Here I am !

I’ve not been around for a while – not that I’ve been sleeping particularly well but I’ve been in a state of dismay (minor depression) having to live with family for 6 months because our new build flat was delayed!  The nights when I haven’t slept, I’ve been sitting on a cold leather sofa, whiling the hours away while  my husband snored away merrily in our room upstairs. My angst hasn’t been conducive to writing insightful and interesting blogs hence my lack of verbiage. Having moved out of our house for what we thought was going to be just a couple of months last August, in the September my brother died unexpectedly.   Most of what I felt at that time is difficult to put into words. We finally moved into our new home on February 24th, when we’d originally been advised completion would be the previous August!    I’ve digressed.

I have been taking Sominex with mixed results.  I’ve found that it was helpful in giving me a good night’s sleep when I first started using it but, as time went by, my system obviously got used to it and was less efficacious.  When I felt I needed a good night’s sleep I had no option but to take a Zopiclone which, at least, meant I would sleep for 7 or more hours.

Now that we’ve moved into our new flat, whilst I’m feeling much happier about being in our own home and our own beds, I’ve still found myself sleeping for an hour then waking and being awake for the next 2 or 3 hours!  My circadian rhythm must be in medieval mode since I’ve read that it was common for people to get up in the early hours and consume a first breakfast, go to bed then get up hours later to consume their 2nd breakfast (presumably  the time when a modern day breakfast would be anticipated).

It was quite interesting, therefore, to read the Times’ article Yes, Your Sleep Schedule Is Making You Sick.  I don’t consider that I have a mental illness however, you could argue that what I have experienced over the past 6 months, and the stress I have gone through, probably does signify a degree of mental instability.  I felt I had lost control of my life through no fault of my own. It’s a part of my life that I’m glad is over and I’m keen not to dwell on the negativity that it caused me and move on to the happy situation that we are now in. It concerns me that I’m still experiencing poor sleep patterns now that we’re feeling settled.  Is it my age?  Is it my time of life? Margaret Thatcher famously only slept 2 or 3 hours a night in spite of her demanding role as Prime Minister.  I know that there have been times in my life when I’ve not felt that I was getting job satisfaction or just wasn’t as active, mentally and physically, which contributed to my poor sleep.  Time alone will tell if my sleep pattern will continue as it has been for the last  few years.

 

 

 

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Night Terrors

Hello,

Sorry that it’s been a while since my last post.  That’s not to say I’ve been sleeping well because, in all honesty, I’ve had some really awful nights!  Back in July in my last blog which mentioned about the sleep tracking capability of my Fitbit, I was averaging 6 ½ hours’ sleep during the course of that week.  The following weeks’ records run thus:-

5 hrs 33;  6 hrs 15;  6 hrs 7; 7 hrs 12; 6 hrs 27; 5 hrs 29;  7 hrs 19; and finally last week 6 hrs 38.

Between my last blog and tonight, I’m averaging 6 hours which, on balance isn’t too bad until you look at the individual nights per week when it looks a lot worse.  Take last week’s average sleep of 6 hours and 38 minutes doesn’t sound that terrible.  Taken night by night it’s a totally different story!

Starting 22 Aug it pans out like this:  4 hrs 16; 2 hrs 57; 4 hrs 51; 4 hrs 34; 3 hrs 59; 8 hrs 23; and 7 hrs 32, tonight doesn’t count!

Now I have to be honest here in that I don’t believe the step count on the fitbit is wholly accurate, it’s recording movements of my wrist when I’m whisking or stirring food as steps but can’t record steps when my hands are pushing a shopping trolley.  So, on the whole, I’d say it’s giving me a fair indication of my sleep (and it also recognises the one sleep I had during the daytime, too!)

Now I should just take some time to explain that my home circumstances have changed. Having sold our house in May, we moved out of our house on 15th August.  No that sounds good but actually, it’s not.  Our new build flat isn’t now going to be ready until October (if even then!) and we’re staying with family in the meantime.  This means sharing a double bed as our two electric beds are in storage along with all the other worldly possessions we don’t need on a day-to-day  basis.  That’s bad enough, although the double bed is a pocket sprung memory foam mattress.  

