ADGIFTED: Sleeping with the Enemy

ADGIFTED – this article mentions a gifted product courtesy of Silent Night. 

The saying goes that you don’t appreciate things until they’re gone and that’s something I can most definitely apply to sleeping alone. Why did I not see how wondrous it was to be able to spread myself in any haphazard position on the mattress? Why didn’t I see how awesome it was that I could decide what time to turn the TV on and off without considering someone else’s preference? Why wasn’t I grateful for being able to completely hog the duvet? 

Under the header of ‘the grass is greener’ I’d find myself thinking about the possible tenderness of late night and early morning snuggles. Perhaps reading the paper in bed in the morning. Being brought a Pinterest worthy millennial breakfast in bed. Ten years on these charming vignettes can only be found in the the saccharine rom-coms I still love to watch, and rarely make an appearance in my real life. Sure there might be a birthday breakfast delivery to the bed, but the paper thing was never going to happen because we don’t have a paper delivery, and Si radiates heat like a fresh out of the oven jacket potato so doesn’t really enjoy the process of meshing together to become a scribble of limbs and flesh. 

We started well. I say well, but that deduction could be just because my eyes were covered with rosy spectacles during that early honeymoon stage. But I think I slept well back when I would stay over at his Mum’s house, in his room decorated very much to ‘teen’ aesthetic – even with the large magenta Bjork canvas staring at me. Did he snore less then? Or was my mind better at ignoring it because you just want focus on the ‘lovely’ and ‘endearing’ observations at that new and exciting stage of a relationship. The only inconvenience I do remember is that my side of the bed was against the wall, so whenever I needed to go to the loo (which is a lot) I had to clamber over him to creep downstairs – hoping I didn’t mean his mum en route. But I did like that I could press myself against the coldness of the wallpaper whenever I overheated next to the human Carb.

My memories of Si first staying over my house are veiled with a complimentary mist too. I think I recall it fondly because he was the first of my boyfriends to be able to sleepover whenever he liked. It signalled a new phase in my life and one that made me feel closer to a ‘grown up’ despite living with my parents in my twenties. I guess for a while it had that novelty fun factor of a sleepover, with perk of it being with someone I liked in a romantic way.

At the early point in our relationship Si was in the busiest phase in his career with he band Young Guns. Sometimes they would be away for 3 months at a time, recording in New York, on Warped Tour or putting together an album in Thailand. Back then just the fact it was possible for us to share a bed was something to be grateful and excited for. So perhaps even if the inconvenience and compromise of sharing a bed was noted I may have found it easier to put aside. Maybe because I knew it’d only be for a few weeks until he was off on his travels again it felt more tolerable. 

A few years later you’re way over just keeping shtum about the things that grate on you, and they just spill out like an overfilled kettle. The flawed reality of your existence has already been revealed and you realise there’s no point pretending to be the person you did on those initial flirty conversations. You start being less accommodating and less accepting of those quirks and preferences that don’t align with yours. 

I’ve always found sleeping with the TV on really helpful. I know it goes against every sleep advice article you’ve ever read, but it’s always been instrumental in allowing me to fall asleep, and the timer function mean’s it’s not upping my electricity bill by staying on all night. My brain has a problem with shutting down at the end of the day. Darkness seems to signal it to go into analytical/overthinking mode. Not only does it want to give every word I uttered that day the once over, but also delves deep in to the vault of my mind to relive and attempt to rework every troublesome scenario from my life so far. Alongside bath time, it’s also when all my work idea’s seem to ruminate in the noggin too. By having on a TV show that I know so well I can recite the script off by heart, my brain seems to make the decision to be distracted enough that it’s not focused on my sleep hindering thoughts, but not enough that my brain feels it needs to focus and engage. 

