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Mike - Interview 12

Age at interview: 66
Brief Outline: Mike works part-time as a test centre administrator. He has noticed a change in his sleep as he has got older, noticeably that he has periods of deeper sleep, but he doesn't believe he sleeps any longer than he used to. Mike noticed his sleep changed when he first had children, and finds that pattern has continued.
Background: Married, 5 children, part-time Test Centre Administrator

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Mike has five children, and three of them currently live with him and his wife. Mike first noticed his sleep change when he had children, finding that his sleep was much lighter as he would be listening for them in the night. He thinks this type of sleep has continued and he still sleeps quite lightly.

 
Mike feels his sleep is more disturbed now, and sometimes he will be awake several times in the night. On these occasions he won’t get up, but would rather lay in bed resting until he can fall asleep again. Mike often finds himself worrying about things in the night and this may be keeping him awake. He often wakes at about 5 or 6 am in the morning, and may doze on and off until he gets up. Mike finds he doesn’t need an alarm at all in the morning, even if he has to get up to go to work, he finds he will always wake up before he needs to.
 
Mike doesn’t sleep during the day, and will resist doing so because he thinks it is a waste of time. Only very rarely will he fall asleep watching a television programme and finds that frustrating.
 
Overall, although Mike doesn’t sleep that well, he doesn’t worry about it because he can still do what he needs to do during the day and for him, disturbed sleep has become normal.
 

Mike varies his bedtime and wake up time according to whether he is working the next day, but may...

Mike varies his bedtime and wake up time according to whether he is working the next day, but may...

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What I usually start by asking people is just really to give me a description of what a typical night’s sleep is for you. So you might need to do that twice. One if you’re working and one for when you’re not working?
 
Okay yes. I mean I suppose even when I’m not working I’m not into any very fixed pattern. I mean if I’m working because I’m one of these people that takes a long time, I don’t like rushing around in the morning, I like to have time to move slowly and so I often get up 5.15, 5.30. So that means I probably go to bed somewhere around 9.30 give or take a quarter of an hour and then as I say I get up about 5.15, 5.30, so that I can get out the house about 7 o’clock. So that would be normally what I do then. If I’m not working and its just an ordinary day, Mondays and Tuesdays, my wife usually works and I usually get up reasonably early before her, so I’m driven a little bit by if it’s the day I’m not working, but she is, its driven a little bit by getting up and getting started. So that she can tie in with that. On days when neither of us are working I would say probably I get up between 7 and 7.30 having gone to bed between ten and eleven the previous night. But there isn’t any time table at all really. If I am watching something interesting in the television, if I’m playing on the computer or anything like that then I wouldn’t say well I’m going to stop now because its bed time.
 
So you have a, it’s the timing, that really vary. So you think if you are up earlier because of work you adjust your bedtime is that what you are doing?
 
Yes. I try to. I mean on odd occasions, I can’t remember one off the top of my head, but on odd occasions perhaps there is some reason why I can’t get to bed early and if so you just sort of shrug your shoulders and get on with it really. But in an ideal world if I’m going to work with an early start the following day, I mean the test centre opens at 8, I usually try and get in there quarter, to half hour an early to get ready. If I’m going to do that I would normally try and go to bed around 9.30 the night before.
 
So you do make sure you get to bed earlier?
 
I try to yes, yes, because again, I mean I’ve often been an early starter at work. I worked for Thames Water for donkeys years and I was on the operational side, albeit in the office, so then I used to try and get to work by about half seven, so I was sort of in a bit of a mindset, well I’m used to getting up fairly early, but I mean even ten years ago I could go to bed at half eleven and get up at 5.30, 6.00 without it being an issue, but I think times starting to catch up with me a bit now. 
 

Mike felt if he went to the toilet just in case, it would make him feel more comfortable and help...

Mike felt if he went to the toilet just in case, it would make him feel more comfortable and help...

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What about having to go to the loo. Do you have to do that in the night?
 
I don’t normally, I often get up about 3 or 4 o’clock perhaps 5 o’clock but just once normally. And it’s not usually desperate it’s just probably well I feel a little bit more comfortable perhaps almost.
 
So you don’t think it’s something that’s waking you up?
 
