Monday, September 16, 2013

Has Anyone Seen The Sandman?

For me cats on the bed are much like snakes on a plane - best not.

Oh he is a wily one; giving the Roadrunner, Will o' the Wisp and the Candyman  a run  for their money.


My regular waking hours are 3.00am or  5.00am, though last week there was a hideous 1.00am awakening - I am however  nothing but generous and love to share my insomnia with hubs:
"I can't sleep" push, push, I said "I can't sleep."
"Are you listening?" 
Eventually I get a begrudged, " No, because I'm sleeping, or at least I was."
I then rise, bang some cymbals, do a little light drumming practice, then boil the kettle whilst shouting "I'm making coffee do you want one, since you're getting up to keep me company?"
(I'm a fast metaboliser of caffeine)
Napoleon may have said that a man needs six hours sleep, a woman seven and a fool eight,  clearly I'm half the man Napoleon was as I'm currently surviving on three. In an attempt to assuage myself of the thought that I'm going to age prematurely and slowly go insane with sleep deprivation I've been doing some light research.

It seems that while we are at our best on seven to eight hours sleep a night, we don’t necessarily need them consecutively.

The warm and languid eight-hour trip onboard the Slumberland Express is a relatively new development for mankind, who until the late 18th century enjoyed two bouts of sleep, each of roughly four hours but broken up by a period of an hour or two of wakefulness to be spent smoking, reading, praying or – for the saucy  French at least –making love.
French doctors in the 16th century recommended that couples wishing to conceive have sex “after the first sleep” as then they were liable to “do it better”.
The two bouts of sleep was noted by Homer in The Odyssey when he wrote: “In his first sleep, call up your hardiest cheer/ Vigour and violence, and hold him there/ In spite of all his strivings to be gone.”
The two sleeps began to be fused into one in the late 18th and early 19th century when lighting systems improved, allowing people to stay up later as well as diminishing the dangers of the dark. And by 1829, medical journals were advising parents to force children to accept one extended sleep instead of two.
Perhaps those of us who wake in the middle of the night should try to embrace it as a natural time of mystery and wonder, instead of one of anxiety and dread, because you know how we all think our happiest and most optimistic thoughts at 3 a.m! Although that handsome rogue Ted Hughes certainly did. He would actually set an alarm to stir himself in the middle of the night when he would rise to write poetry as he believed at these small hours he was closer to the heart of the natural world. 
Me? I believe I am closer to being escorted off the premises by the men in the white coats. Hope they are handsome and have some Mogadon to hand.  



67 comments:

  1. I am a solid 8 hour a night girl and I feel bad when my friends or family tell me about bouts of insomnia where they either cannot fall asleep or cannot stay that way. Sleep is one of my very favorite things to do. I love it almost a much as eating. Because of some work travel I've been doing, I've had to wake up in those wee hours though and I must say I agree that it's a magical time. There's something very special about that time between night and day when it is so quiet and calm and you can think.

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    1. DF - you lucky duck, I was till I hit 48.

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  2. I am the worst sleeper in the history of the world.

    I have trouble falling asleep, I wake up all throughout the night and I always wake early.

    Frankly I am over it.

    Apparently I was a good sleeper as a baby!

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  3. Oh, good. I thought I was alone. I blame the children, but really have always been a bit of a fitful sleeper. I kind of am okay with being a bit sick (with a head cold or whatnot) as this gives me a great excuse to chug nyquil, which is an amazing non-prescription remedy that I sorely missed when I got ill in London (they didn't sell it then, not sure if they do now).

    But since I refuse to be a drug addict, I only use when I *really* need it, and accept that midnight wakings are just part of being me. Next time I wake in the wee hours, I will at least have a dram of something and toast you, my dear Tabitha. ;)

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  4. Sleep and dreams are a fascinating subject. As a young boy I was an extremely light sleeper as I thought my toychest was a favorite nocturnal hiding place of The Wicked Witch of the West from OZ. As an adult I learned to sleep through artillery barrages-outgoing. I now always go to bed with an audiobook playing and often wake in the middle of the night with the deliciously discombobulated sensation of being in one of Tolstoy's or Proust's drawing rooms or on a caper with Jeeves & Wooster.

