How are you sleeping?

I’m tired, exhausted, so I go to bed early, 11pm maybe or just this side of mid-night. I wrap myself up in my duvet. Five minutes later I throw it off, I’m too hot. I turn over, pummel the pillows. Ten minutes later I’m parched, need a drink to wet my lips. Then a few minutes later I’m off to the bathroom. I get back into bed.

An hour later, a niggle from my hip reminds me not to lie on that side. I roll over. Thirty minutes later my shoulder objects. I shuffle round till I find a place that appeases all my aches and pains – at least for a while.

I hear a noise. I’m wide awake in my lonely bed. Have I locked the doors, all the windows?

My logic tells me it’s nothing of importance, but the depth and the loneliness of the night makes my head skew from the mundane to the major, to the memories of what was and the thoughts of what may be. And the longer I lie there, the worse it gets. Sleep moves further and further out of reach.

Enough was enough. I decided that instead of chasing elusive sleep, I would reclaim that time, make it mine. I keep a journal beside my bed. I write down my restless thoughts, what I have done today, what I plan on doing tomorrow. I write a terrible poem, or the start of a masterpiece I will work on tomorrow.  

The night for me is a good time to write about those very personal things that you may not feel so comfortable writing about in the full light of day. The sun can give a harsh unforgiving critique, throwing everything into strong relief, dark shadows or bright highlights.

The light of the moon is softer, more generous. It sees without judgment, not pointing out your weaknesses but soothing them into context. It is a good time to look at your reality, to assess your life without the fear of others watching.

The dark moon will soon be with us, that time when we have reached the end of the previous moon cycle. The moon is positioned between the earth and the sun, with its bright side facing away from earth, leaving none of its face visible to us down here.

It feels like a pause, a respite. We could use this as a respite for us too. In this busy world of ours, we rarely stop and rest before starting something new. How about recording the memories that you’ve made this moon cycle? The successes, no matter how small. The challenges, and ideas of how you can deal with them. Be honest, admit the frustrations and the irritations. If we are going to have random thoughts that keep us awake, let’s take control of them, make them work for us.

And no matter how bad life feels in the middle of the night, remember the moon is always shining, it’s just that sometimes we can’t see the light.

I find the interesting thing about sleep is that when you stop chasing it, it stops running.

Written by Portland Jones, PF Disabilities Liaison for West Midlands