No I don’t really. No I don’t think so.
 
Is that something that you wake up and think oh I might as well go to the loo now?
 
Yes, almost. Yes, almost. I’m awake and I think oh I might as well go, you just feel a little bit more comfortable for a little bit longer. 
 
 

Mike would rather not take sleeping tablets as he feels his sleep would not be natural.

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Mike would rather not take sleeping tablets as he feels his sleep would not be natural.

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No I have never taken a sleeping tablet. I don’t really believe in sleeping tablets, because I think, I might be totally wrong, but my idea of sleeping tablets is that they’re not a natural thing that’s happening. If you are in some sort of drug induced state, I don’t think you’re sleeping.
 

Mike felt if he did start to nap it would signify he was getting older.

Mike felt if he did start to nap it would signify he was getting older.

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Do you think there’ll ever come a time when you might [nap]?
 
Well I hope not. I hope not. Because I think it would reflect on the fact that I was really getting past it. But I suppose it could, yes it could come to it. I just feel that once you’re up and about and in day time mode, to then go and lay down for an hour or so, and then you’re like starting again aren’t you, and going through the whole of that morning routine thing, where you wake up, and you have a wash and a shower and whatever you’re going to do and now you’re awake and you feel a bit better because you’ve had your shower and everything, I think perhaps if you went back and had a lay down again, then you’re almost turning the clock back five or six hours. 
 
 

Apart from feeling a bit sluggish after a bad night’s sleep, Mike would just get up and get on...

Apart from feeling a bit sluggish after a bad night’s sleep, Mike would just get up and get on...

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So if I said to you, you can have a perfect night’s sleep tonight, what would that perfect night’s sleep be?
 
Well I don’t know, because I think I’m used to what I do really. So it doesn’t worry me. I suppose I, if it went to bed tonight at half past ten, I wouldn’t expect to sleep through till 7 o’clock the following morning. That’s not what I would expect so, I wouldn’t particularly be, I wouldn’t particularly be concerned if it didn’t happen. So I think I can cope with whatever really. I mean if I have a particularly bad night, which I don’t that often, but if I do, then I just get up and get on with it really.
 
So if you’ve had a really bad night do you feel any differently the next day?
 
Well I just feel slightly sluggish you know, my eyes sort of …
 
It’s interesting what you were saying there, that even if I offered you the perfect night’s sleep you say that you’re okay with …?
 
I am yes. Yes.
 
Why would you not need to change. Why do you think that’s okay?
 
Well I think it’s just what I’m used to really. I don’t think it’s anymore than that. I don’t think it’s an issue. I really don’t think it’s an issue. I mean, yes, I don’t know. I mean on odd occasions if you have a night out or whatever or you don’t go to bed till one o’clock but you’ve still got to get up and six or seven o’clock, okay, of course I would feel quite tired the next day and your head’s not quite right and you’re a bit sticky behind your eyes and things, but I just think get on with it, and if you’re still tired you go to bed earlier the following night don’t you.
 
Okay so that’s something you would do?
 
I think you have just got to get on with it I think. 
 

Mike rarely discussed his broken sleep with friends or family because, although he slept quite...

Mike rarely discussed his broken sleep with friends or family because, although he slept quite...

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Is it something you talk about with friends? You mentioned a colleague was telling you about how to relax. Is sleep something that ever comes up in your conversation, say people talk to you about it or do you talk to them or …?
 
Not really, no. I suppose as you say, I suppose I must have mentioned it occasionally. I think it probably was just general, I wouldn’t say it is in my conversation. If anyone was talking and the conversation got around into that sort of area I suppose I would probably say in passing 'well I don’t sleep very well', but then move on to the next thing. Because as I’ve probably said a dozen times already it’s not that important to me.
 
Yes.
 
It’s not something that concerns me to that extent, no. 
 

Mike feels sleep is not at all important, although resting is, and he would much rather not have...

Mike feels sleep is not at all important, although resting is, and he would much rather not have...

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Is sleep something you’ve ever gone to your doctor about?
 
No.
 
Why is that?
 
I’ve never felt the need to. Although I would say, I mean I don’t think I have major sleep problems in the sense that I’m a total insomniac but even though I suppose if you want to put labels onto people you almost might say well you’re a partial insomniac. I never felt that was a problem.
 