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    1. FF: Oh I head off to sleep really easily, I think not being able to sleep would be tougher.

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    2. Dina: I don't know I never take anything, I like hitting the gym at 6.30am, even if I haven't slept I'm a an odd lark who can still get everything done by early afternoon.

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    3. GSL- I don't know how you would have gotten one wink of sleep with that going on outside.

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    4. Tabs, I could only do it when bone tired with the help of earplugs.

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  5. Oh I hear you! I am now having hot flashes at night and it is only a matter of time before I am sleeping half-naked outside, so get you fellas to pick me up on way by! I do much better without the horrendous to-do list of my old job. I also move much slower than I used to which may help. But I sure wake up a lot and try to breath and let it go. Haven't got out of bed since mice arrived - I am such a wuss!

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  6. Until the arrival of our two kids I was a very sound sleeper. I never had trouble getting a sound night's sleep at my university dormitory for example, which was at the intersection of a trans-border bridge with 500+ trucks rolling by every hour a few metres away, and a train crossing where there was a requirement to blow its horn when crossing. The cherry on top was the very active fire station 100 metres away. Now I can be awake at the drop of a pin and half way out of bed before the second hand has time to make another move.

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  7. I think I get about 5-6 hours of sleep per night. I have slept poorly since graduate school, when I would often wake in the middle of the night panicking about things yet unaccomplished in the lab. I don't think I was ever able to overcome it. Nowadays, the only way I can get some sleep is by wearing an eye mask and ear plugs - the slightest sound or bit of light wakes me up. I have been thinking of sewing in blackout material into the lining of the curtains in the bedroom. I do feel better knowing that people used to sleep in two 4-hour instalments!

    Hope you get some quality sleep soon!!

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    1. Louise, snap! I wear ear plugs and an eye mask and still wake up at the slightest thing!

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  9. After tossing and turning all night, wandering around the house I usually fall asleep at about 5.00 a.m. and only then do I get the best sleep.

    But I hate it, as all I want is a good "Night's " sleep, get up early and do all the things I want to do.

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    1. WMM- I'm sure the hot flashes are just are year or two away, mum sailed through it though without any other at all, so fingers crossed.

      Louise _ eye masks are so comforting, I love mine.

      Linda - Isn't the house so lonely at that time?

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  10. I haven't had an interrupted night's sleep for about 30 years; now I think I am simply part of the 17th century, and haven't moved on. Always up at least once, sometimes more, and frequently awake at 3.00 am. My latest discovery is that I can induce sleep to return if I turn on the electric blanket (which is there for hubs, not me, of course) - I might not be cold but something about the gentle heat relaxes the muscles and sleep returns. At least I think that's what is going on...

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  11. Fascinating! I have never heard that we used to have two sleeps, rather than one.
    I have had various periods of insomnia throughout my life. Generally it occurs after a time when I am highly stressed (not during the actual stressful event though, which is interesting), but I also had horrendous pregnancy insomnia. I used to wake around 1-3 am and could not get back to sleep. I used to just lie there, in the dark, thinking thoughts until morning. I figured at least I was resting....

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  12. Insomnia is the norm for me now. Has been for about the last 15 years. I suppose I've gotten used to it, but I hate it. God forbid I am asleep and hubs wakes me up!! But it's open season to wake him up...he just drops right back to sleep. Me? I'm up all the rest of the night. Not fair.

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  13. That's fascinating! I'd always been brought up on the 8 hours straight idea, had no idea that it could be broken up. Can you nap during the day? I can't imagine surviving on 3-4 hours only! You're a superwoman!

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    1. Ptarica - shhh I travel with my electric blanket, I love it as I'm always cold!

