When John Lennon sang: "I'm so tired I haven't slept a wink. I'm so tired my mind is on the blink," he was referring to a girl.
Gone are the days where my sleep deprivation is caused by matters of the heart.
In fact, if there's a choice between a romantic frisson or a good night's zzzz I'll opt for sleep any day, thanks.
I'm more like the Prodigy's Keith: "I can't get no sleep."
See, insomnia plays havoc with your grammar.
The Holy Grail
I haven't slept properly since pregnancy, seven years ago.
I'm on a frustrating quest. Like Scrat, the acorn-seeking squirrel from 'Ice Age'.
Only, I'm in search of the illusive eight hours' sleep.
As a youngster I suffered from nightmares and the odd bit of sleepwalking. No doubt bought on by my fear of Daleks and the child catcher from 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'.
In my teens I could sleep for England. Going to bed after 'The Hitman and Her' and waking up in time for 'Neighbours' (and I'm not talking about the lunchtime edition, either).
Not even Dad's pneumatic snoring could stir me from my slumber.
In my professional years I burnt the candle at both ends and would pass out in an intoxicated coma after a work's do.
But I was young. I could take it. I could lounge around all weekend reading Bridget Jones and cooking microwave meals for one.
Plus, my boss took pity on me. I think it was the vomiting incident in the filing cabinet which persuaded her.
I shared the bed with my cat Charlie and we would nap together.
When I became part of a couple sleep was the last thing on my mind....
Sleep like a Baby
Sleep became scarce in pregnancy. At the peak I was carrying nearly 14 lbs of babies, measuring 5ft 2 in height and circumference.
A weary Weeble.
|Weeble: Three weeks before I popped|
|Weebles wobble but they don't fall down|
Mr N was relegated to the sofa, while I cuddled up in bed with Phil, my pregnancy pillow.
Charlie was still permitted access.
Pain, discomfort, hot flushes, heartburn, indigestion; the usual suspects.
"Get used to it," they would say.
"This is what it'll be like when the babies arrive."
As I was propelled into a further six plus years of bleary eyes.
The newborn era, with separate feeding and sleep times (the boys were never in sync) were hard. My husband and I would simply pass each other like ships in the night.
During the day I would commit the usual sleep-deprived crimes of accidentally putting my car keys in the bin, leaving the house in my leopard print slippers and having to re-count the head count when I went out (remember, two babies, not one).
Then came teething, potty training, escaping from the cot, night terrors.
I was tempted to glug a bottle of 'Medised' just to get some shut eye.
"It's only for the first few years," they said.
I can honestly say that we have not had a single night when one of the boys hasn't woken up crying or had a nightmare.They'll be in Junior school next year!
Many friends with kids the same age or even younger look on in shock at this.
Maybe the boys have inherited my night terrors (they used to be known as nightmares). Maybe we are all worthy candidates for a sleep study.
Mine will be buying their first pint before this subsides.
I became used to disturbed sleep patterns.
Reasons to be Tearful
On paper I would appear to get sleep. But it is broken.
I am a light sleeper. Once I wake my mind goes into overdrive.
It's a vicious circle. The more I think about the time and how little sleep I've had, the harder it is to get back down.
The problem may be hereditary. I come from a line worriers who wake at the drop of a pin.
My Nan used to get up in the dark at 5am. God knows why. The post office didn't even open until 9.30am.
My Mom goes to bed at 2am. She likes to read. "Ooh, what have you got on the go?" I ask.
"Jordan's autobiography. Peter's autobiography. Jodie Marsh's autobiography," she replies.
It's the stuff of nightmares.
There are lots of excuses why I am useless at sleeping. Namely me. I am my own worst enemy.
My typical night:
7.45pm - Boys in bed
8pm - Dinner and tidy up
9pm- Essential FB maintenance (her) video games (him)
10pm - I start to feel tired, but fight it
11pm - I go to bed
11.30pm - I fall asleep (if lucky)
12am - Mr N creeps into the room by light of his Blackberry. I am disturbed (literally)
1am - A boy wakes. I get up and return him to bed
2am - Neighbours are playing musical cars
3am - Another boy wakes. I go in to reassure him that Kermit is not in the wardrobe
4am - The cat flap goes. I consider going downstairs armed with a can of Elnett to confront the imaginary intruder
4-6am - Thoughts active. Body not. Did I return that library book? Are we running low on Weetabix? I scribble my thoughts down in a book by the bed. The next day this resembles a poor man's Pictionary.
6am - I drift off.
6.30am - A refuse truck decides to visit our cul-de-sac.
Morning is more than broken. It's decimated.
My husband is oblivious to all of this.
"Well that was a good night, wasn't it?" he says.
Akin to a hangover, but without any of the pleasures of the previous night.
