Unlearning Sleepless Nights: The Real Stuff

I was awake a lot in my first year of university.

I would sleep between 3 and 4 in the morning and would wake up sometime between 8 and 10 depending on my class time (yeah attendance). I was constantly exhausted and struggled to concentrate on anything and honestly have no real idea of how I survived or managed to pass my couses.

In the last 2 and half years my normal bedtime has been anywhere between 1 to 3:30am and I take every chance I have to sleep in. The worst thing about it is that it’s not an inability to go to sleep that is holding me back – it’s that I inexplicably refuse to rest.

I will be SO tired and then go to brush my teeth and listen to a song and then suddenly I will be more actively awake than I have been all day. Three albums later, my hair brushed, my face cleaned, one thousand ideas swirling I will make it to bed. And then again – as soon as I lie down – I am itching to pick something up – a book or my phone – to read one more line or look at one more post or write just one more idea down.

At the start of this year I realised that I tired of being tired. And honestly sick of feeling bad about myself for sleeping in and for wasting my day. And also, I guess, sick of having something controllable so out of whack. It was time to fix my sleeping schedule


The Process:I never had unrealistic goals. I have always been a night owl and I love staying up and sleeping – I just wanted it to be less whack.

I had three rules:

  1. Begin to get ready for bed at the same time as my flatmates.

Kat is an early to bed early to rise kind of girl and Tess was working so they both went to bed at reasonable times. Mirroring them and making sure I was as ready for bed as I could be meant there was less for me to get distracted by when I was left up by myself.

It also helped me to stop procrastinating sleep because there was nothing strenuous I had to do before bed (because brushing your teeth can be strenuous when you are a lazy gal who wants to stay up LATE).



2. Brush my teeth without listening to music.

I am amazed at how long I can stay up listening to and thinking about songs. HOURS. Literally HOURS.

3.Only ONE app before bed.

I can choose between reading my book or playing a game or looking at buzzfeed. It sounds stupid and it is – but that’s the point right. Sometimes you have to treat yourself as a child to make sure that you are looking after yourself. When you know you are being unreasonable then there is no point trying to rationalise – you have to act not think.


My First Week:


Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
This was a circumstantial success.


I was already so tired that I fell asleep at 9:30am.


My sleep was jerky and rough. I woke up thirsty and overheated at 11pm feeling like I had been sleeping for hours.


I woke up at 8:30am but made myself sleep until 10 because I felt sick.

This was a more classic me kind of night.


I brushed my teeth when my friends did and ended up turning out my light at 12:30.


I was tired when I woke up at 7 – but also rested.

Rob and I went to Nelson (hilarious kids) and were on his builder schedule so we had such an early night.


The girls at our Air BnBhost house were outrageously loud but it was cool feeling like a grandma and complaining about noise at like 11pm lol.


Back at home after a nice day in Nelson and I shadowed Tessa.


Bed at.. 12am!


Sleep was ok??

I went to bed by 12 again but woke up at 2am feeling sick.


Had a nice medicine tea and slept peacefully until 9:45








If you think it was irresponsible to go to Nelson this close to exams you would be right but I did anyway.


This was also the last night I took a note of my sleep and the first night I fucked up.


3am bedtime whats good.


This is a bad selection of diary entries but offer a little insight into my first week.



It’s been a few months and i’m doing better these days – I really, truly am.

The downside of this is that I get tireder easier and feel the strain of staying up late more. I used to be able to power through on a week of 3ams and now one or two a week is enough to knock me back. This is probably normal and also a result of #stress from uni and just being a little older than 18 but it is still a bit sad to realise you cant pull off an all nigher like you used to.

However the bright bit (!!!) is that one or two 3ams week is the most that I have. My bedtime is still past 12am but it is mostly before 1. The rules helped. I listen to songs but only one or two per teeth brush. I look at more than one app but only for a few minutes each. And on the days I feel very lost or over-tired or dumb I follow my flatmates and somehow I end up in bed kind of on time all the same.

It isn’t a complete fix. There is a lot of unlearning to do and sleeping to catch up on, but I am trying and that in itself is comforting I think. I think the biggest take away from this experience is that even the worst habits are not hopelessly stuck and that you can unlearn anything with a bit of grit, some firm belief and a softness towards yourself whenever you muck up.

Also that sometimes it is good to treat yourself as a child – because honestly sometimes you are. And think, how do you talk to a child who insists on misbehaving? Firmly and strictly but also kindly. You deserve the same level of care as you would give them. Nurture yourself. Every day is a good day to learn.

Lots of love and GOOD NIGHT (almost) from a hopeless-case-no-more xo.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. So true that sometimes we need to treat ourselves like children, with all the love and boundaries that involves. There’s a great book about sleeping called Tired But Wired. It sounds as though you’re mastering this without it but if you ever want some extra ideas of things that might be helpful then I highly recommend it and there’s often copies in the local library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lovefromzar says:

      Thank you !


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