      Heidi - when I'm stressed I sleep like a well fed baby, it's funny.

      K: oh no, I'm not a napper at all, I only feel the lack of sleep maybe once a week when I've been up since 1.00am.

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  14. Seems you've hit upon a hot topic, familiar to many, which is reassuring, as I thought I was the only one similarly afflicted. The two phases of sleep idea is an interesting one, which I had not heard, but it doth make sense.

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  15. Two options:

    One prescribed pharmaceutical med: Trazadone.

    or in CO or decriminalized WA state, prescribed as well without any side effects except dry mouth and chip rages Cannabis sativa

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    1. http://www.leafly.com/medical/insomnia

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  16. SW- oh no, I'd never take anything for it, I function fine, just not the life and soul of the party!

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  17. I always wake around 2 every night. I don't see it as a problem, its just what I do. I had read about the two sleep thing ages ago and I just decided that my body was doing what it was supposed to do. The only annoyance my snoring husband who never wakes to keep me company.

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  18. Someone told me about this two sleeps thing recently, apparently in the UK the workers would come home from work at 4, eat tea, sleep and then wake at about 8 have something of an evening and then sleep again until sunrise. It made me feel less guilty about our debauched lifestyle in the South of France where sleep is arranged to allow for an evening meal and 11pm and dancing thereafter.

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  19. I heard about the two sleeps thing as well but in chinese medicine they believe that there is a 24 hour meridian clock where the chi passes through. So for instance when i drink alcohol, i always awake at 3ish in the morning which is why i now avoid it. At the Mayr, everyone couldn't sleep because of the chi in the relevant area passing and fixing things. But this link might explain it might than I can

    http://taoism.about.com/od/themeridiansystem/a/Meridian_Clock.htm

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    1. Love this Csw! I often give this organ cycle information to my acupuncturist whenever I have had trouble sleeping x

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    2. Oh i'm glad it didn't seem too strange for you Fifi!

      sorry once again i just ramble without qualifyiing my comment but the liver meridian kicks in at 3 am so if i drink alcohol my liver wakes me up! Hope you find it useful!

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    3. That's so interesting - I sleep terribly when I drink - often wake up at 3 or 4. V v interesting indeed about the liver meridian.

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  20. Anon - yes, I am changing how I view it too it seems the healthiest way of accepting it.

    Find Boutique - that's the one thing I can't do in the Med - eat late! It's 6pm or nada for me.

    CSW Fascinating, off for a read, thank you.

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  21. I LOVE TO SLEEP !! Although part of my new regime it to get to bed before midnight (generally unsuccessful with that one) and wake at 8 am / 8.30 am ... Although recently I have been awake between 6-8 am and then fall asleep just after 8, all very annoying. My father generally wakes during the night and will go and sit and watch the tele to help fall back asleep again. I do think everyone is different, but think that sleeping before midnight is better for you
    India xx

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    1. India I always manage two hours before mid night, that keeps me going!

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  22. I read about that two-sleeps thing and ever since I don't feel badly about being awake in the night. Sometimes we worry about not sleeping and that of course keeps us more wakeful. Much of my insomnia is due to MrBP and his insomnia, I bought a king size bed and that has helped enormously, the tossing and turning on the other side affects me less now. Lately the man is shouting out in his sleep, if I am startled awake forget it, I'm up for the rest of the night!
    I hope you get into a sleeping phase soon, it can't be very pleasant to have so little right now.

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  23. I've been a shocking insomniac on and off for years.... So it's sort of comforting to knee I'm not alone.
    I self medicated with pot when I was younger, then turned to yoga about 15 years ago, and it certainly helps a bit. I still sleep very lightly - J snores so I usually decamp to the study at night. I manage on 5 or 6 hours, usually up at 3 or so for a while.
    I used to stress a lot about not sleeping, but now try to stay cAlm and accept my light sleeping.

