I’m having trouble sleeping

_Chrysaora WM_6

I can't sleep well. On December 19th, 2013, at approximately 5pm, I ran out of sleep juice. I took a glorious nap. And that was that.

I woke up in that dazed, out of nowhere, confused state. The kind that has a warm, soothing feeling. You feel wrapped in comfort. You have NO idea where you are, but you are happy that you woke up like that.

Pfffftttt sleep juice gone.

It's been what, 3 weeks? 3 weeks of blaming days-too long, pillows-not-plump-enough, not-my-bed and one-coffee-too-many.

“Ruth will sleep anywhere” has been a running joke for most of my life. For long road trips with my parents, I'd ask, “how long?” and for more than 1 hour, I'd grab my pillow and my bunny (bear with me, I was under 10) and off I went to the land of Z, until I was poked awake by my folks. I once fell asleep standing up, leaning against a wall. I must have been bored.

During my teens, being woken up for Sunday lunch at around 1.30pm was the norm.

And more hilariously, I'd sleep through anything. My hometown, Valencia, is notorious for fireworks. We don't just throw one. We have 19 days dedicated to them – Fallas. Google it. During this period, eardrum-shattering fireworks go off ALL day and ALL night. I…. can't really say it bothered me much.

I will sleep through anything, given the right conditions. A school morning, my mother opened up the door to my room to say “come on, it's time to gooooo” and she let out a massive shriek. As she stood on the doorway I turned to look at why she was frozen at the entrance to my room. Turns out, my carefully-curated 500 cd collection, ordered by preferences inside the perfect cd-rack, on a shelf, had taken the best out of the wall and fell down, all over my room. There was a chunk of wall missing, a lot of dust on the floor, and a sense of panic that my fave rare-edition German imports would be damaged by it. Hint = when a wall falls down all over your room, it's likely they are damaged.


In University dorms, sleep seems ilusive. Too much noise, fun, drinking and opposite-(or same, whatever floats your boat)-sex action to sleep, no? Nah. Ruth sleeps through anything, anywhere. A bunch of us went to Dublin, where we spend 72h drinking heavily and not sleeping…. except I took my zzz's on any bus that we were on.

Brian and I had a flat with windows towards a major A-road in London. Think I didn't sleep? I will sleep anywhere!

Which is why, 5 years ago, having moved from Busy London to Sleepy Sussex and finding myself awake in the middle of the night, I knew there was trouble brewing. I saw someone to help out, who ran me through a series of exercises. From quiet activity at night (dinner, quiet tv-watching, some reading on a non-backlit screen, maybe warm milk?) to meditation, visualizations, turning off all lit-up alarm clocks in the room, not allowing myself to look at the time when I woke up…. it didn't quite help. I was prescribed some sleeping pills but after the first gave me some wicked dream in which I was holding a duck who would not stop flapping its wings at my face, I gave up on the medication-aid and somehow, it all went away. I managed to sleep again.

2013 has been a bit of a Beeyotch. Work has been too busy and the end of the year saw me struggling to make everything happen as I found myself frozen and unable to help a friend through grief, being overwhelmed by deadlines and going through some personal stuff in my household that is not to be discussed (yet). Of course, being SO wise, I decided that burying myself in MORE work was the correct approach, because obviously, I wasn't busy enough.

I'm smart like that.

We ended the year with a massive his&hers family Christmas get-together that saw me and Brian sleep in 3 different rooms at his parents house, none of them allowing me to rest. If Sussex is Sleepy, Yorkshire is…. Basically the haze you are in when you wake up from A Big Nap. There are HORSES and SHEEP next door. How come I couldn't sleep??

So far, I've tried a different pillow configuration, my bed again, only having one morning coffee and running on peppermint infusions for warm drinks… It's still not happening. My visualization is white. When I am trying to fall asleep, my mind thinks “white” – a white bed, soft as a cloud. A white set of sheets, wrapping me warm. When it works, I can just about see myself in my mind, drifting to sleep. But it's not working.

Next week, Brian is taking me away to a luxury cottage in the middle of some county that I don't know the location of. Apparently we will have a fireplace. There's a spa. And woods. And that was his Christmas present to me. The following week may just be one of the most challenging ever, and I want to enjoy the British countryside with him. I just hope I can sleep enough to be enjoyable company, because at the moment… it's 7am and I've been awake for 3h. The last time I looked at the clock it was 1.27am.