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The Upsides of Not Sleeping

I like sleeping. I mean, I guess we all do, but I really like it. I love sinking into fresh…

I like sleeping.

I mean, I guess we all do, but I really like it. I love sinking into fresh sheets, all crisp and smelling glorious. I love curling into a ball under a heavy duvet when it’s cold out. I love the wonderful lethargy when it’s been a long day and your bed welcomes you just as you are, stiff and weary and a touch on the grumpy side.

There’s no judgement with beds, is there?

I’m not much of a one for sleep-ins, or even lie-ins (the Little Furry Muse makes sure of the first, and the need for repeated cups of tea takes care of the second even if I have nothing pressing to do), but I do love a good night’s sleep.

not sleeping, insomnia, creativity, writing,

I love you, bed.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good at it. I can have the best intentions of getting to bed on time – and sometimes even do – but then there are books. Or runaway thoughts. Or the sudden realisation that I haven’t taken the bins out/taken the washing out of the machine/locked the cat door/fed the sourdough (this is a new and interesting addition).

And, at the moment, I’m definitely having a run of being even worse at it than usual.

To be clear, I don’t have insomnia. I’ve had a couple of bouts of it over the years, including one memorable time in Florida when it got to the point that I was so exhausted I was scared to cross the road on my own. I was fairly convinced I’d either just stop and fall asleep in the middle of the crossing, or would cross at the wrong time and be squished by a giant SUV (there were a lot of those). That was hideous, and felt like it lasted forever, and I was very nearly convinced I’d never, ever sleep properly again.

If you suffer from insomnia, I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine dealing with that long-term.

not sleeping, insomnia, creativity, writing,

THEY WERE ALL AFTER ME.

What I currently have, in my run of bad nights, is a weird disregard for the actual hour and an overactive head. This means that even if I do go to bed at a decent time my body is utterly convinced it’s not ready to sleep. So I’ll read until I’m sure I’ll fall asleep the instant I put the book down, but instead find myself lying there three hours later wondering what sort of furry caterpillars can be found in rock gardens in Turkey.

No, I don’t know why, either. I wasn’t reading about rock gardens or Turkey. Or caterpillars, really, but I was reading Gerald Durrell, so that might be the wildlife connection.

This late-to-sleep-ness is usually compounded by the Little Furry Muse summoning me to fetch her breakfast at anywhere between 5 and 6 a.m., but this morning I woke up at 4 and instantly became fixated on the fact that I’d run out of garlic and was going to have to brave the shops if I wanted to cook anything worth eating this weekend.

No, I cannot cook without garlic. Don’t be ridiculous.

not sleeping, insomnia, creativity, writing,

And herbal tea doesn’t help. I’ve tried.

And, look. I’ll be shattered by this afternoon, but I did get to have my revenge by waking the Little Furry Muse.

Not as satisfying as I’d hoped, though.

Anyhow, this being a positive sort of blog and my wonky sleeping patterns not looking like going away any time soon, I decided to list all the good things about not sleeping.

Bear with me. I’m tired and this may or may not make sense.

not sleeping, insomnia, creativity, writing,

I mean, could you wake that?

Things to love about not sleeping:

1. Early mornings are awesome. Okay, I know not everyone will agree with me on this, but there’s something wonderful about being up before anyone else, while the curtains are still drawn all down the street and the day hasn’t decided what it’s going to be yet. There’s magic in a day so untouched and unseen by anyone other than the birds, the sheep, and you.

2. Early workouts mean you can take your time about them and actually do a proper stretch after a run or HIIT workout, rather than waving your hands at your toes then wandering off. Or you can actually do a full meditation after yoga rather than staring at the ceiling for half a minute then jumping up and switching the video off.

Wait – what d’you mean, other people stretch properly and do the meditation anyway?

3. Knowing you won’t sleep means not bothering to put your book down at a decent time, because you may as well just read until you drop it on your face. Or watch that extra episode on Netflix and then read. Why not, right?

