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Life Chez Dee Episode #33: Sleep

Those who know me will know how much sleep I need; it’s not just a lot of sleep, it’s a ridiculous amount of sleep; an enormous amount; and when I need to sleep, I sleep, I literally cannot keep my eyes open; my eyes close and I’m off. To be honest I think it borders on narcolepsy.

It doesn’t matter where I am; or what I’m doing; or whose company I’m in; when I’m exhausted, I go to sleep.

I’ve never had a problem sleeping, ever. I tell a lie, but I can only think of a couple of occasions that I’ve suffered with insomnia. I remember when I was carrying Edward, probably late on in the pregnancy, and I’d have to get up many a night and watch open university, back in the days when that was all you could get on TV in the early hours. I don’t even think that I made use of that time either, I don’t remember anything that I watched to this day, so that was a wasted lack of sleep learning opportunity. The only other time I haven’t slept was for a while after Edward died, and I just couldn’t sleep at all. Day after day after day, and just to function, I needed to have sleep enforced, with prescribed sleeping pills from the doctor.

As mum to three boys there have been numerous nights when I’ve been awake, or have been woken up … hours and hours spent cuddling, comforting, feeding, administering medicine, changing beds, chasing monsters etc I know I’m not the only mother who has gone through, and still goes through this, but I know that many people struggle with not being able to go back to sleep, whereas, I am, I think, very fortunate that I’ve always managed to slip back into bed and be off like a light again within seconds.

Seconds is all it ever takes for me to go to sleep. I can be talking or listening and drop off mid sentence; I can be writing on my laptop, and drop off mid sentence; I can be mid bedtime story even. I can be lying in bed, relaxing in a chair, or sitting upright, makes no difference … when tiredness comes, and my eyes close, I’m off. So normal is it for me to go out like a light, that I find it hard to comprehend how others can’t. I just can’t fathom why there is so much faffing by others … Justin, and William to name a couple who fit this brief.

It’s a standing joke in our house about how I can just drop off seconds. Everything we want to watch on TV is recorded, knowing that I will inevitably fall asleep and miss what we’d planned to watch, and I’ll have to either miss it completely or try and catch up at some point, which to be honest doesn’t really happen, since it’s no secret that I can’t work the TV either! I sit in an evening, I grab a blanket … I do like my blankets whether I’m cold or not … it’s a comfort thing, although it’s true that I am more often cold than not. I have blankets scattered all round the house, in various rooms, because they’re lovely, and because I need them there, just so they’re always in reach; and as soon as I reach for a blanket, and wrap it round me, Justin says “night then”, and I’m already on my way to the land of nod.

It’s still a joke that I’ve never managed to watch “Love Actually” on DVD. I was bought this years ago, one Christmas, and I’ve started to watch it several times, and never ever managed to get through it … maybe it just isn’t good enough to grip me. Films that don’t grip me are a sure fire way of sending me off to sleep … even if I go to the cinema to watch a film, if it doesn’t grip me, I’ll nod off. I think the only TV which has gripped me enough to not fall asleep in have been some of the subtitled Scandi dramas … The Bridge, The Killing, Borgen … which have all been absolutely superb .. in my opinion anyway, and superb enough for me not to fall asleep.

I must have been a sloth in a previous life, it can’t be normal to be this sleepy. I feel as though I’m extreme. Admittedly, I spend my days tearing around here and there, busy, busy, busy, doing work for the charity, dashing all over town, then dashing to drop or collect the boys, dashing to squeeze a supermarket shop, sorting out house stuff … and it doesn’t stop when the boys are home … making tea, taxiing the boys, meeting people, planning stuff, answering emails … but then as soon as everything is done, and I’m able to sit down, that’s when I drop. You may say that it’s obvious why I’m tired, it’s because I’m a busy mum, and of course that will definitely play a part, but it’s not entirely the reason, as I was just like this before I had kids. It’s just how I am; it’s just me!

I know I don’t really like motorway driving, and particularly not in bad weather, or at night. I don’t like it because it’s not that familiar to me; because I don’t really know where I’m going; but also because if I’m tired, my eyes WILL close; I WILL fall asleep; and it’s dangerous. Justin wouldn’t let me drive anyway, he wants us all to get to our destination alive! Justin can’t fall asleep unless he’s tired, and unless he’s in bed, it is physically impossible for him to fall asleep …. I, however, am the polar opposite; it is physically impossible for me to stay awake. So on long journeys, late journeys, journeys when I’m really tired … and of course journeys where I’ve no idea where I’m going (because you can add my sense of direction deficiency to my narcolepsy) Justin drives. And it’s perhaps as well Justin doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel given the amount of driving he has to do for work; and the fact that rather than chatting away in the passenger seat, if it’s late, or after a long day out, I’ll be asleep in the car next to him. One silver lining though is that it’s only a year until William can drive, so there’s another back up for Justin, and certainly back up for me.

Edward took after me with his ability to sleep … he took after me in so many ways … not his sporty side I might add … but most other ways. His energy, his drive, his ambition, his connecting with people, his ability to talk to many, his sense of pride, his sense of justice, his temperament, his honesty, his wearing his heart on his sleeve to bear his soul, his humour (some of it … not the really silly stuff … but the naughty humour definitely), and definitely his ability to sleep, to need lots of sleep, and drop off to sleep straight away.

The other boys, especially William, clearly take after Justin. William is so much like Justin in so many ways, he’s a thinker for a start, not so much a talker, a reader, very musical, great pianist, calm, humble, incredibly clever, incredibly articulate, very high achiever, able to adapt, able to work under pressure, and an inability to go to sleep unless tired, and unless in bed, and faff around getting to sleep.

I know when I’m going to fall asleep, my eyes close, and there’s a split second where my brain knows what will happen. I really should put myself to bed when I get that feeling. It’s only a brief moment of consciousness when I’d have that opportunity to do something about it. I know I’d get a better sleep if I just went to bed. But I don’t. I stay up, thinking I’ll be sociable, and keep Justin and William company, but I never do, because inevitably I’ll just fall asleep in a chair. I sometimes wake up, and get a second wind, do some emails, and writing, and pretty much always need a brew when I wake. Sometimes I wake hours later, sometimes in the early hours and everyone has gone to bed. I’ve been in such a deep sleep, that I don’t even hear them say goodnight and go to bed, and when I do eventually wake, I have to go up the stairs, feeling groggy, quick teeth brush and fall into bed where I drop off again within seconds.

I’ll never suffer from lack of sleep, as my body will take every opportunity there is to sneak that nap and rest time in … and I can only apologise to those who I fall asleep on; don’t take it personally, you haven’t bored me to death, my brain and body just choose sleep for me ALWAYS.

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