Counting sheep

I’m not very good at sleeping. Sleep for me is a delicate web, I have to pick my way around it very carefully lest I break a thread. A night out clubbing or a change in time zone can screw me up for weeks. Heaven knows how I’m going to cope with night feeds when the time comes (oh wait, I’m going to move to SE Asia and hire nannies).

Insomnia comes in two flavours – sleep onset and sleep maintenance. As the names suggest, the former is when it takes you aaaaages to get the sleep, the latter is when you fall asleep easily but keep waking up.

As a teenager I suffered from both and would stay up until three reading and writing, and then needlessly get up at six for school. When you’re 16 though three hours’ sleep a night is plenty, and then once I went to university I kept such erratic hours that the concept of insomnia had no meaning.

One moving to London the shock of doing a real day’s work knocked it out of me for a bit and these days I suffer sporadically, mostly from sleep maintenance insomnia. The crazy thing is that I’m perfectly happy with this situation.

Sleep onset drives me mad. I hate lying there for hour upon hour getting increasingly anxious and frustrated. All I can usually think about is the clock carrying me inexorably on to the horrible point where I have to get up without having slept.

Sleep maintenance is different though. Some nights I wake up every hour for 20 minutes, which is quite tiring, but usually I don’t wake until about four. This means I have a good five hours’ sleep under my belt so I don’t get stressy about being tired the next day, I just get to lie in bed enjoying being the only person in my world.

Much as I did when I stayed up writing as a kid, I tell myself stories (and write blog entries) except now I do it all in my head. I snuggle down into my big bed (oh so comfortable) and enjoy the quiet and the fact that I don’t have to move for hours, and it makes me really calm and happy. Weird huh?


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