The fly in the ointment is the niece who has opted to come and stay at Daddy’s house with her 2 children and we’ve been decanted out of “our” room for the night.  This happened last week, too!  The “sofa bed” was as hard as concrete and I ended attempting to sleep on the settee.  Tonight’s a repeat with the difference that because I  said I couldn’t sleep on the sofa bed, brother-in-law has borrowed an air bed, quite a posh one which was comfortable.  Well, that was until the other half starts talking in his sleep and tossing and turning – then the bed was just like a trampoline and impossible to sleep on.  Hence why I’m now sitting here in the darkened living room typing this.  My duvet is on the settee where I attempted to settle but, when you take into account it is leather, it’s not the easiest thing to lay on! 

I’m not too hot and bothered about all this at the moment but I really don’t see how I can go on like this and I’m praying that the developer gets his, and his builders’ arses into gear so that we can complete and move into our flat sooner rather than later!  It’s not looking too promising though.  Last time we drove past the scaffolding and green netting were still up all around the building and some of the flats didn’t yet have windows installed!  When I visited 3 weeks ago to take my daugher to view our flat, the flat is almost ready for occupation with the exception of an access panel in the kitchen which hasn’t been put into place and the en-suite bathroom is just a room with nothing inside apart from cabling and dangling hoses, not even walls on which to tile!  I’ve honestly tried to be up-beat about it but we’re one of 79 flats in the block who’ve been waiting patiently to move into our new homes!  Whilst the estate agent assures me that half of them were bought by people who intend to let them and the rest are mainly newly-weds currently living with parents – even those purchasers must want to take possession of their properties at an early date?!   Sorry, I didn’t mean for this to be a rant but you can now understand why I don’t sleep too well at nights.  With a husband who’s in perpetual motion in his sleep and talkative, too, plus the worry of the house move – it’s enough to make your hair curl – except mine’s curly already!

 

 

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Fit-bit’s sleep tracking – a long day’s journey into night!

I’ve been using a Fit-bit since February 2016 and realised how useful its’ sleep tracking could be when I started using it, more our of curiosity, in March.

Now, as is patently obvious if you’re reading this blog, I already knew my sleep pattern was less than perfect.  I suspect my sleep deficit goes back more years than I can remember!  

It became apparent that my best sleep was when I’d taken a sleeping tablet or when I was cream crackered!  After I broke my wrist at the end of February, I was using codeine phosphate or solpadol morning and night.  I put getting some good nights’ sleep down to the codeine phosphate but then, given the anguish and agony I’d been experiencing and double strength Ibruprofen or paracetamol administered to get me though each day, possibly also a combination of medications and exhaustion!

Going back to the fit-bit and its’ sleep tracking – I can’t say just how accurate this might be but I’ve been pretty impressed.  Firstly, it doesn’t have a heart rate monitor so it’s going just by the movements of my arm throughout the night. Looking back over the records, my sleep pattern is anything from a couple of hours to the rare 8 hours, typically with 2 periods of wakefulness – something like 14 times restless and approx a half hour of being awake/restless.

My typical sleep pattern is an hour’s sleep, a period of 3 or more hours’ wakefulness and then a return to bed with a final 3 or so hours’ disturbed sleep.  My sleep pattern is made more complicated because my husband who, in some respects sleeps soundly, isn’t aware that he slaps his thigh or chest and talks (sometimes long conversations or even arguments with someone) in his sleep . So there are occasions when I’ve returned to bed to sleep only to find that his ‘animated sleep’ (he also turns around and sleeps the wrong way round on the bed, too!) keeps me awake at a time when I’m desperately tired!  To add insult to injury, the thigh-slapping – which is quite loud – doesn’t wake HIM because HE’s hard of hearing!  Invariably I retaliate by thwacking HIM on the thigh which wakes him momentarily and he’ll ask me why I hit him?!

Friday night, having endured a night previously where I slept poorly due to all of the above, he offered to sleep on the settee so that I could get a good night’s sle
ep!  Screenshot_20160702-162130

The result was that, although I had difficulty getting to sleep (which as I’ve mentioned,  is not uncommon for me) I slept from 3.15am to 9.38 am, 0 times awake, 2 times restless and 4 minutes awake/restless!

This might not sound momentous but just compare the sleep patterns in the screenshot from my Fitbit sleep chart and compare the quality of sleep on Friday to those of the previous 4 days (bottom upwards).

Friday’s reading was exceptional in having such a long period of uninterrupted sleep!  I have no doubt that the quality of sleep was much better compared to nights where it would appear that I slept for longer but experienced disturbed sleep.

