Dog-blog about Insomnia
Looking back, I can see that I have suffered – if that is the right word- from insomnia since childhood.
I remember lying awake on summer nights, watching the squirrels in the trees. In the winter, I kept myself amused with a torch and a luminous Christmas decoration. And even before I learned to read, books were my companion then as now.
The trouble with night wakefulness, I have found, is that it always bothered those around me more than it bothered me. Parents on discovering a wakeful child are ever cross. I soon learned to avoid retribution by pretending to be asleep and making sure nobody discovered that I was not only awake but also occupied. Nighttime activities must be conducted in secret and leave no evidence. Adults assume you are awake on purpose – so stealth in all things is paramount.
Even now, in middle age, I am secretive about my night meanderings. This is probably due to a big old residue of childhood guilt and also because I fear the inevitable list of cures. Nowadays, sleeplessness is a thing to be dreaded. It is bad for the health. People will regale me with remedies. Sleep hygiene and blackout blinds. Herbal teas, eating (or not) before bed. Soft music, sounds of nature and silken eye masks. But here’s the thing. What if you don’t really mind?
When I left home, one revelation of my rented room was that when I woke (usually around 2 am), I could switch on the light and have a read. Make myself a drink. Do a spot of tidying up, even. No one was there to admonish me. And instead of feeling slightly guilty, I began to enjoy this peaceful night-time quiet. I could stand by the window and watch the moon or sit in a chair and just – think.
When I was a bit older, I worked for a few years on cruise liners. This meant sharing a cabin, and I was once again back in the situation of not wanting to disturb the all-night sleepers. I would grab a blanket and climb to the top deck, find myself a deckchair and watch the stars.
Years later, my husband decided that sharing a room was a bad idea. Lying next to someone who is fast asleep is miserable. In my own room,
I don’t have the worry of disturbing him, which is a huge plus.
Whilst I’ve never really been troubled by my insomnia, it is just one of those things. It can get lonely and a bit frustrating if you know you have a busy day ahead and no chance to sneak a nap to get back the lost hour (or two). A cruel trick of insomnia is I have no problem sleeping in the morning or for that matter, in the afternoon. Many is the time I have popped out to have a lunchtime kip in my car in order to function.
Recent events have taken a turn for the better. I have a dog now. Evie is a very sweet and affectionate whippet.
If you are familiar with the breed, you know that whippets are extremely fond of cuddles and keeping warm. Suffice to say, Evie sleeps in my bed. Now, when I wake, Evie will quickly sense this. If she is not already clamped onto me, she will shuffle closer and rest her head on me. I may reach for my kindle or just lie there enjoying the strange peace that a dog who loves you can bring. And the funny thing is, just having her near sends me back to sleep. Who knew?
I have yet to read a sleep guide that recommends a whippet. In my experience, they are just the job.
Right, come on, Evie, I fancy an early night!
Pictured a quick sketch I made of Evie on the beach.