Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sleep Deprived

Is Gregg going to have a surprise when he gets home tonight. Nothing too exciting, just a big old black eye. No I am not going to give him one, I am going to show him mine.

It’s all to do with sleep deprivation. To give you a little background, my whole life I have gone through bouts of insomnia. This goes way back to my childhood. When I went to a doctor about it years ago she said “the habits we set as children can sometimes stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

I spent many nights as a child reading under my blanket way, way passed my bedtime. My Mother would say, “Denise, are you asleep?” If the reply was “Yes Mum!”, then my secret was out, the door would open and my Mother would gently remove the flashlight – or ‘torch’ as we call it in England – followed by, “Now Neesy, you should have been asleep hours ago.” The penny dropped after a while and I finally figured out that it might be a good idea to keep my mouth closed, shut the torch off quickly in case Mum opened the door, and put it back on again when I knew the coast was clear. That way I could finish that story I was so intent on reading. I had to get to the end, couldn’t leave our hero/heroin in such a pickle until I knew he/she was safe and living life happily ever after. (I always had a stack of books at the side of my bed, picked up from the local library where I used to stop on the way home from school. That pile of books always filled the basket on the front of my bike.)

Now, my question is, was I reading because I couldn’t get off to sleep in the first place, or was my reading into the wee hours setting those habits that stay with me to this day? I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, no more do I read into the wee hours but the bouts of insomnia return periodically and sometimes last for months.

When I finally am able to close my eyes and drift away, I fall into the deep, deep sleep that caused me to hear more often than not during waking hours, “When Denise falls into a deep sleep, Big Ben’s bong could sound off next to her head and she wouldn’t hear it.”

When I was still living in Devon before my sister married, we shared a bedroom. Her fiancé – my now brother-in-law – came down to visit her as he was still living in the Midlands, and we had moved south after Dad retired. I started locking the bedroom door, for privacy reasons you understand. He had to hang his clothes up in one of our closets and I was taking no chances. One night after I had gotten into my nightclothes and popped into bed I forgot to unlock the door. The next morning after walking into the kitchen, my family looking at me and shaking their heads, Dad rolling his eyes, followed by much laughter, they told me what had happened. "Don't you remember any of this?" "No!" was the astonished reply, as more laughter ensued.

The sequence of events was as follows: Sister tries to open the door and finds it locked. Sister bangs on the door and shouts for me to unlock the door. Bangs several times more, to no avail and she woke my Dad up with all the banging. Dad now bangs on door with my sister behind him. He bangs even louder, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG AND BANG but by this time I had gotten into that deep sleep. Imagine all lights going on in the village, the echoes going through that small valley were and yes I'm embellishing that part. No neighbors were hurt during this true-life experience. Dad and very tired himself after a hard day's work, is getting a wee bit cranky and apparently adds a kick to the door along with the banging, in the hopes that the added noise will wake me up, but by now I am in my deepest sleep. Sister remembers she left the small window open, so Dad decides to go out in his PJ’s – did I tell you it was in the middle of winter? – and opens up the garage where he stores the ladder.

We live in a bungalow but the back bedroom window is high enough off the ground that a ladder is needed. He unfastens the latch by reaching in the small window and chuntering and muntering as he walks passed my bed, THAT finally wakes me up and I say “What’s the matter Dad?” He just looks at me, rolls his eyes, tells me to go back to sleep and opens the bedroom door, lets my sister in at which I fall back to sleep. I think my sister showed great restraint not smacking me with a pillow, Dad too. Next morning however, I didn’t hear the last of it. I still locked the door on my brother-in-law’s visits but I made sure I unlocked it again before I went to sleep.

My latest sorry tale is once again to do with sleep deprivation. Ahhhh, the dreaded sleep deprivation where I become my own worst enemy. Gregg has learned during our married life that through insomnia and during sleep deprivation, things happen. Feet get tripped over, ankles get twisted, shin bones get dented, fingers get nicked with knives (remember the Batman Band-Aid caper? I really shouldn't have been cooking that day), and every conceivable object can get dropped. I have lost more crockery that way but I am happy to say Gregg wasn’t here this morning to witness the latest episode.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night even though I tried my best. When he left at six I was still awake but barely, and I finally fell into an exhausted sleep, interrupted at around 8.00 a.m. when I apparently rolled over only to find myself hurtling into space as I dropped like a rocket/plummetted off the bed, hitting my eyebrow on the corner of the night table with such a bang that it woke me up, all this as I continued to roll off the bed - boy that's a long drop down - to land on all fours like a doggy. Talk about a rude awakening. I was so startled I didn’t know where the heck I was or what had happened. Still groggy I called out for Gregg and looked across the bed to see if he was still asleep, but couldn’t at that point in time remember that he had left two hours earlier. I went downstairs very gingerly because at least I was awake by this time, at least enough to make sure I did not have any more catastrophic events between bedroom and bottom of stairs. I called out to him but there was complete silence and it was only then that I remembered him giving me a kiss as he said goodbye two hours previously.

