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Sleeping like a ......kitten

Back in June, another furry friend moved in. Oscar. Oscar is not a kitten, but a near 7 year old lurcher. Oscar has separation anxiety and doesn't really switch off. He's often up at night, pacing about making sure everything is ok and that foxes or the like cannot get in the house. (He also does the same during the day with pigeons). During the evening when the other two are sleeping, Oscar is appearing too, but the drop of a pin would awaken him at full pelt launching at the window to scare away whatever maybe lurking outside. Why mention this? After a while I realised I'd adopted the dog version of myself. I'd been on red-alert for a while and would wake at the drop of the pin and be awake for the rest of the night. I actually woke up one night and walked round our house looking for the landline phone which I was convinced was ringing as there was an emergency (it wasn't, there wasn't, it was my overactive mind)

Sleep still evades me. BUT I am trying lots of different things, like layers, one on top of each other to help. I have done a practice around being in bed and nodding off and did say I would write about what helped me..... Darkness and quietness I took to wearing an eye mask and ear plugs. Our bedroom looks out to a streetlight and my OH snores.... loudly. The eye mask gets abandoned or forgotten, but the ear plugs really help. Not the silicone ones you mould with your fingers - they just get stuck in your hair and aren't great for the planet - I use ones that I can sleep on my side with and use forever. Sleep Apps mmmm...... I got one that recorded myself during the night as I thought it may gave me some secret hidden knowledge to solve my problem. I learnt I fart ....... a lot during the night...... Sleep Courses I embarked on a six week sleep behaviour course, and I have to say this helped me no end. Sleep hygiene, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), sleep diaries, etc. Learnt a lot, didn't crack it completely, but got me towards 6 hours! The main driver during the course was sleep restriction - restricting the amount of time you are in bed so that your body relearns that bed is for sleep and you can gradually lengthen this time. I could not do this. I tried but my suggest bedtime of 11pm was too late and I regularly fell asleep on the sofa, but everything else was brilliant

Getting up Awake longer than 15 mins? Get up, go somewhere quiet in the house, dim lighting, read a book till sleepy, then go back to bed. Not for me - I just wake up more.

Drugs! Prescribed sleeping tablets, over the counter sleeping aids, natural/herbal alternatives...

I've tried most of the them. Nytol became my best friend, till I found out Boots did their own label one which was cheaper. Now I only try to use something like this once in a blue moon, when things are really dire. After a while, the body becomes used to something like Nytol and it stops working. Natural/herbal alternatives can take the edge of the worry of not sleeping as well as make you feel sleepy. Trial and error. Magnesium has been good for me. I use magnesium salts in a bath (part of my sleep hygiene/routine) and take a supplement. With all of the above, please do talk to your doctor or at least a pharmacist; you dont' want to take any form of medication which may interact with some medication your are already on. For example, 5HTP is often discussed as a sleep aid, but cannot be taken with certain medications. Meditation and breathing exercises I often listen to a guided meditation to nod off too. However my problem has been waking up (2.30, 3.30 or 4.30) and not being able to return to sleep. These have all helped along the way, apart from the time I learnt the script and decided to analyse it in my head. Now I often chant in my mind when I can't sleep. Acceptance Menopause and grief are, I believe, the two things which have affected my sleep. The tidal wave of ever changing hormones, combined with losing Dad created a perfect storm of emotions, of which I still working out. When I said to myself, "this is how it is at the moment, it will change." it took a little pressure off. Sometimes we go to bed, worrying about how long we will sleep and this makes it worse. Napping Oh controversial. The books and the sleep course all say don't do it, but I have napped for 15 mins and felt good enough to get through the rest of the day without forgetting which foot I should be on in sun salutation. I slept for 10 mins the other day, woke up with the dog thinking it was Sunday morning and how did they get upstairs. It was Friday, 12.15pm and I was on the sofa. I don't nap after 2.30pm....

Caffeine Talking of cut off points, bin as much caffeine as you can and see if it helps. I'm now down to 1 tea and 1 coffee in the morning, the rest is decaf (get a decent one) or herbal. Similar thing with booze - very rarely drink, as I found cutting out alcohol has helped. I can't say one thing that really worked as I am constantly trying things together, but the layering of things has helped. I've also made changes to my diet - upping my pro/pre biotics to increase serotonin (which helps you sleep); being outside for 30 mins a day to help my circadian rhythm; some form of exercise for 30 mins a day (I try to walk the dogs and combine the two latter ones). Research what works for you. I couldn't do sleep restriction, but I could do ear plugs, less caffeine, etc. We are all different so different things will work for us. Let me know if this is helpful and if you've any questions, always ask. I'm not a sleep expert, but I'm an expert on not sleeping. And why sleeping kittens....... in my experience, babies don't sleep as much as my cat!

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What a helpful piece this is Tina! I can identify with all of it….

Although for me, menopause was a while ago, I can still have nights like you describe!!

There is a kind of panic that sets in that (for me) stems back to having babies and the sleepless nights and having to get up and cope with a busy day as well as be on form for work!! I could have done with some of your strategies back then. Thank you for sharing xxxx

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