Life · Opinion · Personal

Living with an Insomniac

Awake is the new sleep

Sleep is for the weak, or so they say…

You know how most of us muddle through life, not giving a second thought to our daily to-ings and fro-ings, unaware that the things which have become normality to us are, in reality, quite  random and out of the ordinary?

I had two wake up calls recently (if you’ll pardon the unintended pun) which made me realise that my life is out-of-the ordinary.

The first was a conversation with my husband in which we calculated that we spend an average of 4 hours a week (if we’re lucky) actually asleep in the same bed.

The second was a moment ago, when I set an alarm clock for my husband so that he can be up in time for a meeting, only have my alarm tell me “Your alarm has been set to go off in 3 hours and 14 minutes”. And it struck me. That’s it. That is my Husbands whole nights sleep.

From what I’ve been told, he’s been like it since he was a baby. I’ve spoken to his Mum about it and she recalls many a night spent in Husband’s bedroom, trying desperately to wear him out, whilst feeling as though she needed matchsticks for her own eyelids.

And he’s tried to ‘cure’ it, he’s tried the sleeping tablets and many methods of turning his body clock around. But nothing seems to work. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen the look of desperation in his eyes when he’s been awake for 48 hours straight and his body just will not allow him to slip into that sweet, deep, uninterrupted sleep that he so desperately craves. I’ve seen the mental anguish it causes him, on days like today, when he needs to function but is only able to squeeze in 3 hours of sleep.

Three hours is a nap to most of us. I’ll admit it, I’m one of those lucky fuckers who could sleep on a washing line. I mean literally, I have fallen asleep, standing up on a busy, and bumpy, train in the past. Sleep has never eluded me in the way it does for Husband, and on some days, if Sausage has an afternoon nap, I’m lucky enough to supplement my 8 hour nightly sleep with a two or three hour nap of my own.

And it has other knock on effects too. Husband is lucky enough to have a job which means he can work around his sleeping pattern, or lack of, which means that he can do a job and spend plenty of time interacting and spending time with Sausage. But there are times when the three of us are like ships passing in the night. And I can’t imagine how that must feel, it would break my heart to miss out on time with Sausage because I was being held prisoner by my body.

The other issue is that people’s perceptions of insomnia can be totally warped. We have an agreement that if I answer Husband’s phone during the day while he’s asleep, I don’t let on that he’s in bed, because when a person sleeps during the day, it’s generally understood that they’re either a baby, an octogenarian or a lazy so-and-so. And Husband doesn’t fall into the first two, so he must be the latter, right? But how can you explain, no, he’s not lazy, he’s been awake since this time yesterday and his brain has finally decided that it will switch off for a little while.

Then, you’ve got the added annoyance of other people. During the day, Husband is fully accepting and understanding of the fact that we have a two-year-old, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep a two-year-old quiet. But, because we don’t live on a homestead in Alaska, we live in a busy suburb, there is and always will be, noise during the day. We thought we’d cracked it by switching bedrooms so that our room wasn’t at the front of the house, thus removing any car noise (and moving further away from the opposite neighbour who insists on having the loudest, bassiest music blaring every second he’s in the car, including the five minutes he takes to warm his car up on his drive in the mornings).

The trouble is, we’ve now come to the conclusion that our new bedroom is attatched to our next door neighbours utility room. And I wouldn’t mind so much, but we live in a detached house and their ‘utility room’ is a seemingly illegal extension which joins right up to the boundaries of our house. But you can’t ask people to be quiet, in their own homes, during the day, can you? And so, we plod on with our lives, unaware of the differences until something reminds us.

At the moment, I’m on a three night stretch of sleeping on my own. But it’s okay. If I’m not sharing a bed with my husband, then I mostly get to share a bed with a snoring, farting 60lb dog. But he does give great snuggles!

I’d love to hear about your ‘alternative lifestyles’, if anything, just to make myself feel a little better!

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