_My forever battle with sleep.

I haven't written anything in nearly 5 weeks. I guess I lost sight of why I started this blog. Someone recently asked me if I write for me or for others to see it. When I started this blog it was absolutely for me, the fact that people actually read some of my pieces and shared them was a complete bonus. It helped me process my thoughts. So here I am writing again. 


Today I want to talk about Sleep.
Sleep and myself have had a rather tumultuous relationship over the years. One night it will make me feel safe, warm and cozy. Another night it will tease me with the potential of a great night and then doesn't quite reach it's climax, and then another night it will completely ignore my need for it and leave me feeling completely unsatisfied.  
Sleep. It recharges our batteries. It helps us stay healthy. It eases the mind. So why do I find it so difficult?
I am a morning person (bet you've never heard an Actor say that). When I'm "resting" and not doing 8 shows a week I honestly wonder how I stayed up past 10pm. Remembering when I used to leave The Queens Theatre after a show at Les Mis at 10.32pm and not getting home until 11.05pm and when I lived at home it would be past MIDNIGHT! Although I take myself to bed fairly early, The dreaded 3am wake up comes. The 3am wake up has been happening for a while, it's like my body screams "YOU'VE HAD ENOUGH!"
Insomnia - The Opening Paragraph
I used to have a 3am anxiety dream when I was at Drama school. I used to have to sit up in bed as I would imagine tutors to be in my room shouting at me for being asleep in class. It was like my bed had been transported into CM6 at Mountview. Any student from Mountview will understand why I call it "my anxiety dream." Sometimes in my sleepy haze, I would have to recite lines or talk to myself, reminding myself that it was 3am and this is all nonsense. Once I would go through the ritual of sitting up and reassuring myself that I was in my bedroom and in fact NOT at college, I was able to get back to sleep for 3 hours before my 6am wake up. A part of me still thinks certain teachers have been inside my bedroom, it's super creepy.

Come to think of it, maybe this comes from an old wake up technique my Dad used to use. When he was about to leave for work every morning when I was at school, he would SCREAM up the stairs "WAKE UP, MR/MRS SMITH IS HERE!" (name changed for purposes of this blog). Although I obviously never believed my headmaster had arrived at my house to escort me to school, maybe it manifested into my 3am nightmare. (I will add, this wake up technique was nearly as annoying as Dad turning my bedroom lights on at 7.30am). 

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During this weird lockdown period, sleep and I have had quite a battle. At first it started out ok. I was exhausted from a very busy start to 2020 (oh the irony of being busy) so my sleep pattern was not too bad, a standard midnight - 7.30am with maybe a few toilet breaks (I maybe need to decrease my water intake) Sorry if this is all TMI ha!
As lockdown progressed, my sleeping declined. 2, 3 hours a night. Couldn't get to sleep until 2, sometimes 3am but still waking up at 8am. I would find that my laziness and dozing would take me sometimes to midday and beyond. Now being a morning person, I couldn't quite compute how half my day had completely vanished and yet come 4pm, I still wanted an afternoon nap! I was being really hard on myself and feeling such a lack of motivation and drive. 

So I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me sleep during this lockdown period, it's definitely been a process. 
I know people say reading helps, but I have to be in the right mood to read and I need enough gas in the tank to get to the end of a chapter without losing concentration, otherwise I get frustrated that I haven't taken in any of the story, and it keeps me awake. (Again, the irony of reading keeping me awake. That's a perfectionist and control freak trait).
So, number 1, Skincare:
I have some skin remedies that really help me.
Neom - Scent to Sleep set (Gifted to me by my gorgeous friend Celinde)
Rodial CBD sleep drops
These products are designed to be soothing and increase a sense of relaxation. When applying either the sleep oil or the drops post cleanse, I always take a minute to focus on my breathing and inhale as I apply the product to my face, it helps me relax.
The Rodial CBD sleep drops are NOT to be orally consumed. It is a serum specifically designed to sooth and comfort the skin, so that you can wake up feeling fresh and hydrated. 


Number 2, Melatonin:
If worse comes to worst and I really can't sleep I occasionally will take a melatonin tablet. Unfortunately you can't get melatonin in the UK unless proscribed. In America and Asia, it's sold next to the vitamins, so I tend to stock up when I'm travelling. Melatonin tablets help the release of melatonin in the body to help you fall asleep faster, it helps to form a more normal sleep pattern. I would only take max 2 tablets in consecutive days as I am aware of becoming dependent and that's a strong NO from me. 
A piece of advice, when travelling, only take a tablet once the plane has taken off, otherwise, the drowsiness is REAL.
Number 3, "Get Sleepy Podcast."
The biggest revelation to my sleep has come in the past week. I mention my best friend Jessamy a lot in my blogs, why? you ask, because she literally has all the answers. She listens to me stress and then usually provides the perfect solution. This piece of advice definitely took some convincing, but since trying it, my sleep has VASTLY improved. In fact, I can't remember a time when I have slept this well.
She recommended I listen to the podcast "Get Sleepy." Now as I've said before, meditation and anything like that usually makes me want to throw things. I don't find it particularly helpful and if anything, it just makes me frustrated. But I thought I would give "Get Sleepy" a go, my sleep was getting so bad, I was game to try anything.
I also have now set my phone to night mode, so between the hours of 11pm and 7am, I am UNAVAILABLE! (trying to block out my 3am demon, maybe It's a monster like in Monsters Inc that comes into my room just to complete a job?) I did however wake up at 5am the other day, stupidly looked at my phone and replied to a message with a voice note, I sounded drunk and completely away with the fairies, come morning, I enjoyed laughing at myself slurring my words and forming sentences that made no sense. 
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Back to the podcast, "Get Sleepy" takes you through a few minutes of meditative breathing, but not too much meditation that it makes me want to scream. Then someone reads a very descriptive bed time story. I can't tell you what any of these stories are about because I'm conked out by about 15 mins in, so they clearly do their job.

Sleep is a weird one, especially right now. But it really does make all the difference to your mood and general well being. Don't be hard on yourself if there are nights that are restless, eventually your body will catch up.
This blog wasn't a particularly funny one (I wish it was) but I hope it helps someone at the moment with their sleep.
From one light and restless sleeper to another zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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