watched a film and they were drinking on that too. Cocktails and glasses of wine. I went on YouTube and the videos I watched people were drinking wine there too. I couldn’t get away from it.

It infuriated me. I ate instead of drinking wine. I didn’t need to eat. I wasn’t hungry. It was comfort eating. It was a habit. A bad one. The one good thing in all, I didn’t have any alcohol. I am still sober. Day 28.

Going strong with a wobbly day yesterday. I haven’t felt that I was missing anything. Okay the first week I felt and convinced myself I was giving up fun and joy. By week two I realised I was thinking stupid thoughts and I was gaining freedom and control of my life. Yesterday I slipped up with thoughts of what I am missing, instead of all the positive gains I have so far.

My skin looks better.
I feel proud of my self control.
I am SAVING money.
I sleep more soundly.

Insomnia is still with me. I cannot get to sleep before 2am. I am leaning into it. I am not getting upset with it. With my lifestyle I can manage. I don’t have a 9-5 job and so don’t have to get up early. But I am having brunch at 3pm and so my eating habits and sleeping habits are on European time. I’m living in the wrong time zone. Probably I need to set my alarm clock and get up early one day, regardless of the desire to stay in bed and sleep some more. Bite the bullet.

Sleep deprived

Tea-ed out, chocolated out and sleep deprived. Didn’t bother to go to bed until 2am because I thought what was the point in tossing and turning for hours. Turned out to be a smart idea. I fell asleep soon after getting to bed. Woke up this morning though wanting to sleep more. My face says tired. My hair says brush me. I ignore them both and go out.

I skipped the gym today. And I’m okay with that. Guilt is absent. I’m giving myself a break. I’m being kind to myself. That said, I really should have brushed my hair before going out. Too late now. I’m home again.

I need to buy more tea and chocolate if I am going to survive the holiday season. Yes. Need. To remain sober I need to have distraction. I have been drinking copious amounts of tea. I have found a tea I like and I’m going to go crazy and buy the lot. It’s not a popular tea. Pomegranate. I hope they have it in stock.

Sweet craving are the norm for those that go sober. It’s to be expected. For me, the one with the sweet tooth, I hope that I don’t balloon out to greet the wind.

The hours between 8 and 10 in the evenings are my witching hours. Beware the sweet tooth monster during those times and you can make it through the night. Otherwise watch out and reap the wrath of the monster.