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Anne - Interview 14

Age at interview: 73
Brief Outline: Anne is a retired Education Adviser, but is still working part-time writing a book. Anne likes to play golf at least once a week, but has recently had some injuries which have prevented this. She also likes to keep active by walking. Anne finds she now wakes up early in the morning and would very much like to be able to sleep in for longer.
Background: Married, 2 children, retired Education Advisor

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Anne has retired from her full time post as Education Adviser and has been working on writing a book due to be published July 2009. In the past she has been a Deputy Head Teacher. Anne has found that she now sleeps less well and for less time than she used to when she was younger. Although Anne finds she only sleeps for about 5 hours a night, she isn’t too concerned about this as long as she can function during the day, and do the things she needs to do. Worst of all, if Anne wakes up at about 4 am she finds she can’t get back to sleep, and feels that if she can get through to 5 am, this is a good night.

 
Anne doesn’t like to sleep at all during the day, and if she finds herself nodding off is very likely to get up and do something more active, although if she has been busy during the day and starts to doze in the evening she finds this more acceptable.
 
Anne also finds that she sleeps better when she is away, probably because there is less structure to her day and she doesn’t feel she has to get up and get on with things.
 

Anne falls off to sleep okay, but then will wake up in the middle of the night.

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Anne falls off to sleep okay, but then will wake up in the middle of the night.

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What I do is start by asking people just to give me a snapshot as it were, a kind of description of what a typical night’s sleep is for you at the moment. If you could just sort of tell me how your sleep is?
 
Okay more often than not I get very sleepy. I do the Telegraph crossword that is how I wind down. In bed, you know, when I’m ready to go to bed. And if I can get sleepy when I’m doing it then I do go to sleep quite quickly, but I will then wake up again. Usually in the middle of the night, and I know instantly if I’m going to be able to go back to sleep again. Sometimes I’ll get up and go to the bathroom in order to go back and get sleepy quickly.
 
But if I wake up after 4 o’clock in the morning or about 4 which I often do. No chance of going back to sleep again then. If I’ve slept till five, that’s a good night and that’s a normal night. It's very rare that I would be asleep beyond five and because we don’t want to get up at that hour, I try to doze off again. I usually succeed in dozing off about ten minutes before my husband makes the tea. So I’m in the middle of a dream when he brings the tea in.
 
And what time is that?
 
No later than six. But these lighter mornings if it’s been quite bright, we usually have the tea about quarter to six.
 
So you have your tea in bed?
 
Yes. 
 
 

Anne remembers there was a bedtime and wake up routine in her home and has fond memories of her...

Anne remembers there was a bedtime and wake up routine in her home and has fond memories of her...

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I’m sure I slept well as a child. And I also have a clear memory of being a young teenager and my Dad waking me up mid morning at the weekend and saying it's eleven o’clock. But because I married at 20 I wasn’t in that environment really long enough, oh and of course before that I was working for the [organisation] and so I had to get up early to go to work and I used to …I didn’t work shifts in the night time thing. But I worked Saturdays and Sundays and from that point onwards I don’t ever remember needing to be awakened in the morning.
 
So that was when you went to do the shifts, you weren’t doing shifts, when you went to work for the [organisation]?
 
Well when I was working weekends, because it was only at the weekend that Dad would have brought the tea in you see. I don’t remember whether it was a Saturday or a Sunday. Probably a Sunday. But I just have these odd clear memories of him coming in with a cup of tea and telling me what the time was.
 
Time to get up. And did you have routine. Even when you were a little girl can you remember if there was a routine around bed times and get up times?
 
We always had a regular routine when we were young children. I have got a younger sister, two years younger, so we always went to bed at the same time and we were always in the same room and that kind of thing. And certainly while we lived in Yorkshire when Dad was not away working, he always used to come and do our prayers with us, you know, we always used to have him. It was always Dad I remember, who always came and put the light out and had the routine at Christmas with the light bulbs and things.
 
I don’t remember not going to sleep then. I’m sure we slept like logs. And again you know, as children we were very outdoor active that kind of thing.
 

Anne’s memories of the war include sleeping in an air raid shelter and of her mother rushing out...

Anne’s memories of the war include sleeping in an air raid shelter and of her mother rushing out...