So you would say that is not a problem to be a partial insomniac. Because …?
 
I don’t think it needs to be a problem, but that’s me, in my position.
 
Do you think sleep is important then. Is it important to you?
 
Going to bed and having a lay down is quite important, but I don’t think sleep in itself is desperately important. I’m conscious of the fact you need to.
 
Right.
 
But I think it’s almost wasted time.
 
So if you could take a tablet, which they are looking into now to say stop you from either needing a whole night’s sleep or even part of a night’s sleep is that something you would invest in?
 
Probably yes. I don’t know if I, I mean in theory, I don’t know whether I’d actually do it now, but in theory I probably would, yes, because I think there’s better things you could be doing really.
 
Right okay. So it is about you being able to carry on doing more things?
 
Hm. Nothing very earth shattering but just something I would want to do. Even if it was sitting and reading I suppose.
 

Mike not only remembers dreaming frequently when he was a child, but still remembers what he...

Mike not only remembers dreaming frequently when he was a child, but still remembers what he...

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And you mentioned about your dreams, do you want to tell me about that?
 
It might be total, it may be completely utter fallacy, but I have just got the feeling that I’m dreaming more again. And I can remember. I can’t remember a lot of the detail, but I can remember as a pretty small child, I can remember that I used to have quite vivid dreams which may possibly be to do with, because you talk about ‘41, ‘45, I mean obviously probably when I was a baby or an infant there was the odd air raid going on and things like that or the sound of aircraft engines and I can remember that sort of thing cropping up in dreams when I was small. And I suppose that must be, it must have been quite important for me to be aware of it now. And I know that is certainly not in the sort of the things that I dream now, but I just get the feeling that I dreamt a lot then and I seem to be dreaming a lot now.
 
So that is interesting. You remember as a small boy having dreams that reflected the war, because you were obviously too young?
 
No I was born in 1941.
 
So you might have had some element of the blitz or the doodle bugs coming over?
 
Yes. I mean I seem to have this feeling of hearing aircraft coming over.
 
That’s interesting.
 
And I think, I mean I don’t think they tried to bomb the RAE or anything like that, but I think there were air raid warnings out and about and I know my poor old Nan she always used to be reminding me of a case supposedly where the air raid warning went off and my Mum and Dad said 'oh no we’re too comfortable we can’t be bothered to go down the shelter' and my Nan giving them a hard time.
 
You can remember that or did she tell you that?
 
Well she told me about it later. I can’t remember it happening but she used to report that to me. Yes. I can remember. So yes, I think probably I don’t know whether I dreamt, to what extent I was dreaming about it, but I think I was aware of the fact as a small child, as a baby and an infant that this was happening round and about. I suppose probably at the time you thought it was norm didn’t you.
 
Yes and people say, so you had an awareness of what was going on?
 
Hm.
 
And then did that come up later in your dreams?
 
I think so, no I think when I’m talking about that I’m talking about at the time.
 
At the time you were dreaming and those were dreams in what was going on …?
 
Yes, I think so. Yes.
 
And is that what’s happening now. Is that the kind of dream?
 
No I suppose no, it probably doesn’t reflect the content it reflects the amount of it I think. You know, the amount. I have just got a feeling, it might not even be the case, but I have just got a feeling that I do seem to be constantly dreaming now, and as I say it’s all parallel universe stuff. It’s not desperately interesting. I mean I can’t remember it any way but it’s all living in a parallel life somewhere. 
 

Mike often lies awake worrying in the night, but in the morning realises his problems aren’t that...

Mike often lies awake worrying in the night, but in the morning realises his problems aren’t that...

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So the usual question is I ask people about how your sleep has changed since you’ve been retired, won't apply to you, but it doesn’t sound like…?
 
I don’t think it’s changed much. I think I get tireder now. Physically tireder now and I sometimes feel that, probably as I intimated earlier the actual way I sleep seems to, I seem to go into deeper periods of sleep now. But I don’t necessarily sleep any longer over all.
 
So okay, when did you notice that started?
 