Shakes, hallucinations, blurred vision, headaches, bloodshot eyes, dizziness, irritability, irrationality, slowness, emotional instability.
Man, I feel like Judy Finnigan...
Sod Touche Eclat - I need a tonne of clay to sort these bags out. I look haggard.
I need intravenous caffeine.
The school run is monosyllabic. The shades should shield my sore eyes and maybe act as a deterrent against mothers with testing questions about forthcoming parties, visits and fetes.
I should escape relatively unscathed. Unlike the time I handed in the boys' dinner money, only to get the sums terribly wrong.
It's a good job I no longer work in an office.
When I returned to work nine months after the boys were born I felt like I had been bludgeoned with a large hole punch.
Before I even entered the office I had been toiling for hours with sick, shit and snot.
Meanwhile, a colleague was having a traumatic morning because she had run out of Oats so Simple.
I attended a 'Wellbeing in the Workplace' course. We had to lie on the floor, close our eyes and imagine the waves were lapping over us.
I couldn't relax and find my 'Zen'.
Firstly, the thoughts of water reminded me that I needed the toilet.
Secondly, it was too noisy. A rotund middle aged man from planning was already snoring away. Lucky him. But the combination of his snorts and rippling nasal hair was all too much.
The Science of Sleep
I've tried to combat my insomnia with various remedies from lavender oil to counting sheep. Even ear plugs.
A dream catcher, lovingly crafted by my children.
The bloody feathers ignited my recurring spider dream (where I dart out the room screaming because a giant arachnoid is about to land on my face).
Except for gin.
My Nan, who is 98 next month, always swore by: "Just a drop" of sherry each night to see her through to 5am.
And she still has the complexion of an 80-year-old.
Only a big mallet, alcohol or ketamine will knock this mother out.
Mr N wants to check me in to the sleep clinic with all the twitchers and screamers.
It's one step away from a straight jacket as far as I'm concerned.
Some friends follow their children's sleeping hours. But I can't bring myself to go to bed at eight, even though I am usually shattered.
What next? Warm milk? Biscuits? 'Guess how much I love you?' and a Pillow Pet (actually, that's rather appealing).
Maybe a spa retreat is required. Like in the olden days. A flotation tank. Like a giant amniotic sac.
I would be thrashing about like a distressed Porpoise.
I bet Sarah Harding never had this trouble in rehab.
Sleeping at inappropriate Times
Don't get me wrong, I need sleep. I seem to be permanently tired.
Typically, I can't seem to sleep in my bed at night.
Nor in the daytime.
Power nap? More like energy zap. My stores are lower than Tesco on a Bank Holiday.
I used to lie in at weekends. But now I get up, make breakfast and pack the boys' lunchboxes, only to realise it isn't a school day.
But I can sleep at other times. When I'm not supposed to.
Like on the sofa, in the middle of an action/alien/horror film.
Or when my husband is re-telling his day at work.
I always miss the end of the film (it's not integral to the plot. The aliens/zombies are destroyed and the American soldiers win) and awake to Alan Hansen's dreary tones.
"Just leave me to sleep here," I say.
I wake up, delirious, on the sofa. Natalie Cassidy is barking on about the Health Lottery (I still don't understand what this is).
What's that noise? The acrobatic "We can rest anywhere, ha ha!' cats are licking themselves.
I'm so coming back as a feline...
Boozing and Snoozing
I can sleep after a skinful.
But then I wake up fully clothed, dehydrated and yearning for grease - the food source - not the 1970s musical. Although that's always a good hangover film.
Recently, I went on a girly hotel break.
We went to bed in the early hours, a little worse for wear.
I dropped into a blissful slumber. Until my energetic friends - with their swimming costumes - gave me a 6am alarm call, asking if I fancied a dip in the pool.
Even the thought of Tom Daley parading around in his Speedos couldn't drag me out of my pit.
Turns out there were a couple of ageing businessmen from Cheadle in the shallow end discussing the latest sales figures for Allen keys.
I didn't miss much. But I did get some pillow time.
Sleep is for Wimps
Maggie Thatcher famously existed on just four hours' sleep. I am less of an Iron and more of an MDF Lady.
I do need more than six or so broken hours.
Many of my friends rise with oodles of energy and are competing in marathons and bake offs, all before a full day at the office, while I am on a go slow.
I need to face the fact that I may never sleep well again. Another sign of getting older.
There are some positives:
If there is an emergency in the night, like a rogue cat sneaking into the house, I will hear it.
I can get up and watch televisual events as they happen.
Like the airing of the final, disappointing, episodes of Lost, various gambling programmes, baseball from the US or Babestation (I don't even like sport. Nor do I bat for the other side).
Because I wake up early of a weekend, I will never miss an episode of Saturday Morning Kitchen or a Fleabay delivery from the postman.
Pass me the Sherry. Just a drop. I mean bottle....