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My memories of the war are usually what fun a lot of it was, as a child and the night time is because our house had a cellar, a big cellar, and we were designated as the road's air raid shelter. And although living in Yorkshire we didn’t have the bombing that everybody down here did, we did have some and there was damage and so a lot of the time, we and some of the neighbours and obviously their kids were in our shelter. It was more fun than anything. I am sure there must have been times when we actually went to sleep there. But, because I only remember the waking times. And there was one particular night when we were being bombed nearby and my Mother, this is a you know, family tale that we’ve heard so many times, it is not just my own memory, it is everybody telling this tale, this bomb, my Mother was convinced had hit our house, so being the woman she was she charges out of the shelter, up the steps, that’s us she said. I’ve got to go and see to it. And my Father saying you can’t go'. 'Oh yes, I can'.
 
In the middle of an air raid?
 
Yes. So she goes off and then she came back and she said well actually we haven’t been hit it's further down the road!
 
That was all right.
 
Well they were both air raid wardens or whatever, so you know, they obviously took over. But it was just so funny that anybody else, you know, like me probably would have cowered under the furniture but she had to get out there and deal with it!
 

Anne has read somewhere that as long as you have blocks of good quality sleep that last two hours...

Anne has read somewhere that as long as you have blocks of good quality sleep that last two hours...

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So if I said to you tonight you will have a perfect night’s sleep can you describe what that might be?
 
Going to sleep without a struggle and waking up knowing that I haven’t been awake earlier in the night.
 
So sleep right the way through?
 
Yes.
 
And is there a time period when it would take place a length it would be?
 
It takes me by surprise, like this morning.
 
What do you mean by that then?
 
I was surprised when it was as late as quarter to six that I looked at the clock.
 
So a perfect night’s sleep would take you by surprise?
 
Sleeping uninterruptedly. Because even waking up, I have gone, you know, a lot of the times I go back to sleep again. I suppose occasionally something has woken us up, but that would be far less often then we have woken ourselves up. The other thing we are aware of, is that if one gets up and goes to the loo, the other one’s immediately awake. So we’re not sleeping very deeply some of the time.
 
What would your perfect length of sleep be?
 
Well I am aware that you need at least two hours in a block for quality sleep.
 
Oh right. Where did you hear that from?
 
Don’t know. I have known it for years. I must have read it in a few places. But you know, once you’re properly asleep it’s a two hour slot that is actually doing you any good, so I suppose subconsciously I don’t care if I’ve had at least two hours sleep.
 
So you would be quite happy, a perfect night would be if it was a good deep sleep to be two hours. Is that what you mean?
 
Yes. If it wasn’t every night. I am sure I need more than that on a more regular basis. 
 

Anne and her husband never set their alarms, no matter what time they need to get up because they...

Anne and her husband never set their alarms, no matter what time they need to get up because they...

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Well we’ve got alarms but, and this is the absolute truth, we never need to set it unless we’ve got to leave at three or four in the morning to catch an aircraft and the other strange thing is that wherever we’ve been in the world. Whatever the time clock, we wake up at the same time locally as we would here.
 
Okay so even if you were in America you would wake up at the equivalent of what would be 6 o’clockish here?
 
Exactly.
 
So you’re not reset your clock?
 
No.
 
How extraordinary.
 
And because we both realise we are doing this independently it isn’t a kind of trick or something, you know. My husband never sets the alarm if he’s got to get up at a particular time. Even if I say well shouldn’t you do it just in case. Don’t need to he will say.
 
And he always wakes up?
 
Yes.
 
And you said if it was 3 or 4 in the morning, what happens if they needed to have a variation from 6, say 5, or 7. Would you automatically wake up?
 
Well that’s when we’d set the alarm for safety but I can’t remember a time when either of us have needed to listen for the alarm to get up and catch a plane. We are sort of half there. And probably don’t really switch off if we know we are getting up as quickly as that.
 
That’s interesting. If you’ve got a deadline in the time you have to get up are you aware that it impacts on your sleep. Say you are worried about missing that…?
 
Well I think that’s why I always want him to set the alarm. But I think in general we are not worrying about it. We both are always saying to other people when we discuss this with friends, we wish we could sleep later.
 

Anne can’t sleep when her husband has the light on to read, unless she is very sleepy.

Anne can’t sleep when her husband has the light on to read, unless she is very sleepy.