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    1. Dani, I think I first learned about it from you. I'm actually fine it only really affects me one day a week, I just thought it would be a good chat for everyone.

      Ruth- yes, I joke that i can hear a giant flutter its wings at night, my husband would sleep through an earthquake.

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  24. I sleep like the dead as i am permanently abs shattered - not stopping for one minute in the day - barr my lunch time internet - clearly! You have my commiserations when life is very stressy i have v bad dreams and that vv early morning awaking - it is completely debilitating x

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  25. My favorite author (Diana Gabaldon) has two sleeps and I always thought it was strange until reading this. It makes so much sense!

    I can sleep for a straight ten hours, so I am clearly a fool's fool.

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  26. F& F, when I'm really stressed I sleep for 8 hours, it's as if my body demands it for survival, when I'm ok, nop, no sleep!

    Tiffany - you're young, I slept soundly until 18 months ago.

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  27. I think you are wise to accept this pattern; if you worry too much about it, you have sleep anxiety. Even worse for sleep. MLane is a poor sleeper; he solves the problems of the world between 1 and 3 am.

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  28. Tabitha, I sympathize. I am a terrible sleeper. Age is definitely a contributing factor, but lately I've noticed that any caffeine-including chocolate, any salt, and red wine all have the "espressso effect" on me. Any other spirits- well, as you say- I fall asleep easily then wake up fitfully and can not go back to sleep. Apparently it has to do with the dehydrating effects of alcohol in the blood stream. A fan helps too. The white noise is very soothing. Sleep tight!

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  29. I too have a hard time sleeping...I like the history behind "two sleeps" - it makes my middle of the night awakening seem more palatable.

    Have a lovely Monday and get some rest! xoxo

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  30. I used to have periodic bouts of insomnia. You might like to check out Thesleepschool.org. It is a drug free method based on Acceptance and commitment Therapy. I am now sleeping much better.

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  31. Ahh, probably perimenopausal insomnia. I have it too. I was getting only 2-3 hours of sleep but then did some reading on perimenopause. I learned that eliminating caffeine, alcohol, and added sugars helps to calm the raging hormones. So I've bit the bullet and eliminated those things and also added key supplements like vitamin E, C, B complex, zinc, and black currant oil. It took about a month before things straigtened out, and now I'm happy to report that I get on average 6.5 hours of sleep. I'd love to get 7 or 8 but beggars can't be choosers.

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  32. Knit Yarns, I only drink at the weekend, so no correlation for me there, alas but I think age/change in hormones has a lot to do with it.

    Lane : he is like the Pope with that little light on all night!

    Chic - will do thank you.

    Joni - I am pretty sure that's what it is, that's great that you are getting 6.5 hours a night now.

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  33. I don't know but maybe decaf tea at 1.00 am might be a better choice than coffee. You may have changed a little.

    When I put a slice of lemon in plain tea it doesn't stain the cup. I hope the same goes for my teeth. I like milk and sugar but sometimes I like to avoid coating my teeth with sugar. I love my little brown betty with her little cozy. I want to buy every cute tea cup and coffee mug I see but I stop myself. I like everything from blue speckled enamel camping mugs to fine gold-trimmed bone china. It's fun to have social time with coffee or curl up all alone on a sofa with a steaming mug of tea.

    The weather is changing that's for sure.


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    1. No, my genes put me down as a fast metaboliser of coffee, and I am, it doesn't keep me awake at all. Ugh I love hot water and lemon and I drank it for years but it stripped the enamel from my teeth and now my dentist has banned it!
      Cute mugs? Check out Fortnums new chinoiserie mugs, so lovely.
      Oh we are in the heart of autumn, lots of fallen leaves already.

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  34. I am too old to mention and and in the throes of two sleeps. While I happily slept for seven to eight hours for most of my life I
    now unhappily wake up in the middle of the night and watch Masterpiece
    Theater and then fall back to sleep, to dream.

