A-Z

William - Interview 38

Age at interview: 78
Brief Outline: William lives with his partner and has been retired for about 14 years. He likes to keep active by swimming four days a week and going to a gym class one day a week. He also attends art classes and is a member of a local literature club. William has noticed a change in his sleep over the last couple of years in that he finds he is having very vivid and sometimes difficult dreams. He notices he also has to get up now in the night because of cramp or to go to the toilet, which he never used to do.
Background: William lives with his partner. He has two children and is a retired Chartered Architect.

More about me...

William sets his alarm for about seven every morning during the week to go swimming or to go to the gym. Sometimes if he forgets to set his alarm he may sleep through it. William has noticed in the last two years that he is dreaming a lot more and that his dreams are very vivid. They seem to be full of tensions and frustrations where he has tasks to do but cannot achieve them. William has also noticed that if he wakes up in the middle of a dream, when he goes back to sleep he goes straight back into the same dream again.

 
William also suffers from cramp which is sometimes so painful that he has to get up and walk around. He has some medication for this, but is reluctant to take it all the time because he doesn’t suffer from cramp every night. William also has to sleep with a wedge and two pillows because of health problems and often takes these away with him.
 
Sometimes after he has been swimming in the morning, William will take the paper into his garden room, which is warm and comfortable, and he finds he may drop off to sleep again for up to an hour. He would rather not do this, but believes it happens because his body needs the sleep.
 

William recalls having to get out of bed and go down to their cellar during air raids, and...

William recalls having to get out of bed and go down to their cellar during air raids, and...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
When I was, the war started when I was ten and my Father was in the army away. So I was essentially just my Mother and I and over six years we became very close, you know, not Mother and son, so much as sort of companions although I was naïve at ten. But by the time I was at the end of the war I was 16, so I was just about becoming a young man if you like and of course the war experiences and what have you made you grow up and…
 
Where were you living at the time?
 
In Kent. Saw all the Battle of Britain fantastic. I thought it was, of course I was only ten eleven. Old enough not to be frightened and young enough not to realise how bloody dangerous it was.
 
Yes, so you were aware of the blitz and the bombing?
 
Oh well certainly we had some bombing in [Town], but we certainly saw the blitz because when they were hitting London in '41, '42, [Town], is only 35 miles away and the whole the sky. We used to stand at the bedroom windows and you could see all the, looking West, the whole sky lit up, which must have been the glow from round over the world, you know, with the curvature of the earth is that much so you weren’t seeing the actual London fire you were seeing the glow of several hundreds of feet up, you know, on the horizon, unbelievable, and of course it was all censored anyway, you only knew that London was being bombed. I mean we learnt more post war seeing the television than you actually knew when you saw it.
 
So you experienced the blackout?
 
Oh yes, yes.
 
And how was that at night time?
 
Well I was young enough really not to, you’re invulnerable, you know, nothing happens to you. But I was concerned, I remember you putting it like that, I haven’t thought about this for ages. My mother was terribly frightened, but she was, I thought she was frightened because of me. She was frightened that something would happen to me, which she obviously did, but she was a woman that was on her own and was frightened.
 
So did she have to pick you up, or did she have to wake you up and take you down to air raid shelters?
 
No, well yes, several times when the siren went we used to, well we didn’t have an air raid shelter. We had a house that had a cellar and I remember sitting on the cellar steps she and I, you know, with blankets round us when you could hear bombs dropping but as I say [Town], wasn’t being bombed, it was aircraft coming back and they'd turn around at the chaps would say 'I am not going into that lot' and the Germans sort of turned round and just dropped them where they liked so as to get rid of so that if they got home they didn’t turn up with a load of bombs for them to say well where have you been bombing.
 

William can fall asleep after his breakfast, especially if he has been for an early morning swim.

William can fall asleep after his breakfast, especially if he has been for an early morning swim.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well we got this garden room and it gets nice and warm. I come back from swimming and [my wife] might be out, or she’s in the baths anyway, but later than me. Or sometimes we sit here doing something and I will take my breakfast out there with the paper and then she says ‘well, I’m going down so and so’ or she’s not here. She’s gone and I am reading the paper and then I look at my watch and its eleven and what has happened is that I’ve fallen asleep at quarter to ten or ten o’clock and I’ve slept, you know, I’ve gone off. But it’s lovely and cosy in there and of course there’s not any breeze or anything, so it’s the worst place to sit if you are sleepy and I’ve been up for three hours you know.
 