4. All shopping can be done by 9 a.m., because you can be at the shop when it opens and so avoid the crowds that gather when sensible people have had time to get up and have breakfast. You can bumble around in a sleepy daze buying six unknown spices, an enormous wedge of cheese (in my defence, it was discounted) and nothing that was actually on your list, and be home again before anyone has a chance to breathe on you.

5. The cat really likes company at weird hours of the night. I mean, she probably gets lonely when I’m wasting all that time sleeping. And having a hot chocolate at one in the morning is wonderfully indulgent. I like it.

6. Anything can be blog post material. I mean, anything.

Look, if it makes sense to me at two in the morning, I’m sure it’ll … well. Okay. I’ll try to think of something better for next week.

not sleeping, insomnia, creativity, writing,

Her views are clear, even if her photo is not.

So, you know, I think I can put up with it until my body (and head) decide it’s time to sleep properly again. Plus I occasionally write really weird stories when I’m not sleeping, which can be entertaining. For me, at least.

Now tell me, lovely people – do you ever have trouble sleeping? Do you embrace it? How do you tackle it if not? Let me know below!

insomnia, mental health, not sleeping, selfcare, writer's life

  1. A.S. Akkalon says:

    I sleep like a log most of the time, but hubby has terrible trouble. He gets up and sits in a lounge chair when he can’t sleep, and I think HRF enjoys the company. Though I wouldn’t really know because I’m asleep.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      HRF probably accepts it as his due. I know that if I get up Layla just assumes that means she’s going to get an extra meal, scritches, and a cuddle on the sofa. Which sometimes even happens, as I’m generally not awake enough to realise it’s not actually time to feed her…

  2. Carolyn says:

    I am now used to a short night – 3 hours is about the norm – so I go with the flow. Early morning shopping is definitely a winner and the staff are usually still cheerful. I was most amused to find this recommendation pop into my inbox immediately after reading your blog You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats (https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00XBEXH5C/ref=pe_1284751_475258601_em_1p_2_lm)

    1. Kim Watt says:

      That is a VERY short night – I’d really struggle with that. Well done for learning to manage it! I’m generally okay unless I start getting under 5 hours regularly (they’re usually patchy hours, which doesn’t help). That’s when things get a bit wonky and I start making tea in cereal bowls and putting spinach in my tea… And I love that amazon recommendation! It sounds like the Little Furry Muse has some competition for life advice!

  3. Mike says:

    I agree with you on the garlic. If I’m winging it (which I do far too frequently) I’ll generally make something based on garlic, onion, tinned tomatoes and mushrooms. Occasionally, especially recently, I’ve had to do without one or more of the preceding list but not the garlic. A dish without garlic just isn’t worth eating.

    1. Carolyn says:

      Yesssssss. And Michel Roux agrees with you too

      1. Kim Watt says:

        There’s a lot you can do with garlic and tinned tomatoes. But I maintain there’s very little decent you can do without garlic…

  4. Joanne Altmanp says:

    I am caring for a very little kitten who is not even one week old so I sleep for two hours and then up for one. Yes, it’s tiring but it’s for the good so I don’t mind. I have insomnia anyhow so it’s gives me purpose ❤️

    1. Kim Watt says:

      That’s a tough schedule to keep to, but what a beautiful reason for it! I hope you’re still getting as much rest as you can – hugs to both you and the very small one!

  5. Lynda Dietz says:

    Boy, I’m missing a lot of blog posts these days! I’m not sure where my head is at. I’ve been having trouble sleeping as well, though not as bad as your situation. For whatever reason, my body doesn’t think it needs to get sleepy before 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. even though I keep setting my alarm to wake up by 9:30 in the effort to make myself tired for the following night. It’s really messing with how good (or not good) I feel midday, and I don’t feel motivated to do the outdoor things I typically enjoy.

    These are weird times we’re in.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      They really are weird times – I think missing a few blog posts is a small side effect! Trouble sleeping seems to be getting pretty common, from my (very casual and absolutely not scientific) observations. There’s a lot to process, both mentally and emotionally, and I think it may be some time before we can adjust to whatever the new equilibrium is going to be for each of us. Look after yourself – no operating heavy machinery! 😉 Sending you lots of wished for good sleeping soon.

