Sleep is a very important aspect of self-care. Adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, we’re told. And those of us who don’t quite achieve this will probably tell you it’s not through lack of trying. While most of us will probably go to bed early enough to get the right amount of sleep, we then struggle to either fall asleep or stay asleep. We may be woken up by our children, a pet, a partner, or just outside noises. But once we’re up, we’re up thinking. And often that goes on for a little while too. So what keeps you awake at night with worry?
Anxieties and worries about money are a big deal. Most of us have huge financial responsibilities – rent or the mortgage, debts, bills, food shopping, childcare and everything and anything related to our children… The list can go on and on.
Claire from Big Family, Big Fun says: “With 5 kids it’s a constant concern. And with hubby’s NHS wages frozen for 7 years now (and yet cost of living consistently going up) our finances are getting more and more stretched. The kids are growing up fast, and the societal expectations now are huge compared to what they were when we were their age. I constantly worry that our finances are holding them back. I already suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, and money worries are making things a million times worse. Debt is increasing too at a time when we had hoped to be debt-free. It definitely keeps me up at night.”
It’s no surprise that we worry about our own health and the health of our partners and children.
Danielle from S0meone’s Mum says: “My anxiety really makes me worry that the people I love will be seriously injured, or fall ill. The scenarios get pretty elaborate in my mind, and it takes a lot of willpower to not let those thoughts take over.”
And Katie from Living Life Our Way says: “Worries over my daughter’s health and her quality of sleep (or lack of it!) often keeps me awake at night even when she is asleep, ironically.”
Laura from Five Little Doves says: “After three years of unexplained illness, that keeps me awake at night. I think as a parent my biggest fear is not being there for my children, and I often work myself up into such a panic, which isn’t healthy at all. I also have insomnia, so I can spend a lonnnnng time awake each night worrying!!”
Emma from Me & B make tea says: “I often worry about being sick and getting ill. I have emetophobia, a fear of vomiting, so this sometimes keeps me up at night. Thankfully not as much now that I’m a mum, and I just need to sleep!”
Whilst the worry for Emma C. is: “At the moment, our future. I lost two friends to cancer last year, and now I worry what would happen if Mr C and I got poorly. We live in Jersey and have no family on the island, so I worry about what would happen.”
3. Being a parent
A parent worries about their child(ren). No surprise there, right?
Lisa from Bare Mother says: “I’ve become pretty good at switching off worrying thoughts, but the thing that I always catch myself coming back to is my son. He’s a toddler, and I worry about the little things – is he hitting his milestones? Is he eating right, and is he happy? Is his behaviour normal? Right through to every disaster scenario you can think of.
I tend not to read the news as freely as I did before I had a child. So many horrible things are reported, and it’s easy for me to go from empathising to putting myself or my child in the situation. I find it helps if I check on him every night right before I go to bed, just to be certain he’s breathing. I generally lock up the house too, so I can relax knowing we’re secure and the little guy is content. No one tells you about the constant worry before you have kids!”
And when it comes to having children, labour and birth are a big deal too! As Sarah from Arthurwears says: “I had really bad PTSD after my labour with Arthur, and I would literally lie in bed at night having awful flashbacks and playing everything over in my mind. It got worse when I fell pregnant again, but I recently had the birth debriefed at the hospital, which really helped. Now I find I’m worrying more about what will happen to Arthur, and whether he will be okay when I go into labour with the next baby, rather than the labour itself!”
Families can be complicated. And things don’t always run smoothly.
When asked about what keeps her up at night, Nadia from Scandi Mummy said: “In the past it’s been family relations. When you fall out with someone close to you it can cause a lot of tension which can lead to worry.”
5. Politics and the news
As Eva from Captain Bobcat says: “Last couple of times I’ve been awake during the night because I was worried, it happened because of global politics. First Brexit, then Trump, then North – Korea with the nuke. I know it sounds stupid, but I have no influence on them, so global political issues do worry me a lot. Especially lately.”
And sadly, this is certainly getting more real and ‘closer to home’ for many of us – I’m not surprised it keeps up, worried and even upset, at night.
6. Never-ending to-do lists
Most people I know tend to over-commit. Apparently, we have a tendency to misjudge time and think we’ll have more time in the future. So we say yes, but what we don’t realise is that we’re only adding to an already-cluttered to-do list.
Bek from Dillydrops says: “I worry that I’ve not done everything on my to do list and that I’ll be too tired to wake up for my alarm. Even if I’ve completed my list, I worry that I’ve forgotten something.”
And Jo from Cup of Toast says: “I worry about my to-do list. As trivial as it sounds, it is rather long and getting a good balance of ticking things off across the week helps me to pace myself and not use up too much energy on one day. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), so pacing myself is essential! I use highlighter pens, notebooks and post-it notes to help sort it out so that I can drift off more easily.”
7. The next day
Has it ever happened to you to wake up and start thinking about a meeting or a presentation that you have to give the next day? Or maybe you just start going through the list of activities and tasks you have planned?
Amy from Eps & Amy says: “I have anxiety. What makes me sleepless is the night before a big day out (e.g. a trip to London or a day out). I worry I’m going to be ill, which makes me feel ill and then when I’m up all night I end up ill the next day. Vicious circle!”
This is not at all uncommon, as Frances from Whinge Whinge Wine says: “Aside from my husband snoring, the thing that keeps me awake is worrying I’ll be too tired to do whatever it is I have planned the next day. Go figure.”
And what if you just don’t wake up in time for it all? Laura from The Breastest News says: “I worry that I haven’t set my alarm properly and that I’ll sleep in for work/school run etc. I end up checking my alarm about a million times before I’m convinced it’s set.”
8. Racing thoughts
The more you tell yourself that you need to sleep right now, the more you can’t stop thinking about the most random things. Things that you definitely don’t need to be thinking about at silly am.
As Deborah from Country Heart and Home puts it: “The thing is I can go from one thing to something else in a flash. I once wiggled my feet in bed, which made me think of that Big Brother episode where Michelle and Stu were under the table. ‘Michelle?? Wasn’t that the name of that woman who won X-Factor who we never heard of again??? What happened to her? Maybe I should Google it? Was it X-Factor or X Files? I haven’t seen that for a while, and Gillian is in The Fall. I never did see the final episode. Yes, it’s 4am, but I now feel the need to watch the last episode. WTF I might as well just get up!!’ Yes, that actually does happen on a regular basis. Sorry, anyone else?!!”
Have I locked the front door? The back door? Are the windows closed? Was that a noise? What was it?
Jenny from Monkey and Mouse says: “I always worry that I forgot to lock the doors. Then I get paranoid about noises downstairs and think about what I would do if someone broke in!!”
But amongst all the sleepless nights, we also had someone with a great tip. When we asked Jon from The Money Shed Blog what keeps him awake at night, he said: “Nothing! And the reason for that is because I do 6 HIIT classes a week, and by the time bedtime rolls around all my adrenalin is out of my system, and I am physically tired as well!” Maybe next time we’ll have to talk about what to do if you can’t sleep!
What about you? What keeps YOU up at night? And do you have any tips to share to help us all relax and get back to sleep? (I have a feeling we’re going to talk more about mindfulness because we know it can help!)