So how do you feel about then how you were sleeping then?
 
Well I often, I mean I look at it, I obviously needed the sleep. But I am annoyed that now I am at eleven o’clock and I was going to do so and so. And now, that’s the point.
 
So you would rather not do it if you could avoid it?
 
That’s right, but of course all I need do is sit in here and not sit in the nice atmosphere and read the paper.
 
So do you think subconsciously you know that if you go in there…?
 
I will, Yes. That’s where I fall asleep.
 

William relies on his alarm to get him up in the morning for his early swim, but would otherwise...

William relies on his alarm to get him up in the morning for his early swim, but would otherwise...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean overall night for you to get up in the morning what time do you get up?
 
Oh I get up in the morning well I have a routine. I have an alarm and I must be asleep because I’m woken up by the alarm.
 
The alarm wakes you up?
 
Although I’m coming round. You know, your body gets used to the time, somehow I suppose. But I’m not reliable without the alarm because several times when I’ve forgotten to press it to make it live in the evening. I have woken up because I’ve overslept and I look at the clock and I’ve missed, because I go early morning swimming.
 
Oh right.
 
And so I just get up at quarter to seven. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, but on, unless there’s a problem on Wednesday I don’t do swimming I got to the cardiac gym class. And that doesn’t start until an hour later. So I have an extra half an hour so I change the alarm and I wake up on the alarm, the alarm goes just the right time. In other words, although I get up quarter to seven pretty well every morning, I don’t get up at quarter to seven unless the alarm goes. And there if it is a quarter past seven I get up and of course on the weekends I don’t get up as early as that. But you automatically I would say we wake up about eight. If I was left there, Saturday morning. Unless we are going somewhere then we set the alarm again and neither of us will wake up if we don’t have the alarm. In other words, if you left us there, we’d sleep, well we wouldn’t sleep forever, but you would just go on sleeping.
 
So you are getting about, on the days when the alarm goes, you are in bed for about eight hours. How much of that would you say actually is sleep?
 
Well I go off to sleep very quickly. Or I think I do. And I must do. Yes. I mean if I set the alarm, I read, I look at the alarm clock and put the book down and with means I am not aware of myself or as I say I don’t lie there or anything like that I have literally gone out. Last night, we always have friends round on Thursday and we were chatting away here and they are supposed to go by eleven and they went out the door at quarter to twelve. Well I just went up, and it was a miracle that I actually got in the bed before I was asleep, that sort of thing. But in terms of a natural waking without an alarm on the weekends I would come round by eight. Then you might realise that you’ve nothing particularly to get up for and [my partner] is fast asleep and so I’ll just doze and sometimes I just go straight off again and then [my partner] will get up and come down and make coffee and then come back and say aren’t you getting, you know, so it varies but I would say that if we have no alarm our natural waking is between eight or half past eight. 
 

If William has been mentally active, such as reading a challenging book, he will dream a lot more.

If William has been mentally active, such as reading a challenging book, he will dream a lot more.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But does your sleep overall seem better for being more active or less active and more relaxed?
 
I have not consciously looked at that really. Certainly if I overdo it, or I’ve had a strenuous day for some reason or other, you know, most of the days are more or less the same, different details, but its early morning, swimming, breakfast, painting, going out, with whatever or not going out shopping. There’s a pattern. And some evenings we always go to bed as I say quarter to. Well I do quarter to eleven. Some days are more active. Well gardening for instance. [My partner] is a great gardener but there is a fetching and carrying element and like trimming that hedge and if I do that. Ten years ago I could go for eight hours now if I do two hours I’m absolutely knocked out and that makes a difference. I’m physically so tired that I just sleep right through the night.
 
So it is definitely linked to how active you are during the day you think?
 
Yes, yes, I suppose you could draw that conclusion. But if, I belong to a literature class, and we are in recess at the moment, but when we go into the Autumn months we are reading some, I do read a fair amount but because this is organised and you’re working to a time table you know, you have got to stand up and talk about it. You have to, if you get behind with your reading, then you have to read and quite often I spend, you know, about four hours wading my way, enjoying it, but I do much more reading, of a specific thing when that’s happening. And I tend to start dreaming when I go to bed after those sort of days and it might be that I'm, mentally I’m full of what’s been said and the story line and all this sort of business, whereas when you’re clipping hedges and what have you, you are just worn out and you know, you just sleep, sleep of the just. I haven’t thought about it like that. But there is a slight pattern. 
 