    2. Mike Harvey says:

      You need an alarm to wake you up at 09:30? I’d call that late even in the depths of winter, this time of year I’m generally awake around 4 or 5 AM. Of course, that means I’m ready for bed again around 8 or 9 PM but I can live with that. It’s the days when I don’t want to get out of bed at all that annoy me.

      1. Kim Watt says:

        I think if you’re not even getting sleepy until 2 or 3 in the morning like Lynda, 9.30 probably feels very early indeed! I tend to be an early morning person, but I’m having the same problem of not being sleepy when I should at the moment. It makes for very short nights. Although, as you say, I’ll happily take them over the not wanting to get out of bed days. I don’t get them much these days, but I used to – I hope you don’t get too many. Look after yourself!

      2. Lynda Dietz says:

        Going to bed before midnight isn’t often an option for me. All households are different, even through seasons of life. When my children were small, I could get to sleep by midnight or 1 a.m. and be up at 6 a.m. for their needs, homeschooling, and regular life. Then years later when everyone was on a variety of work shifts, it benefitted our household to sleep later in the mornings since going to bed early was never able to happen. My bedtime is typically 1 a.m. now, but when I can’t fall asleep before 2, 3, or even 4 sometimes, I’m not about to deprive myself of sleep when I have the option of getting the rest I need.

        1. Kim Watt says:

          Getting the rest we need is always the most important bit – we’re all different regarding when and how we get it, but we all need it. You’re quite right regarding how things change, too. When I used to work on boats we’d do four hours on, four hours off when we were at sea. I never had any issues with sleeping in the middle of the day if I had the chance to – it was the only way to get the sleep I needed to be on top of things when I was on watch. Similarly, when I worked in gyms and wouldn’t finish until 11pm – which meant home around midnight and still winding down at one in the morning – if I could sleep until 10 the next day, I would! So it all just depends on what we’re doing and what our own personal sleep habits are. If we can embrace our own patterns, all the better. I find it very odd how not getting enough rest has somehow become a bit of a badge of honour. I’m a much nicer person with proper sleep!

          1. Lynda Dietz says:

            Lack of sleep can cause so many health issues, too! I’m amazed at how many things are tied to just not getting enough rest. One of our children required 16 hours of in-home nursing care per day, and for whatever reason, his doctor decided he was “staying too healthy” (uhh, because we worked hard at it) and cut our nursing hours in half. Because I needed the nurse there during the daytime hours (7–3), we worked out the remainder by having me stay up until about 4 or 4:30 a.m., at which point Tim would get up for the day to relieve me so I could sleep until the kids woke up at 9. He’d leave for work the moment the nurse arrived at 7 (which made him late, but his boss understood). He slept from 9 p.m. until I woke him. It was a pretty crazy time in our lives, and thankfully, our son’s next doctor added those eight hours back on the schedule after almost a year of us struggling through it. I was pregnant with our youngest at the time, and I often think that’s why she’s such a night owl.

            Yeah, sleep schedules are anything but typical in our household. I can totally relate to your four on, four off sea schedule.

          2. Kim Watt says:

            Ouch. That must have just been so incredibly tough – with a lot of worry on top of not sleeping, I imagine. You must have both been exhausted! What a hectic time – and how ridiculous for the doctor to think that was acceptable! I’m really glad you were able to get a more understanding doctor. You were basically being punished for looking after your son too well! I can’t see any way where keeping that sort of schedule up would’ve been sustainable, and especially not with another on the way.

            I don’t miss superyachts at all, but I do love ocean passages on small boats. I love the suspension of time – yes, you sleep in a very random manner, but because everything is shaped around the watch system, you still get enough. It’s fun doing them with my dad and his gf, as we’re very casual. We just go for as long as we’re feeling awake, then wake the next person when we get too sleepy. So sometimes we’re up a little longer, sometimes a little shorter if it’s been a rough night, but we all just accommodate each other. It’s nice.

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