There is no quick fix for me in this regard.  Sleeping downstairs on the settee is certainly not the way forward for either of us.  

However there may be a light at the end of the tunnel!  We’ve sold our house and are purchasing a ‘new build’ two bedroom apartment.  This will give me a 2nd bedroom for which I’ve already chosen a trundle bed that will satisfy my need to sleep in peace and quiet and also be for when visitors (make that ‘the granddaughters’!) come to stay!.  

The fly in the ointment is that the development was meant to be ready in August but has been put back to October (we’re quietly hoping that October is the worst case scenario and that we can move in some weeks prior).  However, there appears to be nothing we can do in this regard and the developer could, we have been told, very well put back our moving in to November, or even December!

I’ve never worked in the construction industry but I have worked on projects where timescales are all important and I have to say that, if I worked on a project that was so far behind, there would be a lot of noise being made, questions asked, jobs on the line and/or getting more staff in to speed up completion.  

We’ve been advised that, because it’s a new build, the developer can effectively take as long as it needs and that the “it will be ready to move in to in August” was a guesstimate; and that there’s no regulation on keeping to the “promise for the completion date” and no regulatory board to complain to who might actually ‘kick ass’.  The developer has had a meeting with the building contractor to ask questions, I was told, but we’re about to exchange contracts, i.e., purchase aka own, a property that we won’t be able to live in for however long it takes!   

Moving home, one of the most stressful times in your life – what an understatement!

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Another day, another hospital

Plagued with hospitals!  Northwick Park for my wrist as I previously wrote about.  In December last year I asked my GP for a referral to see a consultant about my bunions. Annoyingly, the outpatients’ appointments and surgery is now all handled at Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton, even though this hospital is linked with Northwick Park Hospital which is much nearer (hence easier to get to).

The appointment with the consultant seems eons ago and he agreed he could re-align one big toe and I opted to get the right one done.  Lo and behold – the paperwork for the pre-assessment arrived after I’d broken my wrist. Of course, I don’t want to put off my foot operation so I turned up to the pre-assessment last week hoping they weren’t going to turn round and say that my wrist was a hindrance and they wouldn’t be able to go ahead.  The nurse asked how I’d cope with crutches. Frankly, the consultant had at no point mentioned being on crutches post-operatively, purely saying that I’d be in a surgical boot to go home as I would be operated on as a day case.   Thankfully, I’m not going to have to wield a crutch on my good arm – don’t even think that would work as that’s my right hand and arm!

I did go to bed, honest!  I have to be up about 6.15am because I’m meant to arrive at ACAD unit for 7.30 and Stuart’s going to drive me there.  However, just like most other nights, my wrist just won’t let me settle.

Last night, according to my FitBit (which I have no reason to doubt) I slept from 3.44am to 10.35am (but that was only because I’d ended up taking a sleepin pill – otherwise I’d have probably not slept at all!).

It appears that I’m averaging 6 hours sleep a night but, when  you bear in mind that, for at least 3 weeks running there was one night each week where I only managed 1 hour’s sleep, I’m not doing that well!

don't go to bed!

 

 

 

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Ode to Insomnia

Night time blackness has descended,
evening’s entertainment now has ended.
Gentlefolk go to their rest, for gentle dreams is their quest.
Yet whilst all the nation‘s sleeping,
The poor insomniac is weeping.
Why can’t I even doze?” It seems that no-one knows.
Helen Dashwood 01/04/16
insomnia word cloud
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Not my usual insomniac anecdotes, I’m afraid!

Apologies for not having been around in the last week.

Last Saturday night (27/02/16) I fell and broke my wrist in a poorly lit street in Harrow (on the way to an evening meal that I never got!). I endured an hour’s wait in the freezing cold (laying on the cold pavement because I couldnt get up by myself!) for an ambulance, and taken to NPH where it was manipulated and plastered over, under a stong anaesthetic! Then on Monday, surgery to apply a metal plate, pinning the bones together and another cast!

I’m not a doddering old woman! I’m an agile, always on the go, 61 year old who still has to work to live and pay bills and my work involves lots of walking and dealing with the public!

I abhor this trying to type one-handed, as I’m a touch-typist with 100 WPM typing ability so life, all around, is really getting me down at the moment!

I have the prospect of six weeks in this cast, followed by further weeks of physio so I apologise if I come across as sounding somewhat annoyed, but I am, by the limitatons placed on me through no fault of my own.

