Saturday, 15 January 2022


 There was a time when I could sleep 9, 10 or even 12 hours without waking. It didn't matter what I had eaten, where I had been or what was happening around me.

I look back on my student years and am amazed that I could be in a class until 8pm, travel home, shower, eat and sleep with no real chance to wind down. Then again, I was so often so tired there was no need to transition from the activity of the day because the minute I could "turn off" I did.

These days I can wake to a dog who wants out of her crate, a son returned home from a night out, a storm, a not-really full bladder or any other thing (though I suspect I still sleep better than many)

It's hot and humid here at the moment. I have a little bedtime routine which has me moving around, putting dogs out, filling a water bottle etc so I go to bed around 11 after a little burst of activity, in shorts and a Bonds mens cotton singlet (no t-shirt, nightie or womens singlet is half as comfortable) The fan is turning slowly, the window is open and with just a sheet over me I can be cool enough to sleep. 

The last week or two I have been baffled by constantly waking around 4am and having great difficulty falling asleep again. I get up and check on Harry,  (I'm not as precious as most greyhound owners seem to be but I am very aware that he has thin skin, little fur and no insulating fat. He's also not really a complainer) then I lie awake wondering what it is that is keeping me awake.

For someone who is supposedly quite bright, this has been a very slow realisation: I finally figured out that by four I am starting to get cold!  not enough to think I'm cold but enough to keep me awake.

What wakes you up?



Practical Parsimony said...

Being cold, thinking I have to go to the bathroom, Tommy going so silently to the bathroom, the wind is blowing, a noise, being old, I don't know.

Red said...

I don't know what wakes me up but if I'm ever going to go back to sleep, I better visit the bathroom!

Haggerty said...

Waking up at 4 a.m. is wearisome but normal, Kylie.
I have a book by a psychiatrist who advises people with sleep problems.
Sleeping in one block/unit is recent for our species, coming in with industrial labour.
Our ancestors worked in fields, and slept in two or three blocks, for millions of years.

When I get the 4 a.m. wakeup, I open my eyes wide to see how awake I really am.
If I really feel woken up, I read a demanding book like science or history for 15 minutes.

If I am still sleepy, I lie on one side, close my eyes, and move my eyes from left to right, mimicking the reading process.
I do this for five minutes, stop, try again, pretending I have been reading for hours.
Reading, unlike television or YouTube, really does tire the brain.

The secret then is NOT to try to sleep, and NOT to worry about the day's problems.
Just tell yourself you are resting, imagine a place where you were happy, but NO thoughts.

It's a bit like the alarm going off too soon, when you are in deep sleep.
You never have to TRY to sleep again, you are just grateful you have an hour before rising.

Deep breathing also induces sleep.
Imagine you have been walking uphill, and at the top you wish you could go to sleep there and then. It is a delicious feeling.

How sad that many of us have sleepless hours in the middle of the night, then finally go off just when it is time to get up for work.


Cathy said...

I often wonder how many hours I’ve lain wondering if I need to go or will I just be able to drop off again.
Get up - go - sleep almost instantly
Then there’s the cold feet issue
Rustle around in the sheets trying to warm them up to no avail or get up find little slipper socks and drop off almost instantly.

I’ve found when the fan has been on I start off with covers (cellular blankets) pushed down, then when I wake feeling cool just pull one up rather than turn fan off….when a cool change comes through all blankets get pulled up!

Anne in the kitchen said...

I do not wake during the night unless the bathroom calls, but it calls regularly after 4 hours of sleep___without fail!

nick said...

I'm much the same, I usually wake between 4 and 5 am and seldom manage to fall asleep again. I make myself a cup of tea, read for a while, and hopefully have a short doze or two before I get up around 7 am.

kylie said...

I know how it feels!

Annoying, isn't it?

I usually can drop back to sleep but it's not easy when one is cold! I have read that we aren't really meant to sleep in an eight hour block but I haven't figured out the reason

kylie said...

I also tend to leave the fan on and pull a blanket up but I must admit to a tiny fantasy about a remote controlled fan :)

I have a dreadful habit of drinking my day's water allocation after dinner so you know what that means!

I usually go back to sleep even if I wake at 5.30 or 6!

Gary said...

I generally sleep for about 6 hours, but wake up around 4am. Don't know why. I can't go back to sleep because my mind just keeps racing. I would like just for once to be woken by the alarm I've set.

kylie said...

Gary, you've been quiet! I thought you left the blogging world.
I though early waking would make the early starts easier. The groundsman I know starts at 7 and travels from the other side of Sydney. I'm barely awake at 7!

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

Age related call of nature wakes me up twice every night. Other than that, I sleep well.

Ms Scarlet said...

I wake up at about 3.20am, drives me nuts, and then 5.20 - when it's hard not to get up, especially in Summer when it's light. It's led me to napping during the day, which I suppose enforces the cycle.
I put it down to ageing.

kylie said...

A good sleep makes everything easier!

Ms Scarlet,
"Hard not to get up" is language I dont understand :)
If only the trials of aging happened in our youth when we had energy to cope! someone should do a movie about that

Haggerty said...

Nabokov resented time wasted in sleep: the little death he called it.
President Lyndon B Johnson needed little bedtime, and hired a woman as his secretary who only slept for a few hours. LBJ felt a kinship with her.

There is a theory that women wake more easily than men, since their brains are programmed to hear a crying baby.
In my youth I read about a rich woman in Latin America who offered a considerable sum of money to anyone who could guarantee her an unbroken night's sleep.

Is insomnia inherited?
My mother suffered from it (never complaining) and said my father went to sleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
I sleep like my old man and feel for insomniacs.

There are many books about sleep (check Google).
*Top 10 books about insomnia* Marina Benjamin The Guardian online 2019.

My favourite:
*The Shapeless Unease - A Year of not Sleeping* by Samantha Harvey is full of wisdom and surprises.

I often dream I am asleep in other rooms, other houses.