Sleep

Deep, restful healing slumber is one of those things that persistently eludes me, like a massive lottery win…

It started when I was a baby – my mother told me I had trouble sleeping, so my father used to stick the carrycot in the back of the car and spend hours driving around, trying to get me to sleep. My uneasy relationship continued when I was a little girl. I suffered from night terrors, possibly not helped by the fact that the house we lived in at the time was supposedly haunted. The blood pounding in your ears when you lay down was, to me, the footsteps of giants coming up the stairs. I was never one for sleeping in my parents’ bed either, despite the fact it can help soothe a child to sleep. I was always too hot, too restless, tucked between my parents, wanting the cat, wanting to be awake so I would know what was coming to get me… My own bed, my cat and a large stuffed black panther called Bagheera, helped me achieve some semblance of night time peace; but even then, I remained a prey to nightmares.

Sleep (1)Doesn’t she look peaceful?

The blessing of older siblings…my sister insisted I watch television with her. She’s ten years older than me and obviously when we were younger, our viewing tastes were very different. I wanted to watch “Lassie”, my sister wanted “The Birds.” I still have nightmares now about the scene where Tippi Hedren stumbles across a room full of birds, perching, watching, waiting, then attacking. Sharp pointed beaks and clawed feet dragging at her hair and scratching at her face… My dream remains the same after all these years, even though I’ve never watched the film again. I’m a child, kneeling in front of a door, desperately trying to push the prying beaks back through as they puncture the wood.

My cats have helped. As I go to sleep, I usually like to have a hand on who ever is my sleep guardian that night, knowing that their warm furry presence will stay with me as I wrestle with trolls, run away from shadowy threats and look, always endlessly looking for I don’t know what.

Sleep (3)Ammonite (millions year old fossilised sea snail) under your pillow is supposed to aid restful slumber…

Drowning. That’s another good one. I don’t really watch films that involve boats or the sea. “Titanic” haunted my dreams for months, trapped beneath the weight of water, gently filling my lungs and suffocating, suffocating, as I beat my fists against the surface of sleep.

I love the preparation for sleep. Clean pyjamas, clean hair, freshly brushed teeth and then slipping between the sheets of my bed – my one indulgence, I love good quality bed linen – soft, fresh pillows and blissful darkness. And then it begins. The impossible itch that chases the nerves around my body. The sheets heat up and turn into snake demons that wrap themselves around me and trap my feet. My pillows turn over and attempt to smother me. Finally I wake up, hands clenched, heart pounding, eyes streaming from yet another dream where I’m running down endless corridors trying to escape from nameless terrors.

Sleep (4)A Selenite palmstone – serene, peaceful, perfect for helping you sleep…

I’ve tried everything. Cool, dark room, no tea before bedtime, no television, milky drink, reading myself to sleep, nice music playing, complete darkness, herbal remedies, sleeping tablets, lavender oil, Howlite, Selenite, Ammonite. These crystals are said to pave the way into restful, calming sleep. No such luck. Even as a student, drinking my way into unconsciousness only guaranteed that I would wake up half an hour later, parched and headachey, grumpy from dreams of wandering through deserts populated only by psychedelic cacti…

Having children made it worse…up every twenty minutes to poke them as they slept, alert to every movement and change in breathing, envious of their complete and utter relaxation into sleep. I envy the cats’ ability to fall so completely into slumber, on the back of the sofa, curled up in the garden, on the newspaper…a smile of satisfaction curving their furry jaws as they enjoy their dreams and wake up relaxed, instead of taut and pinging like an elastic band pulled to full stretch.

SleepHowlite is particularly good for insomnia…

Occasionally I am granted six hours of sleep, as complete as if I’ve been knocked over the head with a brick. The world is bright and clear cut, I am relaxed and calm, able to deal with anything the day throws my way. Then it’s back to bed. The blood starts pounding in my ears, are those footsteps coming up the stairs? The sheets turn into bear traps, tethering my ankles so I can’t run from the terrors that haunt my nights.

Nothing has happened to me. I can’t claim any traumas that would disturb my sleep patterns, I have no justifiable excuse. I just can’t sleep. And my partner snores.

All photos were taken by my son!

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17 thoughts on “Sleep

  1. So sorry to read this. I am not an expert and I don’t know whether you have consultet a nutritionist to see whether any foods trigger this. I know some people have a dreamcatcher in the bedroom and say this helps them sleep peacefully. Hope you can get some help with this and sending you wags and love 💜🐾🐾

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I freaked out over the same scene in the Birds. I’ve always had bad sleep patterns but mine are related to other factors. I don’t like to take sleep medication but I do keep it on hand for those times when I feel so sleep deprived that I’m desperate for a good night’s sleep.

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  3. Nothing prescribed really seems to work for me, plus the fact they leave me sort of “zombified” and I don’t like not having the mental sharpness…a friend gave me some satvia/oatgrass drops (think that’s what they’re called) and I didn’t rate them but the cats tried to steal them! Apparently satvia is a relative of catnip…

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  4. I’m not an expert, but you might want to consider that you don’t have insomnia, and that’s why insomnia treatments don’t work for you. What you describe sounds like night terror/sleep terror to me, and that’s something entirely different.

    Being treated for insomnia when you don’t have it will fail over and over and over again, because insomnia isn’t just “the can’t-sleeps.” It’s a cluster of specific conditions, and if you don’t have one of them, the treatments for them, allopathic or alternative, aren’t going to work. I went through ten years of being treated for insomnia — and being made miserable by the treatments, most of which made my condition worse rather than better — before I was finally correctly diagnosed as having delayed sleep-phase disorder, which is not a form of insomnia at all. My life got a lot better very quickly after that. I can’t recommend strongly enough talking to a specialist not just in insomnia, but in sleep disorders on the larger scale.

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  5. Dear Samantha, have you thought to make change in your bedroom… maybe feng shui can help your sleeping problem… and also have a little lavander bag on your pillow… the smell will be helpful too…. and another thing about magnetic field… I am sure you can find more info about them.
    https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/06/how-to-sleep-better/

    But cats are amazing… I sleep with my cat too, hand to hand… sometimes she doesn’t come to the bed… wandering in the house and watching the night outside the window…

    As always beautiful written piece and amazing photographs. Thank you, love, nia

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  6. My son has already feng shuied my bedroom, he knows more about that than I do…thank you for the link, interesting possibilites. I shall investigate further, everyone has been so kind and helpful with their suggestions. As always,Nia, thank you for reading and commenting, have a lovely day x

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  7. I’m sorry I don’t have any answers or suggestions, but this happens to my boyfriend too so it may be more of a common problem than it seems! I saw someone wrote about food triggering this and that may be good to look into because it seems diet is being held accountable for a lot of our problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I understand what you are going through. I haven’t been able to have a restful sleep in ages. I wake up multiple times during the night and wake up feeling like i have only just shut my eyes. Im sorry i don`t have an suggestions but, i hope you manage to rest better soon 🙂 You are not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. I enjoyed reading your past. It was so frank and honest. Fibromyalgia can wreak havoc on your sleeping pattern and what will work for some will not for others.
        I’m always hear for a chat or a vent if you need it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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