Insomnia (and teenagers) are not for the weak

I am not sleeping. I haven’t been sleeping for many months. To be fair, I’ve always been a night owl, with my best hours being between 8pm and 2am. Apart from when the kids were babies of course. Then I became a ‘small section of the afternoon’ owl, with my most alert time being between 2pm and 2:03pm. But historically I’ve always been ok with not much sleep. Now however, I seem to be speedily evolving into a creature who is both nocturnal and diurnal (yes I did look that up). Not so much ‘survival of the fittest’ as ‘scraping along of the debilitated’.

Naturally, I am not helping myself. I need to eat better and exercise more, which I would absolutely do if I had the energy to do it, or even to appreciate the Catch-22. I also have three different chronic pain conditions, none of which are serious in any way, but nevertheless make it tricky to relax.

And of course, I have a husband. Who snores. He says that I snore sometimes too, and he may well be right, but given that I am nearly always bloody awake, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it doesn’t affect him too much. Him on the other hand…I have lain in bed wistfully imagining how much quieter it would be to sleep next to a revving motorbike in a thunderstorm. I have had jealous thoughts about people who live under flight paths and next to railway stations, and I have considered going to all-night raves and snuggling up next to the loudspeaker, just to get a bit of peace and quiet.

I wish I could be like those people on the adverts, inserting their lovely new earplugs and settling down to a blissful night’s sleep. Instead, I lie there listening through my earplugs, to decibel levels on a par with a space shuttle launch, imagining where said earplugs might better be inserted. It would definitely wake him up.

Having said all that, it’s not really about the snoring, or I wouldn’t have slept for the 20 years we’ve been together. Whatever it is, I need to act fast. I downloaded an app the other day which allows you to ‘meet your future face’. I thought it would be a bit of fun so I uploaded a photograph of myself to see what I might look like in 20 years. The app decided I was currently 60, and proceeded to show me an utterly horrifying picture of a corpse that will apparently be me at age 80. It also gave a brief description underneath, explaining that because I clearly have no self-control, the ageing process has begun early, but don’t worry, I can reverse it all immediately if I just get some good sleep.

After a few brief minutes of wondering what kind of material within my reach might make the best noose, I had a brainwave. I uploaded a photo of my cat instead. The app told my cat that although it might currently have a young and active appearance, it would likely start to feel old soon if it didn’t do something about its unstable mental attitude. I felt a bit better after that, although I did immediately Google ‘is therapy for cats a thing?’ so I’m not saying I’m out of the woods just yet.

With a view to helping my sleep, and our general health, we have decided as a family that we need to do something about the amount of time spent on our phones. And when I say as a family, I mean that the children were against the idea in every conceivable way, but were overruled.

We thought we would make Sundays a family day, that would also be phones-free. We pictured warm scenes of family bonding, laughter and memory making. What we experienced was in fact World Wars 3, 4 and 5, followed by a dog walk peppered with sighs, eye rolls and moaning, and finishing up with a subdued board game with our youngest, while our teenager sat in her room and stared angrily at the wall for two and a half hours.

Not that the day was without enjoyment. We enjoyed being compared to prison wardens, kidnappers and psychopaths. I was informed by my 15-year-old that no other parents on the planet insist on spending time with their children. I mildly pointed out that she sees her friends all week at school, on several midweek evenings, on Friday nights and all day Saturday, and that we thought it would be nice to catch a glimpse of her at least one day a week. Her response was that frankly I needed to just accept the fact that it was normal for teenagers to want to be with their friends, and I should expect to spend time with her again from about the age of 20.

I’m pleased to say that the matter is now resolved. Once I had my phone back on Monday, I checked with her friends’ parents and confirmed that they spend their Sundays in a similar way, and in fact request more family time than we do.

Now that she no longer has to worry about fear of missing out, she is on board with the idea of existing in a family that might want to speak to her every now and then, so we can all relax. Until one of us actually speaks that is.

Bring on Bedtime!

One thought on “Insomnia (and teenagers) are not for the weak

  1. Had to read this blog with a loud smile! Speaking as a male suffering with, allegedly, loud snoring I can only quote Kathy Lette from an article I saw in one of my wife’s magazines. It appears that male snoring is in fact a design fault so is unlikely to be put right in the next 100,000 years. As for the teenager problem, I can’t empathise as, when ours were that age, there were no mobile phones, and were yet to metamorphose into bricks. But I believe ‘no devices’ days are working to some extent with teenagers and sub-teenagers in our family. Good luck.


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