Skip to comments.My Battle With Insomnia: How Roxanne Pallett Didn't Sleep for Three Days
Posted on 04/24/2012 3:18:26 PM PDT by nickcarraway
"I have had to live with being constantly tired all my life and I walk around in a constant daze", says the former Emmerdale actress
Former Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett, 29, has suffered from insomnia since childhood.
Her chronic sleep problem was at its worst when her best friend committed suicide two years ago.
Here she tells how it can affect her ability to lead a normal life
Being constantly tired is something I have had to live with all my life and most days I walk around in a constant daze.
Normally I can never ever get to sleep before 1am, and sometimes it might even be 3am.
I can lie awake for three or four hours at a time and my mind is racing.
Generally I have about four hours sleep a night and at the most six.
I dont think Ive ever had eight hours sleep in a night. Its horrific.
When my best friend Pamela committed suicide back in December 2010, I was so grief-stricken, I didnt sleep for days on end and I couldnt continue with the pantomime that I was starring in.
Every night I would lie in bed replaying everything in my mind and wondering what more I could have done to help her. These torturous feelings kept me awake all day and all night.
It got so bad that I didnt sleep for three days in a row. I was delirious and started having hallucinations as well.
I remember hiding upstairs when people rang at the door. I didnt want to see anyone.
My mum was that worried that she came close to getting me admitted to hospital but I didnt want to go.
With her love and support I started to get better and when I landed a part in Casualty and two theatre roles, it gave me something to focus on.
But it didnt mean my insomnia is or has been cured.
I have been to various doctors about my chronic sleep pattern and they always ask if I am either stressed or depressed because those are two of the main causes of insomnia. But Im neither!
Their solution was to give me sleeping tablets but I dont like the thought of being sedated because thats not solving the problem.
Ever since I was a baby I havent slept. My mum said she would talk to other mothers to compare sleeping patterns and she was the only one with the baby who was constantly awake.
As a little girl, I remember mum going to bed around 11pm and I would then get up and start playing with my dolls and I would still be up early the following morning!
Over the years I have tried everything to improve my quality of sleep, including trying all the obvious wind-down techniques from having a hot bath and a milky drink to always going to bed at the same time.
But Ill still lie in bed for hours worrying about not being able to fall asleep, which just makes the problem worse.
One of the other causes of insomnia is having too many stimulants, but I dont smoke and I dont drink coffee and I hate the taste of alcohol, so I can rule that out.
However, I do like my fizzy drinks and I love any kind of sweets. I used to have two cans of Coke and a packet of Skittles a day but I've cut all of that out, too.
When I was a contestant on Dancing on Ice for four months in 2010, I had the best night's sleep I've ever had. Because my body was so tired and exhausted from the physical activity, it made getting to sleep easier. I was getting up at 6am to train at the rink, too.
But when it stopped it was horrific trying to get to sleep. I still had had the adrenaline and excitement in my system but the cardio had stopped.
Now I power-walk everywhere. I go out jogging and I am learning martial arts after I was attacked on a train. It was a terrifying experience and that hasn't helped my sleep either.
The only thing I can think of that is not helping my insomnia is that I don't have a regular bedtime schedule - it's pretty impossible as an actress.
Sometimes I might be up at 5am, as I was when I was filming parts in Casualty and Waterloo Road recently. At other times, if I am in a play, I'll be on stage until 10.30pm, and when I come off stage, the adrenaline is surging through me and it takes me a few hours to wind down.
For some reason the lack of sleep doesn't affect my memory when it comes to learning lines but I've become so clumsy.
The other week I was on Daybreak and I was so tired before I went on I managed to clamp the inner part of my arm with my hair straighteners and ended up in A&E having a dressing put on the burn.
The next morning I woke up and missed the bottom four stairs in my house and hurt the same arm. My mum came running in from the kitchen and said: "You are a walking disaster!" But you can't function properly when you don't have your sleep.
I have been advised by a friend who is a sleep expert to cook all my own food, cut out any flavours and E numbers from my diet and to have regular massages - and it is helping!
I had a massage at Champneys the other week and they gave me this pillow mist spray with the same oils in that I had for my massage.
Now when I'm staying in different hotels, I spray it on my pillow as it helps me to relax and I find I can fall asleep with an hour rather than three.
The irony is that when I do fall asleep, I go into such a deep slumber I feel like I've been knocked out by a sledgehammer and it's really hard to wake myself up!"
What is insomnia and how to treat it Insomnia sufferers have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and insufficient sleep leaves them with an inability to cope.
Psychologist Marisa Peer says: "Without sleep we become emotional, we can't cope or function and are more prone to giving up. Symptoms include irritability, poor concentration and memory, clumsiness and an inability to perform tasks to the extent that people affected should not drive, operate machinery or be in charge of young children.
