The diary of a sleepless night

10th May 2018
Prevention resources and tools

I have real trouble with sleep, so much so that not sleeping has become a constant in my life.

I'm working out ways to move away from 'one good nights sleep, one terrible nights sleep, one good nights sleep, one terrible nights sleep' to a more consistent and regular nights sleep.

I've written a diary about what it's like to be me when sleep doesn't arrive.

First moment of consciousness in the morning

  • I'm awake
  • It’s morning
  • I can feel the warmth of the mattress cocooning me, the softness of the pillow and duvet over my face
  • The light is creeping in around the edge of sheet
  • I can hear birds singing announcing the day and the traffic starting to get busy

What happened through the night?

Eventually... I remember... I got to sleep okay

  • I woke up just after 1am
  • I stayed awake until 5am
  • I finally fell back into deep sleep, exhausted
  • Dragged out of deep sleep with urgent alarm at 6.30am
  • Another day with only three and a half hour's sleep
  • It’s going to be a long one
Sleep graphic

How my body and mind feel


Just got to get through the next 15 or so hours, it’s going to be a long day and I must stay awake all day

  • Mood is flat
  • No energy
  • No enthusiasm
  • Few decision-making powers
  • No creativity
  • Struggle to recall, or remember
  • No focus or little attention to detail on something
  • Mind all over the place - darting about
  • Feel unproductive and uncreative. Stupid
  • Everything’s a huge effort


I feel exhausted, it’s been an exhausting night … and all I’ve done is ‘sleep’

  • Thick brain fog
  • Tired gritty eyes
  • Sore joints
  • Body aches
  • Body ways a ton
  • Walking is tiring
  • The gym is beyond hard
  • And I can’t drive today

The sleepless 'quick fixes' I'm tempted to do

Discipline is hard with diminished willpower, it’s easy to reach for a fast fix

  • Must not sleep or nap, must stay upright until tonight
  • Need to not go for the sugars, the caffeine and fast fixes
  • I know they'll each cause a crash and a trough and an extra hill to climb... must think longer term

Feeling the pressure of getting a good nights sleep

  • Must get to bed at 10pm
  • Need to start again
  • Must create a better night... and then a better day

Thoughts before bed

  • Why am I so awake at 10pm?
  • Wish I was this awake at 8am
  • Must get to sleep

Tips that help me

Behaviour that helps

  • Get fresh air, have a walk early in the morning to kickstart the day
  • No caffeine after noon
  • No alcohol: zero, zilch, nothing at all at any time of day
  • Eat bananas and magnesium
  • Exercise

Good sleep hygiene

  • Write and empty head of worries and to do lists
  • No screen time before bed
  • Have a warm bath
  • Read and listen smooth music
  • Make sure the room is cool and dark

A mindset that helps

  • Be kind and know that it takes baby steps
  • Remember you can keep going when sleeplessness overwhelms you
  • List three things you are grateful for
  • Tune in with your feelings - note how do you feel
  • Tune in with the impact - how does it affect you
  • Remember what works and doesn't work for you
  • Think about what you can do differently
  • And remember the difference this makes

Related content

A-Z Topic: Sleep and mental health

We all need to sleep well to help our bodies recover from the day and to allow healing to take place.

Blog: 'Ten top tips for good sleep'

When we don’t get good sleep, it can contribute to a range of problems including depression and anxiety. But it can sometimes feel hard to achieve amid the pressures of daily life. To help, we have come up with these top ten tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.

How to sleep better

Sleep affects our ability to use language, sustain attention, understand what we are reading, and summarise what we are hearing; if we compromise on our sleep, we compromise on our performance, our mood, and our interpersonal relationships.

Taking Sleep Seriously: Sleep and our mental health

Sleep is integral to all aspects of our lives, yet sleep is often one of the first things we compromise when things become busy or overwhelming.

Was this content useful?