I’ve written about Insomnia and sleep issues many times over my blogging life – an extract from one of my articles featured in this book by Arianna Huffington

For a while Si didn’t display or vocalise any issues with this particular sleep habit of mine,  but as we approached the ‘comfortable’ broken-in stage of our relationship he started to make it VERY clear that this wasn’t cool with him anymore. He said they he needed pitch-black to be able to sleep well and that the didn’t want low level/silent F.R.I.E.N.D.S in the bedroom with us. I compromised, that’s what you do right? I tried my hardest for a while. Then I started to feel aggravated because Si has always been able to fall asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, and it would always take me longer, which was fine when I had the TV for company, but now I just laying in still silence listening to the discordant symphony of his nasal passages.

So as time went on I started to spend more and more time in my brothers old room in a tight single bed, surrounded by all the clutter he is yet to move to the house he lives with his wife and child. It almost became the norm that I would either slink there in the middle of the night when I lost all patience with the ferry sleeping next to me, or just admit complete defeat and set up camp there come bed-time.

Moving forward a few more years and we are in our first flat together. Privacy and our own space…finally. The first few weeks, when we were doing the initial decorating to get us to a point where we could fully move in, we were sleeping on Z beds and then a mattress on the floor. It didn’t feel like a sacrifice or something to grumble about, we were just so excited about this new chapter and I had always dreamed of eating takeaway on the floor of my first empty flat like they do in the movie. I always think of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze smooching as they crane all those boxes into their amazing loft apartment. Our situation involved less square footage and less abs but it was still cute.

A few weeks in we found our dream sofa on Ebay which soon became a second bed as it was much comfier than the sofa bed we had purchased for the second bedroom/office room.

October 2019 we welcomed a new life in to the flat, in the form of Nimbus, a foster siamese cat. We were indefinitely looking after him while my friend recovered from life-saving surgery. We now had a new factor influencing how and where we slept.

Nimbus liked to partake at Parkour, climbing and jumping off any surface he fancies in the early hours of the night. He’d also climb on the wardrobes and sit in front of the middle TV section and scream at us in his distinct Siamese tone. He’d also bring his favourite toy to me (which was generally a green cable tie he’d fallen in love with) and demand I play fetch, launching himself off the bed and waking Si in the process. Si would openly admit that he doesn’t cope well with interrupted or lack of sleep, so it soon become clear we’d need to come up with a solution and fast because it was creating a rift between us. But this wasn’t our cat to re-train so we needed to come up with a passive aggressive way to deal with the situation.

The solution we came up with was me sleeping on the comfy sofa in the lounge, aware that Nimbus was attached to me he would likely do ‘his thing’ in the living room instead of the bedroom where Si was trying to sleep ahead of his 12 hour days at the office.

To be honest it was fine by me. If anything, the sofa is more comfortable than our bed with the bonus that my sleep wasn’t soundtracked by snoring anymore and I could fall asleep to my NY coffee house bodies again.

Fast forward to now (lockdown May 2020) and we now have our own noisy Siamese called Blubell creating her own formula of night-time havoc. We listened to the advice of her previous owner who said he’d always shut her in a  room with her food and litter tray at night. So we decided her room would be the office/second bedroom. For the first few weeks, she obliged, fuss free and we wouldn’t hear a peep from her all night. But now she’s so attached she gets very upset by the separation, so much so she started to laugh herself at the door will simultaneously scream meowing. It was upsetting to hear, not to mention disruptive, and in a flat the size of ours there was no way to escape it. She became so persistent at jumping at the door she learned how to open the handles. The last time she managed to do it within 3 minutes of trying meaning she was right outside our bedroom door repeating her signature whine.

This year I had actually started to sleep in the bed with Si at leats 80% of the time so I didn’t want to revert back to how things were when Nimbus was here, so we have relented and this week trialled allowing Bluebell to have free reign at night. So far it’s better, but far from perfect. Last night she jumped on my chest at 3.22am and then decided she wanted to spoon until it was time for her slaves to get up.

So there’s a few of my sleep enemies – but what have become friends and aids to my sleep?

With a voucher I got through a job I bought one of those alarms that wake you up with a subtly increasing brightness of light and bird song.