I think I only noticed it in the last year or so, but I don’t know whether it’s a reality or just an impression. I’ve always been a little bit of a night time worrier. We all know it don’t we. If you’re not a desperately deep sleeper, you do, you do anything that’s a problem, you are lying there at night and it comes into your mind doesn’t it. And I mean I think a lot of the times, perhaps if I am lying there for an hour or two, it is mulling around things that have gone wrong or potentially are going to go wrong and then in the morning you think about it, and you think, oh so what!
 
What was all that about?!
 
What was all that about exactly yes!
 

Mike remembers sleeping well when he was a teenager and young adult and having children was the...

Mike remembers sleeping well when he was a teenager and young adult and having children was the...

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I can’t believe my parents were that strict. I mean I’m sure there were general routines about what time you go to bed but I’d say they wouldn’t have been strict. They weren’t the sort of people that would have said, 'right its 8 o’clock off you go'. And so, although I would imagine there was a sort of general time at each age group when it was assumed that you would go to bed. It wouldn’t have been anything that was applied with any sense of strictness. I would have still have had some sort of input into it I would have thought.
 
So you had some choices?
 
Yes. I am sure yes. yes.
 
And would you class yourself as a good sleeper then?
 
I think I was yes. I have to be honest I can’t see it with that sort of clarity, but I do, my general conception is that I was a decent sleeper. Probably that’s not a very good word term as far as you are concerned. But I used to sleep well, and wake up feeling sort of fairly refreshed. I don’t know how, what the time scale to that was. I suppose when I’m talking about that, I’m talking about when I was still at school, and probably when I first left school, I used to have to make... my first sort of proper job I was working in the West End of London and travelling from [Town], and so I used to have to get up quite early so I imagine that was a little bit of a change of pattern. And then I was, I stayed on the usual bedsit route, so God knows what I was doing then. I imagine I was probably out and about a little bit more then. But certainly my general, the general feeling I get is that I slept fairly well and fairly consistently and fairly refreshingly during my young years, teens and twenties. But I’m not sure I’m certain about that but that’s what I think.
 
And then subsequent to that you noticed its more broken sleep?
 
Yes, a bit more broken. I always think that I started having more broken sleep after my first, after my eldest daughter was born, but again I could stand to be corrected, but obviously there is nobody there to correct me. But that’s my feeling or conception or whatever it is, is that what’s happened, you know.
 

Mike did mention his poor sleep to his doctor whilst he was attending an appointment during a...

Mike did mention his poor sleep to his doctor whilst he was attending an appointment during a...

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So you’ve never been to the doctor about your sleep?
 
I haven’t.
 
Has it ever come up in the context of any other health issues?
 
I don’t think so. I certainly don’t remember. I mean I went into the surgery a couple of years ago and had this MOT business and I probably mentioned in passing that I didn’t sleep particularly well. But I don’t think anybody. Because it didn’t seem important to me I don’t think anybody’s ever flagged it up as important. So I’m sure I have certainly never been to a doctor and said ‘look I’m sleeping terribly badly’. Whether, I mean I haven’t been to a doctor desperately often anyway, but if I had and there’s probably been a couple of occasions and I can’t think from where perhaps I have had something else and I might have said well I’m not sleeping very well. But it’s never been an issue. 
 

Mike believes he hasn’t slept well since his children were small because he was always listening...

Mike believes he hasn’t slept well since his children were small because he was always listening...

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No I have always done that. I think that’s why, even when I was working, or when I was a lot younger I still used to, I don’t think I’ve been a good sleeper since I started having children and I think I can remember reacting the minute anybody makes a noise or made a noise. It is probably slightly different now, then I would wake up. I don’t think it can happen now, because when the boys wander in two, three, four, five o’clock in the morning, I don’t necessarily wake up then.
 
So how many have you got living with you?
 
Well you see I have two children from my first marriage, and now I’ve got the three boys, we have got the three boys here now, from the second marriage so, and they are all here. So I mean they are old enough, in the sense that they’re not a worry in the sense they are physically any danger. But you know when children are small and you hear something, there is a danger type reaction, there’s something gone wrong isn’t there. And I’ve got a feeling somewhere that I haven’t really slept particularly well since then.
 

Mike doesn’t like the idea of having to take a nap during the day because he believes that would...