Yes, I have the pain killers – Naproxen and Co-codamol – my life revolves around their ability to ease my pain and how to endure 20 hours of daytime – unable to do all the things I’m used to doing without a second thought.

I have my Kindle. How do I get ebooks from Harrow library when I don’t remember the logins and can hardly type? TV consists in fly-on-the wall programmes (24 hours in A&E? I think not!), soaps that I never watch, or horror, betting, porn and shopping channels ! Netflix is great if I can scroll through the horror and chic-flics to find something I could actually enjoy.

To sum up, thanks to those who offered “hang in there it’s going to get better” and the many “Aw poor you, I feel your pain” – no, actually, you don’t “I DO”.

Apologies to any reader here, this text was written with social media at the forefront. I suspect my sleep pattern will be the same as it was pre-accident!

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Simple ‘4-7-8’ breathing trick can induce sleep in 60 seconds?

This article got posted on Facebook presumably because of the cookies that have logged what does, and doesn’t, interest me.  Naturally it attracted my attention. Here’s the answer to my prayers?  Or is it?

Induce sleep in 60 seconds? Well, actually, NO!

It’s a deep-breathing technique and you have to practice for quite a bit before you gain any direct benefit.

Dr Weil, founder of the Arizona Centre for Intergrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, claims a simple alteration to normal breathing could be the answer. “This comes from yoga and in yoga breathing you have to keep the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth,” he said.  “You breathe in through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully through your mouth making a whoosh sound. It takes all of about 30 seconds so there is no excuse for not doing it.  It produces a very pleasant altered state of consciousness. You may not get that the first time you do it but it’s one of the benefits of practicing.”

The trick is holding the breath for four seconds, breathing out then holding for seven seconds. After that exhale completely for a count of eight. The steps are then repeated between two and four times.

Dr Weil says it works because it allows the lungs to become fully charged with air, allowing more oxygen into the body, which promotes a state of calm.

You have to do this two times a day religiously. It will become a wonderful way to help you fall asleep. You can do it more often throughout the day” added Dr Weil.

It is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.”  “After about four to six weeks you will see wonderful changes in your body.”

If I remember to do these, I’ll let you know how I got on but (excuse the pun) don’t hold your breath!

 

Read the full article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11585755/Simple-4-7-8-breathing-trick-can-induce-sleep-in-60-seconds.html

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Sleep aids

Just kidding

Yes, here I am again in spite of having taken a Melatonin  I’ve gone back to taking them for the last week and a bit, after having gone into Boots to purchase Sleepeaze where the assistant asked me if I used Sleepeaze regularly?

“No, only occasionally” I lied.

“Oh, that’s ok then because they’ve been linked with the onset of dementia for people who take Sleepeaze regularly.”  Suitably chastened, I left the shop with my purchase and stored them away at home with the other tablets I take regularly.

So I felt it might be prudent to lay off the diphenhydramine for a little bit and do some research.  The sensible thing to do was to take a Melatonin each night (that’s what I had been taking for some months before felt that I’d got used to it – hence the reason why I switched!) and I certainly did enjoy a couple of good nights sleep last week.

Having bought a month’s supply of Sleepeaze, however, I HAD to do the research to see if what I had been told was bona fide (not that I had any reason to doubt but what the heck!).

Drugs.com came up with a reference to Sleep-Eze-3’s Side Effects (presuming it’s the same just the American equivalent, since it’s also diphenhydramine) which quotes:

Delirium has been reported in elderly patients with mild dementia following a small oral dose of diphenhydramine

Mmmm, ok!  Yet NHS Choices doesn’t report this, it merely tells us:

If you take this medicine repeatedly or for long periods of time, you may find it may not be as effective in helping you sleep as you develop a tolerance towards its effects.

Well, I knew that!  My last port of call (admittedly it should’ve been my first but I seldom do anything in a logical fashion) was Boots’ own website about Sleepeaze.

I noticed the

Warning: may cause drowsiness. If affected, do not drive or operate machinery. Avoid alcoholic drink.

Isn’t the whole idea to take them precisely to promote sleep?  So drowsiness is an expected outcome and I certainly wouldn’t have taken a Sleepeaze tablet before going out in the dead of night to drive to a supermarket or use my lawnmower!

Needless to say the Boots.co.uk information about this product says nothing about the risk of dementia.  Frankly, we all have a risk of  dementia – the medical profession has yet to find the reason why some people get it and others don’t.