My parents gave me a full body pregnancy pillow for my birthday, to try and help reduce the pain factor I feel when I lie in bed. I loved it, but it took up so much of the bed it was swiftly Veto’d by Si and is now used to prop up our headboard so it covers the ugly body of the bed till we can afford to buy ourselves a new one.

Another weird symptoms of one of my conditions is trouble regulating temperature and I read that Linen is very helpful in this regards so I swapped by cotton sheets and duvet cover for linen, and I believe it’s helped a noticeable amount.

I have a lovely calming pillow spray I use on nights I feel particularly anxious. If I know I’m waking up the next day to do something work related that makes me nervous I might listen to the recordings of my Hypnosis sessions.

My mattress is a cheap ex display so I got a nice thick topper for it to make it feel more cushioned and sumptuous.

If I want to increase my chances of an undisturbed sleep I consider what I eat for dinner, and try not to have foods that feature in my intolerance lists. I’m not good at this if I’m honest, because predictably they’re some of the most delicious foods.

During lockdown I’ve been having more baths in the evening and I’m sure they’re helpful in making me wind down successfully. As long as I don’t ruin it by spending time drying my hair and waking myself up in the process. Im guessing the drowsiness I feel might have something to do with the fact that I run them so hot I become medium rare.

This week we had a new delivery from Silent Night – The UK’s most trusted sleep brand, with over 70 years of experience and a true understanding of sleep. The large parcel was the Silent Night Ultimate Luxury Pillow Pair. I knew we needed new pillows but I was hesitant to accept the gifting until I found out whether they are vegan friendly, and was pleased to be informed that they are feather free. The down-like filling is in fact clusters of hollow fibre. All cotton used is also Better Cotton Initiative certified, which is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world and exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future.

I have tried to elevate our pillow situation before, not just the pregnancy pillow, but by buying some firmer ones because Si has always moaned that my soft ones melted away to nothing as soon as he put his head down, a bit like un-set meringues. Then the complains became about how hard they were and how they have made his neck jarr. So when this opportunity came up I asked him which way to go this time and we decided to see how we got on with Medium on the firmness scale (RRP is £32 but with the offer I’m about to tell you about, you can get yours much cheaper). Just call us Goldielocks.

We’ve had a few nights with our new pillows now. Until Bluebell wakes us up we seem to stay sound asleep, which is a pretty good going in a block of flats with fairly noisy neighbours. I deduce that we must be nailing it on the comfort front now thank to our new luxurious cloud-like pillows. There was one night after a curry where their were a few IBS disturbances, but as soon as we nestled our weary heads back in to the luxurious cotton pillows it wasn’t long before we were back in dreamland. Talking of dreams, are you finding you’re having the most vivid ones of your life during Lockdown? It’s like your brain wants to make up for the lack of activity in real life. Or perhaps it’s the anxiety and uncertainty we are all feeling making our dreams more cinematic.

I imagine with the weight and drama of everything happening in the world right now many of us are going to find sleeping challenging – or we might be so exhausted by it all the opposite may be true. Either way we can utilise all those methods we’ve been taught – write things down to clear our minds, make sure the bedroom is separate from the work space, don’t eat too late or heavily, turn off tech at least an hour before bed etc. Some of those are easier said than done (the food and tech part particularly in my case), but making sure the place your sleeping is as comfortable as possible has got to be a big help too, and a pillow is perhaps the most affordable change you can make in this process. It will also add a dose of luxury to the sanctuary of your home. Particularly if you make the most of QVC’s ‘Today’s Special offer’ which is available for 24 hours now (8th June) until midnight tonight- where you’ll get the pillows at 30% off their usual price. Click here to grab yours!

P.S Wishing you sweet dreams during this revolutionary time we find ourselves in. Please don’t feel guilty for retreating or needing rest, not only is it always a human necessity, times like this could be depleting our reserves like never before. There’s no shame in wanting to make your efforts sustainable by making sure you’re looking after your wellbeing.

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