Saturday is usually my ‘chores’ day. As there is only me in the house it is easy enough to keep it clean and tidy during the week and, quite honestly, I can’t be bothered running around doing errands or household chores after being at work all day. I’d rather go home, walk and feed the dogs, have dinner and then relax by doing a bit of reading or sketching or catching up on the telly . . .
So last Saturday was no different. I was up early and into it. Mabel, Maude I went for a long early morning walk (Molly doesn’t ‘do’ mornings) and when we came back I put the washing on, hoovered and dusted, clipped Molly, mowed the lawns, swept the paths and weeded the garden (at least until I decided I was fighting a losing battle and went and had a cup of tea instead). Then I walked the dogs again (honestly they have no idea what a good mother I am to them) and even managed to watch an old movie and get some sketching in. It was a productive day and by the time I went to bed on Saturday night I was pooped, and ready for a good sleep.
And I did fall asleep, almost immediately.
But then I woke up again. 12.45am. Had a noise woken me up? Not likely—the dogs were all still fast asleep (Molly snoring happily as usual). Did I have a weird dream? Not that I recalled. Did I need to go to the bathroom? Not really—but I got up and went anyway, just in case.
Then I climbed back into into bed, settled myself comfortably and closed my eyes.
And I lay there . . . and lay there . . . and lay there. Staring at the ceiling. And then I heard the cuckoo-bird. Do you know it is impossible to ‘unhear’ a cuckoo once you have heard it? Their call just continues to drill unceasingly into your brain. So I rolled over and pulled the covers over my head (Mabel grumbled at me) . . . but then I got too hot and threw the covers back (another doggie grumble). I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to clear my mind. I even distinctly remember saying to myself ‘don’t think about anything . . . don’t think about anything . . . don’t think about anything . . . ‘. Sigh. Too late.
Have you ever actually listened to the crap that goes on inside your head when you are wide awake in the middle of the night? Okay. I’ll rephrase that (I shouldn’t just assume that because there is crap in my head that there is also crap in yours). What I meant to say was—have you ever really paid attention to the thoughts and notions that run around and around and around in your brain when all you want to do is switch off and sleep? It’s weird, stream-of-consciousness stuff, with no seeming rhyme or reason.
Lorelai Gilmore knew—’My brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish. I’m writing a letter, I can’t write a letter, why can’t I write a letter? I’m wearing a green dress, I wish I was wearing my blue dress, my blue dress is at the cleaners. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue, ‘Casablanca’ is such a good movie. Casablanca, the White House, Bush. Why don’t I drive a hybrid car? I should really drive a hybrid car. I should really take my bicycle to work. Bicycle, unicycle, unitard. Hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey, monkey, underpants!’
Once upon a time I used to sleep really well. Seven or eight hours of (uninterrupted) sleep was the norm. Alas, no longer. I know that our sleep patterns change as we get older (menopause has a lot to answer for) but knowing that doesn’t always help. I already follow most of the ‘recommendations’ that are out there. I get up at the same time every morning (even weekends and holidays) and usually go to bed around the same time at night. I exercise regularly. I avoid caffeine and (sigh) alcohol in the evenings. I don’t use the computer in the evening either (I learned very early on that if I write in the evenings I will inevitably wake up in the wee small hours ‘editing’ what I had written earlier). I even keep a notebook by the bed in case I wake up thinking ‘OMG I have to remember to do that . . . ‘ so I can jot it down, thereby (supposedly) allowing my overwrought brain the peace of mind it needs to get right back to sleep. (Yeah, right.)
In desperation in the past I have even tried deep breathing techniques. Deep breath in for four, hold, breathe out. Breathe in for four, hold, breathe out. This generally only succeeded in me focusing so much on the counting that I either mucked up my number sequences or completely forgot to breathe at all (which was not entirely helpful). It also usually brought at least one of the dogs over to delicately lay a cold wet nose upon my cheek, curious as to why Mum was breathing so funny . . .
Anyway, long story short, I hardly slept at all that night. I was still clock-watching at 2.00am . . . 2.30am . . 3.00am. At 4.00am I gave in. I got up, dressed and took Maudie out for a (very) early morning walk. (Mabel was still grumpy about me disturbing her sleep and refused to go with us.) Maudie and I actually had a very lovely walk. It was cool and calm and quiet—but that doesn’t mean I want to be up and out walking quite that early every morning.
So I don’t know what the answer is—maybe there is no answer. Maybe this is just the way it is now and I should stop whining about it. Just suck it up and deal with it.
Although, you know, legend has it that if you can’t sleep it means that you are awake in someone else’s dream. Mmmmmm.
You know, if you all could stop dreaming about me . . . just for a little while . . . that might be really helpful . . . 🙂