I’m currently of the opinion that my body quickly builds up a tolerance to both Sleepeaze and Melatonin hence prolonged use doesn’t mean I get to enjoy a regular sleep pattern. The solution for me is going to have to be a couple of  days using and a couple of days not, to see if I benefit from short-term use.  If I’m honest, brutally honest, I’m just not tiring myself out during the day.  Having a sedentary job doesn’t help either.  Nor does the fact that I come back from Harrow Light rehearsals (am-dram) and I’m on such a high that sleep is impossible – that’s in spite of having endured energetic 2 hour rehearsals!

The one redeeming part about being awake on a Saturday night is I don’t have work tomorrow so I’m not going to be sitting here, looking at the clock every 5 minutes thinking “I really should get to bed, I’ve got work in 6 hours’ time!”

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Get Out of Bed and Keep Your Hands Busy If You Wake Up at Night

Hello there!

It’s actually just before 8pm so this is my only post (to date) not generated in the small hours!  The only reason for this is that I wanted to share the following Mashable link

http://lifehacker.com/get-out-of-bed-and-keep-your-hands-busy-if-you-wake-up-1691276793?utm_campaign=socialflow_lifehacker_facebook&utm_source=lifehacker_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

which highlights the main reason where I’m going wrong!  Instead of coming down, making a nice cup of tea and opening my laptop so I can type a further entry in this blog,  it advises “Go do something relaxing for ten minutes—that doesn’t involve the TV or computer but occupies your body and brain”.  Not quite sure what the ‘something relaxing that takes only 10 minutes’ could be aside from reading a book or listening to music, maybe but I’m pretty sure I’d get engrossed in either of those and be a lot longer than ten minutes sitting on my sofa!

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Not my week…! :(

Yes, this is me.  Seems to happen aBrain fatigue lot.

I had a headcold. Yes, that’s natural as it’s Winter.  I took my Echinacea – thankfully I found one box in my Holland and Barrett otherwise I have to  order online and cough up postage – thought it had worked its’ magic.

No, it hand’t! A week ago, I came home from Jekyll & Hyde rehearsal having realised that I shouldn’t really have gone because I came home rather worse for wear and feeling hoarse.  On the Saturday morning (today a week ago!) I woke with a temperature, a throat like a Saharan desert and with a rasp attached inside my gullet!

On Monday I could hardly talk, let alone go to work and told my boss, who’d seen me suffering on the Friday that I’d probably be in on Wednesday!

How wrong can you be?  Thursday Stuart called in the GP who prescribed a huge dose of antibiotics and now here I am, a whole week later, the cough has all but gone but I’m weary.  When you factor in that I haven’t been eating (well nothing Saturday or Sunday). For the other days, Tuesday I snacked on a few crackers with cream cheese; on Wednesday I had a hanckering for olives and demolished a small jar of almond-stuffed olives; Rachel made me a small  jacket potato with sour cream on Thursday for lunch and she made us mac and cheese and I ate a couple of mouthfuls.  Today I ate a Belvita and snacked on a punnet of  olive and rosemary bruschetta from my Graze box.

So I got it into my head that I’d like pea soup.  Back in the 1960s I can remember having Batchelors green pea soup which I loved.  Some years later I discovered Heinz mushroom soup and that was it mushroom soup please, Mum!  Pea soup isn’t that easy to come by now, it seems to have lost favour, here in the UK anyway, you can get pea with something else but not pea soup. I’d bought a bag of frozen peas a few months ago when I found a simple recipe which I’d saved to my Google drive. Mmmmmm, that’s what I’ll do!

Ha! Not quite so simple as Stuart had started the bag and it was 7/8 full.  OK still enough to make a small quantity. The menu called for frying over onions, throwing your peas in the pan and adding stock, mint and seasonings.  I went a little further and added to my soup a couple of teaspoons of chia seeds, dried mint, dried basil and turmeric (apparently extremely good for you!).  My pressure cooker is a high dome one and the soup didn’t even quarter fill that but, I tell you what, it made a damned good soup once I’d whizzed it up (not quite finely enough but there you go!).

My next mission is to try and make a version of the really nice chunky mushroom soup that we once had in France.  None of your tinned cream of tomato, this was a real home-made chunky soup that Rachel and I went wild over. Think I’ve found a recipe for that so, who knows, maybe my next post will be to advise on the success of that, too!

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