By this time I realized I had a sore spot on my eyebrow and when I looked in the bathroom mirror there was quite a visible lump and a purplish looking bruise forming on my eye-lid. For the time being I won’t have to put any eye shadow on that side, so I had better remember to put some on the other so I won't have everyone telling me that I must have been half asleep this morning because I only made half my face up. I certainly wouldn't want to freak anyone out as I know the thing is going to turn from that lovely shade of purple to the yukky shade of brown. And then I had this picture of my Mum, Dad and Sister looking at me, arms akimbo, shaking their heads and my Dad rolling his eyes and saying, “You’re still at it even after all these years then aren’t you? Oh Neesy, what are we going to do with you?” and that made me smile. Now when Gregg gets back, what a story I have to tell him. He’ll be surprised and concerned, and then we’ll have a chuckle at the silliness of it, and then I’ll get the talking too. “You really need to get more sleep My Love. Try to get more sleep!” and there lies the rub!


  1. Oh Denise, that made me smile though I hope you're not feeling quite so sore now. My bouts of disturbed sleep are for mostly different reasons . . . usually cramp together with dogs who've decided they need to go out in the small hours.
    I hope Gregg is giving you lots of TLC and that you have better repose this evening!

  2. Oh my heavens, Denise. That's all very scary. What an incredible post. I remember Art telling me once that when he was on a trip with his friend many decades ago, how he didn't wake up when the hotel next to his burned down. His friend said fire engines were blaring and it was a huge deal and Art slept through it. I would have been up like a shot.

    I have a hard time getting to sleep and read to fall asleep also but I'm not a deep sleeper.... I think.

  3. You were such a naughty Girl Denise.{:)

  4. I was always the last one to bed around here and the first one up. Not anymore. I'm still usually the last one to bed/sleep, but I certainly don't get up as early as Abe.

    Thank goodness I never had too many times when I couldn't fall asleep. If I did, all I had to do was either get a boring book and start to read it, or turn on the TV to some station that was really boring.

    I no loner lie awake with so many things running through my head that need to be done the next day. Then again, perhaps it's because the kids are all grown and I don't have them to worry about. But I must say, I sleep really good. I do find if I know I have a doctor's appointment the next morning and it's an appointment I don't particularly want to keep, I find it harder to fall asleep.

    Hope you get caught up on your sleep.

  5. Maybe you should have a side-rail on your bed. ;) At least your injury wasn't any worse than a nasty bump. And you have a good sense of humor about it. Sorry you're having trouble sleeping-- I can empathize. The pictures in this post are sooo cute!

  6. I thought I was the only one who read all night! Flashlight batteries must have been made of better stuff back then eh?! Or else my folks just never figured out where they all went to!

    There have been more times than not in my married life when Dirt has said good night to me and notice I was starting a new book. In the morning he would say goodbye to me and note that I was pretty much on the last pages! It is amazing how fast you can read when no one needs you for anything for eight hours!

    I used to be able to do really well with no sleep. I was always the camp counselor they called when they knew that there were going to be some girls that needed special watching. But not right now. Now I get plain disoriented and goofy if I miss a night's sleep.

    I loved the story today!

  7. I used to have problems both falling to sleep and getting a good night sleep, suffering from mild Sleep Apnea, a friend of mine told me about the LiveWave Silent Night patches, it worked wonders for me, I like it because nothing goes into my body and I sleep through the night without any problems.

  8. Oh dear! That was a funny story about locking your bedroom door on your sister!

    Sorry you have a black eye today.

  9. Hi Denise, I have enjoyed reading this. I hope it did not hurt that badly. Very funny about your half eye make up. These days, I only have at least 5 hours of sleep straight but awaken by my second alarm clock, my Kitty. It is always sweet to reminisce. Talking about those were the days, my SWF post is dedicated to you to reminisce your SoCal days. Now I will head on to your SW post.

  10. Hope the bruise is healing well.
    Interesting about forming habits. I'm a night owl by choice. Like you I used to read a lot. My Dad would often come home after his midnight shift and find me reading. I always had to finish the chapter I was on and sometimes he had to tell me twice. :)
    Must have set myself up years ago!

  11. Ooooh, painful! I hope it feels better soon. I can sympathise, although my current huge bruise is on my behind! It's now a very fetching shade of purpley green!

  12. That's a funny story, although I doubt insomnia is funny. I am lucky in that I sleep well most nights but when I was working I would often wake at 2:00am and not be able to go back to sleep until 6:00 when it was time to get up for work.
    Hope your eye isn't too painful and Gregg is understanding. You could make up an exotic story.

  13. What a great story teller you are, Denise! I was as deep into your story as you are into your books and your sleeping :-) I always thought I was a deep sleeper, but you may have me beat! I'm glad you only got a black eye in your fall. Have you ever tried a sleep clinic to try to find the cause? I laughed about the flashlight under the cover...been there, done that! My reason wasn't that I couldn't sleep, but just that I didn't want to put my book down until I had finished it.