Mike doesn’t like the idea of having to take a nap during the day because he believes that would...

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How do you feel about the whole sleeping during the day thing?
 
I’m not very keen on it. A couple of, I suppose it must reflect the fact that on particular occasions I have been particularly tired. I can remember a couple of times when I’ve been watching something I was interested in, that I’ve woken up and thought oh hell I’ve missed that now. And I find that really aggravating. But, no, I rather hope I don’t get round to that.
 
Why is that?
 
Well I just think you’re doing other things really.
 
Okay so it’s not something you would want to do?
 
I wouldn’t want to do it now.
 
Have you got any family or friends who do that…?
 
Well my Mum’s getting, well she’s coming up for 91 now and she’s got arthritic problems, but no she wouldn’t tend to lay down, unless she was, she does have obviously with the pain, she does have quite broken nights. No she’s not a day time sleeper. I mean and the reason I’m hesitating a little bit is I imagine there are occasions when perhaps she does, but it’s not a habit or anything of hers and certainly my Dad wouldn’t have done.
 
He wouldn’t have done?
 
No he wouldn’t have done. He was probably quite similar to me. Probably slightly more physical, activity I would imagine. But he doesn’t strike me as the sort of person that would have said oh I’m going to go and have a nap now. So think probably the answer to that is no, it’s not a family, it’s not something that’s in our family.
 
Do you think there’ll ever come a time when you might…?
 
Well I hope not. I hope not. Because I think it would reflect on the fact that I was really getting past it. But I suppose it could, yes it could come to it. I just feel that once you’re up and about and in day time mode, to then go and lay down for an hour or so, and then you’re like starting again aren’t you, and going through the whole of that morning routine thing, where you wake up, and you have a wash and a shower and whatever you’re going to do and now you’re awake and you feel a bit better because you’ve had your shower and everything, I think perhaps if you went back and had a lay down again, then you’re almost turning the clock back five or six hours. I’m probably conscious of the fact I’m probably not explaining that very well, but I think you are picking that …
 

Mike goes to bed earlier when he is working the next day because now he is older he finds he...

Mike goes to bed earlier when he is working the next day because now he is older he finds he...

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Okay yes. I mean I suppose even when I’m not working I’m not into any very fixed pattern. I mean if I’m working because I’m one of these people that takes a long time, I don’t like rushing around in the morning, I like to have time to move slowly and so I often get up 5.15, 5.30. So that means I probably go to bed somewhere around 9.30 give or take a quarter of an hour and then as I say I get up about 5.15, 5.30, so that I can get out the house about 7 o’clock. So that would be normally what I do then. If I’m not working and it’s just an ordinary day, Mondays and Tuesdays, my wife usually works and I usually get up reasonably early before her, so I’m driven a little bit by if it’s the day I’m not working, but she is, its driven a little bit by getting up and getting started. So that she can tie in with that. On days when neither of us are working I would say probably I get up between 7 and 7.30 having gone to bed between ten and eleven the previous night. But there isn’t any time table at all really. If I am watching something interesting in the television, if I’m playing on the computer or anything like that then I wouldn’t say well I’m going to stop now because its bed time.
 
So you have a, it’s the timing, that really vary. So you think if you are up earlier because of work you adjust your bedtime is that what you are doing?
 
Yes. I try to. I mean on odd occasions, I can’t remember one off the top of my head, but on odd occasions perhaps there is some reason why I can’t get to bed early and if so you just sort of shrug your shoulders and get on with it really. But in an ideal world if I’m going to work with an early start the following day, I mean the test centre opens at 8, I usually try and get in there quarter, to half hour an early to get ready. If I’m going to do that I would normally try and go to bed around 9.30 the night before.
 
So you do make sure you get to bed earlier?
 
I try to yes, yes, because again, I mean I’ve often been an early starter at work. I worked for Thames Water for donkeys years and I was on the operational side, albeit in the office, so then I used to try and get to work by about half seven, so I was sort of in a bit of a mindset, well I’m used to getting up fairly early, but I mean even ten years ago I could go to bed at half eleven and get up at 5.30, 6.00 without it being an issue, but I think times starting to catch up with me a bit now. 
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