"Without sleep we can hallucinate and feel like we're drunk or drugged - we are not fully in control of our body functions or mental faculties." So what does Marisa recommend in order to get a good night's sleep? The answer is to train your body to sleep normally.
"Remove all electrical appliances from the bedroom.
Then, when you go to bed roll your eyes up, then close the lids down as this puts you into an alpha brainwave - the one you get when you are truly asleep. Lie still as immobility brings on sleep and don't try too hard, let sleep come to you. Use relaxing oils on your pillow and don't drink too much before bedtime so you don't need to go to the toilet."
How Roxanne Pallett Didn’t Sleep for Three Days
oh poor little dear!
I went 2 solid weeks without a single minute of sleep when I had insomnia (before getting a prescription for pills), and the 3 months leading up to that I was getting 2 hours or less per night.
“I have been to various doctors about my chronic sleep pattern and they always ask if I am either stressed or depressed because those are two of the main causes of insomnia. But Im neither!”
Then she says...
“I can lie awake for three or four hours at a time and my mind is racing.”
“When my best friend Pamela committed suicide back in December 2010, I was so grief-stricken, I didnt sleep for days on end and I couldnt continue with the pantomime that I was starring in.”
“Every night I would lie in bed replaying everything in my mind and wondering what more I could have done to help her. These torturous feelings kept me awake all day and all night.”
“But Ill still lie in bed for hours worrying about not being able to fall asleep, which just makes the problem worse.”
“...I am learning martial arts after I was attacked on a train. It was a terrifying experience and that hasn’t helped my sleep either.”
And she’s not stressed?
One thing I do is pick a category (like “countries” or makers of products like beer, cars or types of plants, etc) and make myself go through the alphabet from A to Z, and if necessary do this several times. I think it really does help occupy my brain with nothing of significance until I finally fall asleep.
Every since I was a kid this has been true. I would need up to 11 hours a sleep until I was 18 but often stayed up until 5 AM watching shadows on the walls and making up stories in my head. Needless to say I am an artist and a productive business woman.
I’ve never had that...but...
I used to get caught in-between sleep and awake. I’d fall asleep with my eyes open. Then when I woke up, I couldn’t move. I could see, hear, and think (although the sounds were slightly muffled and the vision a little blurry) ok but I couldn’t move a muscle. It seemed like sometimes it would take an hour to wake up and sometimes I would drift back and forth from sleep to half-asleep for several hours. For the longest time I wondered if it was actually a dream.
Then one day I fell asleep on my back for just a couple minutes in a recliner with lots of people around. Then I woke up to the in-between state and I could hear and see everyone. They thought I was awake because my eyes were open. When they wondered if I was asleep(because I wouldn’t respond) they tried to wake me. Then decided I was faking it, or messing around with them. When I finally woke up 100% I told them everything they said and did and explained to them I couldn’t move. They said I described everything exactly how it happened so that was proof I wasn’t dreaming.
Yeah but aren’t you a leap year baby that sleeps with one eye open so that’s like only 10 years isn’t it ?.....:o)
Correct on that!
My job, before I retired, I could work 30 hours or better at a stretch and sometimes got by on 15 hours of sleep a week.
Once worked 18 hours a day for 3 months with a half hour travel time to and from work to boot, that was pushing it a little even for me.
Ain't the greatest way to live, but would leave people scratching their heads, LOL.
Did make for pretty big paychecks, however.
When I had to retire my sleep schedule derailed and is still wacky. I go for days with short naps and then crash for 18 or 20 hours.
Reduce the carbs and sleep will be enhanced
It can be that easy. I know for certain
i never change my sleep pattern with the time changes, in the fall when the clocks turn back i goto bed an hour earlier and get up an hour earlier in the morning till spring
for years four hours was the most, now i get ~six
and pills? feh... they don't do squat
Man! Been there, and done that forever! Sometimes I’m in REM, and awake at the same time. The dreams are superimposed over reality. That can be tough, cuz REM ain’t always very pleasant! I’ve had friends who call me after I’d gone to sleep. I’d answer the phone, and they were convinced I’d gone crazy! One night, sleepwalking, I put chicken in a frying pan, and settled down to watch tv. The tv wasn’t on, so I wonder what program I was watching! Didn’t wake up until I started choking on the smoke! Ambien. Had to re-do the whole first floor due to smoke damage!
Studies have shown nurses, cops, firefighters, etc. who work midnight to 8 AM shift can become mildly psychotic after a couple months. I know this to be a fact...
A few years ago I had trouble sleeping, working a few overnights a week with a growing family, didn’t help, plus a bout of anxiety and depression. It was not a good time, the lack of sleep increased my moodiness. I tried meditation and while some live classes were great relaxing meditations, I couldn’t find a cd with one that I liked. Then I tried listening to a cd of ocean waves at bed time. I did this consistently and after a while it started to help me drift off to sleep. Now several years later, all it takes is a few minutes of hearing my ocean cd and I am out like a light.