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Okay so you’ll go up to bed and make preparations for bed, and then you are doing your crossword?
 
Hm, and he’s reading his library book.
 
Okay.
 
So he might have gone to sleep before I do. He always says it doesn’t matter if I’ve still got the light on. But if he’s still got the light on, I can’t sleep. So if I’m nice and sleepy that’s all right.
 
So ideally you'd like, you’re happy to carry on doing the crossword and have his light out but not the other way round, so you can get to sleep?
 
Yes.
 
And then how long did you say it takes you to get to sleep?
 
Well if I’m sleepy quite quickly, but if I have to put the light out, either because it is very late when we’ve gone to bed and by that I mean we’ve been out to friends and it might be midnight and I’m wide awake if we’ve been out.  
 

Anne and her husband find they get too hot if they don’t sleep with a lightweight duvet, even in...

Anne and her husband find they get too hot if they don’t sleep with a lightweight duvet, even in...

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It does get a bit hot in our bedroom as well and neither of us like being hot, I mean we are very lucky that we both like the same things. So even in the winter we use the summer duvet, a very, very thin summer duvet and in the summer we can’t even stand the duvet a lot of the time so when we had that spell a couple of weeks ago we just had a sheet and I will occasionally put a blanket over the sheets. But we are always warmer than other people I think.
 

Anne, who usually likes to get up early and get on with things, may stay in bed a bit longer if...

Anne, who usually likes to get up early and get on with things, may stay in bed a bit longer if...

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If you’ve got a deadline in the time you have to get up are you aware that it impacts on your sleep. Say you are worried about missing that …?
 
Well I think that’s why I always want him to set the alarm. But I think in general we are not worrying about it. We both are always saying to other people when we discuss this with friends, we wish we could sleep later.
 
You do?
 
Yes.
 
What would be an ideal time for you to sleep till?
 
Like the rest of the world, sevenish I suppose.
 
But then you said you stay in bed for a little. Well you stay in bed for a little while when your husband’s playing golf, but if he’s not would you both stay in bed for a bit longer?
 
I can’t imagine wanting to just lie around in bed waiting for a bit later to arrive.
 
So a sense that you have to get up and get on with things?
 
Yes. I mentioned to you the friend who can sleep the clock round and who is a night owl really. It really frustrates me that by the time she’s sort of ready to see me if we are free and we are getting together, I’ve already been up and doing things for at least four hours and I can’t imagine wanting to waste those four hours.
 
Is that how you see it as wasting time?
 
Yes. There is so much to do.
 
So you get up and get on with things straight away?
 
Yes. First I walk down here, unlock the front door and turn the computer on. That’s my routine. My husband has already been down, remember, earlier to make to the tea and he may have already gone out. If not he might be still in the bathroom. And then probably put the washing on. Various other things. When breakfast is over then there’ll be the day's activities to prepare for or whatever.
 

When her teenage son was out at night, Anne used to lay awake until she heard him come home.

When her teenage son was out at night, Anne used to lay awake until she heard him come home.

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Yes. So what about teenagers? How were they then? Did they keep you awake at night?
 
Teenagers. I remember not being able to sleep until my son was home at the kind of vulnerable teenage stage. The worst year was the year we bought this house because he was 18 I think then, and obviously totally independent. And he only was here for a year. Is that right? Anyway I might have lost a bit of time somewhere there, and I used to worry until I heard him come in at night. I had no real reason to worry about him but he was in a car and I would just think 'oh what could have happened to him' and so as soon as I heard the car door or something I would be able to go to sleep. But I’m sure that’s normal.
 

When Anne’s son was a teenager she used to not be able to sleep until she heard him come home...

When Anne’s son was a teenager she used to not be able to sleep until she heard him come home...

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So what about teenagers. How were they then. Did they keep you awake at night?
 
Teenagers. I remember not being able to sleep until my son was home at the kind of vulnerable teenage stage. The worst year was the year we bought this house because he was 18 I think then, and obviously totally independent. And he only was here for a year. Is that right? Anyway I might have lost a bit of time somewhere there, and I used to worry until I heard him come in at night. I had no real reason to worry about him but he was in a car and I would just think 'oh what could have happened to him' and so as soon as I heard the car door or something I would be able to go to sleep. But I’m sure that’s normal.
 
Yes that’s very normal. And you were working as well at the time presumably?
 
Yes.
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