Chasing Sleep

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I’ve haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in three years.

The primary reason for my sleep disturbance/insomnia is actually the menopause or the ‘this effing menopause’ as I affectionately refer to it now. Before this I had no problem getting my eight hours in. I had my fair share of racy dreams (mostly about certain members of Duran Duran) but then my hormones decided to revolt and nowadays I’m lucky if I can get two hours in between hormone induced panic attacks and when I do dream I’m usually naked on a public toilet or being chased by tidal waves.

There are many reasons why people struggle to get a good nights sleep.

Daytime Habits

Loafing in front of the TV all day watching Jeremy Kyle and doing sod all in the way of exercise.

Watching TV, playing video games or social networking in bed.

Guzzling down copious amounts of coffee (or gin) – key word is STIMULANT.

Working nights or shifts

Having a bedroom that’s not conducive to a good night’s sleep, as in, total shit-hole with crap curtains and last months undies decomposing in the corner. So grand a scale of shit-hole is your boudoir that the rats evict themselves!

Psychological Problems

Stress is a major reason for insomnia and there are many reasons why people get stressed.

Health Problems

Asthma, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, hyperthyroidism, acid reflux, kidney disease, cancer, and chronic pain. Common medications such as antidepressants, cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine, diuretics, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, and high blood pressure medications can also interfere with your sleep. I’ll include menopause here because, although it isn’t an technically an illness, it does create a whole heap of shitty symptoms and insomnia is one of them.

So what can we do?

The Effect of Music on Sleep

A survey of 6,000 British adults by Travelodge showed that 20 per cent like to listen to classical music before bedtime with the most popular sleep-inducing composers being Beethoven, Mozart and Bach. The study also revealed that 85 per cent of Brits listen to music to help them get to sleep with 13 per cent reporting that they have sweet dreams if they fall asleep when music is on. I’m presuming they don’t mean Slipknot?

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Sweet dreams are made of this?

The hotel chain put together a Top Ten β€˜Kip Chart’ from the findings. Mozart came in at number seven, making him the top sleep-inducing composer. Coldplay smashed it at number one making them the band most likely to send you to sleep. Not entirely sure that’s an accolade they ever hoped for but there yer go.

I’ve known about the calming effect that classical music has on babies since I had my little man and Classic FM has been lulling him off for the last six years. It also helps me to nod off, mostly. However, staying in the land of nod is generally my problem and that’s down to dips in my blood sugar levels causing adrenaline surges which trigger panic attacks. Listening to classical music helps calm me down during an attack, especially the choral stuff. Maybe I was a nun in a past life?

Last week BBC Radio Three looked into the effect that music has on the subconscious via the Why Music weekend with the centerpiece being an all night performance by composer Max Richter. In the longest single continuous piece of music ever broadcast live by the BBC (eight hours to be exact) King of Kip, Max, was joined by soprano Grace Davidson, five string players and an audience (complete with beds) who were encouraged to experience the music through the state of sleep. The piece is called, er, Sleep.

I also feel that there is an intuitive connection between sleeping and music beyond this – and this connection is summed up by the tradition of the lullaby, which seems to be a universal in human culture ~ Max Richter

Having nodded off fairly quickly that night, I woke up at 12.08am having an encounter of the panic kind so I went downstairs armed with my pillows and radio. Having apologised to the lurcher for waking her up (costing me a Bonio) I curled up on the sofa. Having remembered about the BBC programme, I listened to that in the hope that it would distract me from the familiar yet unpleasant sensations that come with a panic attack. The music was almost ethereal in parts especially when the soprano was giving it some and it evoked something within me which made me cry but in a good way. Most importantly I found myself calming down quite quickly. Nice one, Max!

I’ve since downloaded a condensed hour version of Sleep and can honestly say the combination of making sure that I had a small snack (some rancid organic sugar free peanut butter on toast) before bed to help with the blood sugar levels and listening to the music helped me sleep all night.

YES FOLKS, I GOT A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP IN! WHOOP WHOOP!

I had another one of my naked on the toilet dreams but to be fair I did need a wee. Not sure why I was naked though?

So, after trial and error, here are my kip tips..

  • Make your bedroom a haven of tranquility. ( or just have OH’s skiddy pants sent off to the local incinerator and hoover up)
  • Have a light snack before bed. Note – a kebab isn’t a light snack.
  • If your OH snores – sod them right off into the shed.
  • No caffeine after six or at all.
  • Ease up on the gin or abstain altogether. Alcohol sends you to sleep alright but you’ll be up at 2am with a mouth drier than a popcorn fart.
  • Leave the electronics downstairs (except a radio)
  • Use that radio to listen to classical music (or Coldplay)

Night Bless and don’t let the sandman throw sand in your eyes!

Image Credit Eirik Newth via Creative Commons
Slipknot Image – Bill – via Creative Commons

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17 thoughts on “Chasing Sleep

  1. My mum’s an insomniac so I’ve got my fingers crossed I don’t follow suit. These are great tips though and I’m glad you got your 8 hours sleep! Wishing you sweet dreams tonight – may they be free of naked trips to public loos! xx

  2. Funnily enough, I am currently listening to Duran Duran! I’d add to the list a bit of meditation – takes a bit of practice and isn’t failsafe but it can be a way of decluttering your noggin. Hope you get a better night’s sleep soon xx #ThePrompt

    • Good taste in music, Leigh πŸ˜‰
      Meditation is a good idea… I used to do it years ago (visualisation meditation) but got out of the habit. Time to visit my little lagoon again I think. πŸ˜‰ Xx

  3. So glad you managed to get a couple of good nights sleep, it makes such a difference. Great post and really good advice. I have trouble staying asleep (some breathing techniques have helped me fall asleep better) and I’ve been trying things to help with that. Haven’t tried music… Broken sleep is a killer! I’ve been using my fit bit to track how restless/awake I am, and it’s way more often than the 90-minute sleep cycle 😦 I also have very vivid dreams, which I believe happen in lighter sleep periods, and these are often great fun, but make me feel tired the next day! Thank you so much for sharing with #ThePrompt x

    • Breathing really helps as one of the main problems with a panic attack is hyperventilation. I find that making sure I breathe from my stomach helps to calm things down. Despite my broken sleep, I know that when I do sleep – I have the anxiety dreams – which means I am not having deep sleep but I’m working on it. πŸ˜‰ X

  4. Loved this post. Your writing style makes me chuckle. I’m a dodgy sleeper because of pain meds – will have to check out this sleep mix. There’s a youtube vid on sleeping that is quite frankly infuriating but somehow it works. I’ve never made it past 10 mins before nodding off. I save it for really desperate times though because the guy irritates me so much! Let me know if you want the link and will dig it out. x

  5. Sorry to hear that your hormones get in the way of your Zzzz’s lovely, as you know I have a trio of sleep thieves in my house, and only getting a handful of hours kip is no joke! As always though you’ve brought a huge smile to my chops, love your posts. Coldplay are one of my all-time faves, to go to sleep to or not πŸ˜‰ xxx

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