I’ve alluded to this on Instagram a few times, but in the latter half of 2018 I did not sleep well. If I’m being completely honest, I haven’t slept well since October 2017, which is when I first moved in with my boyfriend. Basically, I snore. I snore like a demon with a power drill. I snore so loudly that you can hear it through walls. I snore intermittently, meaning you can never tell if I’ve actually stopped for a while or if, any second now, the incessant buzzing may return, leaving you tense and stressed, never able to relax. This has been my poor boyfriend’s life for some time – needless to say, it caused some tension, and it turns out disrupted sleep is very, very bad for you.
We tried everything – earplugs, nasal sprays, mouthguards, mouth sprays, the whole shebang – and nothing helped. I spoke to a doctor who said they wouldn’t refer me to a specialist until I lost weight, which I am now in the process of doing. Ultimately, however, sharing a bed seven days a week was a nightmare for us; we eventually settled into a routine where whenever I woke my boyfriend, he would wake me and I’d go and sleep on the sofa for the rest of the night. He would have slept on the sofa, but as it was a tiny two-seater he was far too tall to be even remotely comfortable – even for me at 5″4 it wasn’t great. So our routine was set, and for months and months this was how we lived.
It wasn’t too bad for the first year, as I didn’t wake him every night, but in the last six months of 2018 things changed. New neighbours moved in downstairs and woke us most nights, disturbing both our sleep even more than usual, and as I became more and more stressed from buying our flat, my snoring got worse. I was now spending every night on the sofa, struggling to fall back asleep and lying awake until 3am most nights. I was averaging four hours a night, seven on a very good one, and it was showing. My personality changed. When I was seventeen I was put on the pill for my skin and it did not agree with me; I became completely irrational, with the slightest thing sending me into a rage. I was prone to hysterics and became completely unreasonable. Upon stopping the medication, I returned back to my normal chirpy self within a week. Sleep-deprived Bethany was much the same, except it didn’t go away.
I was angry at everything, taking it out on my boyfriend and everyone else in my life. I distanced myself from my friends and gradually lost control. I frequently felt like there was someone else in control of my body – it wasn’t me saying those awful things, it wasn’t me screaming at my poor boyfriend, it was this monster that had somehow crawled inside me and turned me into the worst version of myself. I honestly felt possessed at times, unable to stop myself from flipping out at the slightest thing. How we made it through those months I’ll never know, except that my boyfriend did not deserve any of it and I don’t know how he could stand it.
Disrupted sleep is a terrible thing, and once we understood what it was that was making me behave this way we made some changes. A double air bed was purchased and made a massive difference, as it meant we could both actually get a full night’s sleep. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it helped me gain some semblance of control. We already knew that when we moved we wanted a two-bedroom flat, and that’s what we bought in the end. We have a double bed in one room and a super king in the other, and while we principally share the big bed, if we’re both feeling particularly tired we’ll sleep in separate rooms as a guarantee that we’ll both sleep well. Crucially, if he has to wake me in the night, I have an actual bed to go to rather than a cramped sofa, and in our much quieter flat we’re far less disturbed by neighbours and outside noises than before. I still snore, but it’s far less of a problem these days, helped by the fact that I’m better rested overall and far less stressed. I’m also losing weight, which I think is helping, but we’ll only know for sure once I’ve lost a lot more.
I’m in a far better state that I was six months ago. My boyfriend is understandably happy to have his girlfriend back in the land of the sane, and I’m happy to no longer feel like I’m constantly on the verge of spinning out of control. I was in such a negative place last year that I considered doing terrible things to myself, and I never want to feel like that again. I wasn’t myself, and I don’t think there’s anything scarier than feeling possessed by an evil, angry version of yourself. Sleep well folks, it’s important.
I’ve linked a few websites explaining the science behind disrupted sleep below, so if it’s something you struggle with or just want to know more about I’d recommend having a read. It’s only through research that we realised just how much of an effect disrupted sleep can have on your mood – in some cases, more so than no sleep at all.