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  35. I wouldn't be surprised if your recent trauma might be still making its way through your neurons. I woke up like crazy in the night, all through the divorce. Recently I've been sleeping 8 hours no prob. Perhaps it's just a coincidence.

    xoxox

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  36. Read the article on the two sleeps. That's what I do. If I go to bed early, then I awaken around 2 and read for a couple of hours and go back to sleep. If I stay up till 2, I awaken around 5 and read for a couple of hours and go back to sleep. I like it.

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    1. Also highly recommend cats in bed...very soothing...

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    2. Also highly recommend cats in bed...very soothing...

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  37. I thought I was the only 3am cofee imbiber ! nice to meet a fellow crazy (as some would say)

    The worst about the 3am wake up is of course the dark thoughts . I often wake up because the cat is ontop of me..no dont look like Audreyin bed and my cat is grey

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  38. Sorry you are going through insomnia. Reading or watching movies will get me back to sleep in no time.

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  39. Insomnia is NOT fun. Best Beloved has dreadful sleep patterns and it makes him very crabby. But you don't want to meet Neil Gaiman's Sandman. That's quite a dark series of comic books.

    Hope that this is only a short term hiccup and full nights of sleep await both of you...

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  40. I wish I needed less sleep, as its eight or nine hours for me. Unfortunately I could sleep through almost anything, and keep two alarm clocks. Now I've got Metallica in my head.....Enter Sandman......

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  41. Oh for an uninterrupted night's sleep. My bladder wakes me at least 3 times a night, as well as our 9 year old who is still a regular visitor to our bed.

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  42. drugs my friend, drugs........the only way to a sound slumber!

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  43. I never knew about this two sleeps, I couldn't do it I need my 8hours. For work anyway, funny how when I'm off work I can cope with far less really easily?!

    Lauren
    livinginaboxx

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  44. I guess I should be glad I was born in this century because I need my 7-8 hours of sleep. Want to see a cranky lady - wake me up early, haha.

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  45. I require a minimum of 8 hours of uninterrupted beauty ( I use that loosely)sleep , especially without an afternoon nap, else I turn into a vicious grump and spend the whole day at work fantising about how soon I can go back to bed!

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  46. I require a minimum of 8 hours of uninterrupted beauty ( I use that loosely)sleep , especially without an afternoon nap, else I turn into a vicious grump and spend the whole day at work fantising about how soon I can go back to bed!

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  47. I routinely wake up between 3 am and 4 am, and have difficulty getting back to a deep, restful sleep, as I fidget in bed conjuring up thing to do, and wishing there were things that I hadn't done. About a year ago I discovered taking a 25 mg dose of Xanax does the trick, and off I drift within minutes. And, unlike horrible Ambien, I wake refreshed and without a hangover (at least not one from Xanax -- booze is another story). Reggie

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  48. Well I hope you're getting your sleep...I have never heard of the two sleeps and I did not know about the eight hours...well...I need 8 hours, so there there you have it.

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  49. Hi Tabitha, hope you're sleeping better by now. Early morning waking is sometimes a sign of depression, but I think in your case it's probably just that you're so wired with everything going on that you're sleeping the bare minimum and then your adrenaline is kicking in to help you fight or run away.

    When I was working on ITU some of the consultants used melatonin to try to regulate people's sleep-wake cycle. The evidence is out (and anyway you can't buy it in this country), but lots of people I know (including me!) find 5HTP helpful. It is a precursor to serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin, and anyway good stuff to have on board! You can buy it from H&B, although check with a doctor if you are taking any other medication. Good "sleep hygiene" (a hateful term) - not using computers close to bedtime, having a warm bath, reading in bed, chamomile tea (if you don't mind the taste - I love it) etc - are worth doing too. And ideally avoid alcohol.

    Sorry to be all doctorish but hope it might be helpful! Not sleeping is miserable.

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    1. Oh thank you, I don't take any medication or drink during the week, this is a long term thing for me, I actually sleep really well when stressed or anxious!

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