I used to sleep well. I would fall into bed at night, and the next thing I would know, morning had come. I would bound out of bed, ready to start my day.
It’s a different story nowadays. No matter how early or late I retire, even if I’m nodding by the TV, as soon as my head hits the pillow my eyes spring open and my brain goes into overdrive. It takes me hours to get to sleep, and the longer it takes the more stressed I become. Any sleep I get is in short catnaps. I spend the entire night squinting at the clock and calculating how much sleep I’m not getting. I toss and turn so much I have to get up and straighten the bedclothes constantly. I wake for the final time ages before the alarm goes off, and when I get out of bed I feel muzzy and worn out. I’m ready for my bed again before the day has even begun, but unfortunately I have to get up and go to work.
I’ve tried warm milky drinks, herbal teas, lavender in my pillowcase, more old wives’ remedies than there are old wives. I’ve counted more sheep than a calculator could cope with. One night I tried reading until I fell asleep, but I didn’t fall asleep and the next thing I knew it was time to get up. I’ve had sleeping pills from the doctor but they don’t seem to make any difference either.
What on earth is wrong with me? Why can’t I switch off and fall asleep the way I used to? I don’t have money worries. I don’t have a guilty conscience. I don’t have anything in particular on my mind, but it’s as though I have a squirrel on a treadmill inside my head. An overactive squirrel on a mission to get fit. Round and round he goes, clocking up the miles in my brain. And the things that come to mind while I’m trying to get to sleep! Why, the other night I invented a device to help folk with walking sticks avoid leaving them in shops. And I don’t even know anyone with a walking stick, let alone have one myself!
I keep a notebook on my bedside table to note down all my useful ideas. There’s nothing more frustrating than being left with a glimmer of an idea the next day. As well as coming up with useful inventions, I think of things I meant to ask people, letters I should write, what colour to paint the sitting room, all manner of things.
It has often been said that Margaret Thatcher used to make do with four hours’ sleep a night. How I envy the former Prime Minister! I could possibly get by on four hours, but at the moment I barely scrape two.
I find it difficult to concentrate at work. Yesterday I processed the same order three times over. I told my boss I had a headache, but sooner or later she’s bound to notice all the other mistakes I’m making. What am I going to say?
I’m a desperate woman. I can’t remember the last time I fell asleep long enough to dream. They say it’s bad for your mental health not to dream. Before long I’ll be ready for the funny farm. I wouldn’t mind if I had a nightmare, honest. Any dream will do!
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015