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Thursday 17 August 2017

Anna Nolan: 'Sleep used to be my friend so why can't I beat my insomnia?'

Anna Nolan
Anna Nolan

"You have nothing sorted, you are not doing enough and it is all going to go tits up."

Those words, among other cutting, negative comments, were said to me, by me, the other morning at 4am.

I am going through a spate of insomnia at the moment and what goes through one's head in the darkness of the night, is pretty gruesome.

Seemingly 4am is the time where I am supposed to be in my deepest sleep, when my brain is sorting everything out by flying, falling, shooting or swimming.

At this time, my subconscious is meant to be wading through a slurry of stuff by making fun, scary, bizarre and bewildering dreams out of it all.

But instead, I am awake and the slurry is right there for the conscious me to see and feel.

So last Thursday, at 4am, I turned to my iPhone and brought up the notes section. I wrote down what I was thinking about.

I'm grabbing worry at 4am - but it's not the future state of the economy or global warming that is keeping me awake.

It's friends, relationships, work and someone who has annoyed me during the day. It's weight and fitness. It's insecurities.

It's a pain in the stomach that could be cancer (not the steak I ate too late). It's future plans and lack thereof.

It's deciding to walk, run, eat lettuce, cut out bread.

And then to top it all off. I throw in a good dollop of thoughts about death.

I've always been the best sleeper in the world.

I am the queen of napping and as a young child, my mother was used to me nipping upstairs to 'read a book'.

Instead, I would hop on to the bunk beds, throw the covers over me and sleep for an hour.

I could sleep on a bed of nails. I can sleep sitting up right. On planes and trains. On buses and in cars.

When I started working full time in TSB Bank in Edinburgh, I used to tell my colleagues after a big night out that I was going to the loo and would be back after 20 minutes.

I would go in, put down the lid, lean my head against the wall and nap. Not the best of sleeping places, but I would be as right as rain afterwards.

So there are two things that I find unsettling about my lack of sleep.

Firstly, that it is happening at all.

And secondly, realising that the most horrendous, critical and worrying of thoughts creep into your head at the ungodly hours.

To all the long-term insomniacs out there - I salute you, I pity you and I admire you.

I cannot imagine how you all get through that experience night after night, cos it ain't a nice place to be.

Give me a bed of nails any day.

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