ISSUE #5 - The Sleep Issue
Because sleep matters more than we think...
Welcome back! How are you? It’s lovely to have you here - thank you for coming back. And if you are a new subscriber, a double-welcome - it’s great you’re here:)
So, dear readers, are you enjoying gradually getting back out there and reclaiming a little of life pre-COVID? I expect you’re tentatively stepping back out there and taking up the things we so took for granted pre-pandemic. That’s been one of the lessons, hasn’t it? How the small things matter just as much as the big things :)
So, this issue is all about sleep. It might seem a bit weird to dedicate a whole newsletter to sleep and how it affects us. But up to 48% of adults have some form of dysfunction with their sleep. And that’s an awful lot of people. Originally, lack of sleep and poor sleep patterns were thought only to cause tiredness the next day, but research has shown that chronic sleep problems can contribute to cardiac problems, mood and mental health, weakened immunity and a risk of diabetes amongst other scary things.
MY SLEEP STORY
Until recently, I was one of those 48% of adults who don’t sleep well. It started after I came off a very high dosage of Gabapentinin in 2018, given to me unnecessarily by a high-handed nurse practitioner to shut me up and get me out of the GP’s surgery. I’d experienced a slipped disc which was made worse by some poor chiropractionary treatment and meant I was in absolute agony. So, I went back to my health centre for about the fourth time to ask what they could do, and rather than refer me to their in-house physiotherapy practice to rebuild my battered lumbar spine, I was prescribed a daily dose of 1800mg of Gabapentin. In it’s original form, Gabapentin is produced for epilepsy but it is often prescribed “off label” for other conditions. Extreme pain is one of those. But Gabapentin severely disrupts brain chemistry meaning that patients have a nightmare time when they need to come off it.
Without going into the whole sorry story (that might be one for another newsletter) I managed to come off that dreadful drug leaving me with very disturbed sleep patterns. Also, I think the drug hastened and increased menopause symptoms, meaning that these two combined made me experience the double whammy of night sweats and disrupted sleep patterns. For about two years I suffered insomnia that had me waking about 3.00am each night unable to get back to sleep.
This affected me not only in energy, but in mood and productivity. As a freelancer, I have a degree of independence with my work, and this no doubt was a benefit. During this time I only worked a couple of days on-site for an agency and managed to cope with the requirements of working on-site, but on the days I was working from home, I was wiped out.
I trudged on and scoured the internet for sleep remedies and tried practically every one of them - most of which didn't work. But I found some relief with Paul McKenna’s hypnotic trance audio each night - I Can Make You Sleep - (although it wasn’t foolproof), alongside doing restorative yoga each night before bed and drinking “golden milk”. A bit “new-age” I know, but at this point I was desperate and was willing to try anything.
Fast forward to 2021, and it’s only now my sleep pattern is improving. It’s taken 3 years of trial and error, plus maybe that amount of time for my very disrupted brain chemistry to settle after the Gabapentin.
There is so much information (and misinformation) out there, that it pays to look twice at recommendations. But, here’s a great article I devoured in the midst of my sleep deprived days, and I still refer to it now and again when I have a bad night. It’s quite comprehensive and I like how it looks at the practical suggestions combined with the “science bit”.
PODCAST RECOMMENDATION: NOTHING MUCH HAPPENS (for bedtime listening)
In the midst of all my trial and error solutions during my sleepless time, I came across this lovely podcast. It’s called Nothing Much Happens and that’s exactly it. Kathryn Nicolai created, writes and hosts the podcast and the style of each episode is a short, soothing scenario described perfectly so you feel you are actually there. The scenarios are homely happenings, such as going to visit a friend who has just had a new baby or escaping for a trek in the woods. Kathryn has such a soothing voice - it’s just her narrating the episode and the story is repeated after the first telling. This second telling is recorded on a different frequency that is meant to assist in helping the brain to switch off. It really is soothing - as she calls it “a soft landing spot for your brain”.
You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify etc. Be soothed!
So, this has been Issue #5 of the podcast and I hope you are enjoying it and it brings something, however small, to your life. I love writing the newsletter alongside running the 45NotOut podcast. The podcast reflects the values of this newsletter - supporting women aged 45+ who might feel they are not as valued as they once were.
I publish the podcast each month with a guest in this age range who has experienced something different in their life and has an amazing story to tell or an expert who can give advice about life issues that affect most of us at this age. I’ve covered things such as Imposter Syndrome and Empty Nest Syndrome. There is also a library of 18 episodes - take your pick from the library here
So, all that remains is for me to thank you sincerely for reading and subscribing to the newsletter. If you know of someone who might enjoy the newsletter, please share it using the button below.
I look forward to seeing you in a fortnight’s time.
Stay safe, well & strong