If William wakes up because of pain or needing to go to the toilet, he often slips back into the...

If William wakes up because of pain or needing to go to the toilet, he often slips back into the...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well a typical night’s sleep. I usually go to bed not really before eleven, and not much after quarter to twelve is the latest really I would say, and depending on what sort of day I’ve had I am asleep within ten minutes or if it's been more relaxing, I might read for quarter of an hour and put the book down and I’m away. And as far as I’m aware I don’t know when I start dreaming, because the beginning of the night is a complete blank sort of disc. In other words I’m not aware of anything whatsoever, but then you become aware of something or other. You, I mean its automatically oneself I suppose. And it could be, well it could be before four or it could be before six, because what happens round about four, five or six, I come around because I need to go to the loo, or I get cramp in my left calf. And so it just brings me round either with the pain one way or the other and I’ll get out of bed and try and push the table the dressing table out of the window or I go to the loo. Then I come back again and it seems to pick up where I left off before, not exactly but I’m in to the story line if there is, and I don’t think this happens every night. I wouldn’t swear to it, but we might find that out if I have to write it down. But because I remember it, it seems as if its every night, but we’ll see how that pans out. It's always, it's not fear, it’s not a fearful situation, but I am concerned and anxious about something and I should be doing something about and I can’t for the life of me focus my mind on what I’m going to do about it because I am so busy being able to get out of the door to start doing something. So I never get to the problem itself. And the environment, like last night for instance I was on a train, but there was nobody in the carriage and yet I was somehow connected with people or I wanted, I needed to get off to do something else because that was where the problem was. And it never resolves itself. Whether I drift off and it goes or comes up. It seems to be continuous except that it doesn’t develop. And then as I say I get the cramp and I come round, you know, something brings me into a different level of consciousness and I’m back in the world. 
 
 

William dreams more when he is stressed, and his dreams are full of frustrations and tensions, so...

William dreams more when he is stressed, and his dreams are full of frustrations and tensions, so...

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I’m in the train but it’s all slightly different and it never resolves itself and that is what I can remember from last night. I mean it was much more detailed except that I can’t remember the stuff. Or I can be on a boat or the weather turns bad and I’m having to do something, but before I can do it I have got to get out of wherever I am in order to do something. Or switch something on to tell somebody that we’re in trouble, but I can’t get the damn thing to switch on. It's sort of petty frustrations, yes. And I can’t recall anything being terrifying. But I wouldn’t swear to it. Every now and again I get a vague feeling that I’m connected with some work that I’ve done. I vaguely recognise a series of buildings or office buildings or something. I couldn’t describe it, but you have this sense that I have been here before. I am not saying I don’t find myself in a strange place. It’s like being in the boat. My experience of a boat, is the circumstances are vaguely like when I was in my partner’s boat, but it wasn’t his boat, but my whole reaction of the size of the boat and everything must have been built up from what I’ve actually experienced.
 
Your actual memory?
 
But it is not with his boat or I am not looking at it to make sure. I mean he doesn’t come into it. I mean I’m in a boat and there are the sort of stove and pots and pans and what have you and it's doing this. Or I’m in a train and I have spent half my life in trains, and sometimes it’s in a multi storey building or I have been on scaffolding which I have, and I can see that this is a dangerous situation and somebody ought to know about it. But first of all I have got to get myself into a safe position. And you start doing the right thing, but something crops up, so that you can’t get off the planking because you’ve now got to open the window but you know, the whole thing is a series of frustrations with a slight tension of not being on top of it. I don’t know whether it’s that. It’s an anxiety that you are not really achieving what you must do because of these petty interferences. And you are going to say well I didn’t tell the police because I couldn’t get my left boot on or something like that. You know, it never resolves itself.
 
Do you wake up feeling anxious after it?
 
Well yes, I suppose, but when I’m, well usually the cramp hurts me so my mind focuses on that and I think oh God I have actually got to get up. But whether I’m still asleep or I must be coming around and I’m being forced physically to get out of bed to stop the dominant pain or needing to go to the loo. So I couldn’t tell you, and I’ve no sense of time. This may last no end of time, I have no idea, but it only seems to be an incident that is a matter of minutes, but I don’t know even if it repeats itself. I keep seeing as like I’m still on the thing and it goes round and round. So it might be, and I couldn’t be sure of but it might be that I just keep going over the same petty frustration really. 
Previous Page
Next Page