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Sue B - Interview 03

Age at interview: 70
Brief Outline: Sue B. lives on her own in a small, friendly village. She has 4 children and 7 grandchildren. She recently gave up her job as a provider of supplies to pre-school groups, but still works part-time making scarves which she sells through Craft Fairs. Sue B. is very active, often taking several walks a day, sometimes swimming and bicycling. She is also a retired Church Warden. Sleep is very important to Sue B., and she loves waking up after a very good night's sleep.
Background: Divorced, five children (one deceased), retired pre-school supplies wholesaler

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For Sue B. sleep is very important, and she believes it always has been. One of the main reasons Sue B.’s sleep is disturbed is when she has worries. If she does have a bad night Sue B. finds she wakes up feeling very groggy and it takes a while for her to start to feel better again. Very occasionally, after a bad night, Sue B. may find she dozes off after lunch, or she may try resting on her bed for a while without sleeping. But generally speaking, Sue B. finds she doesn’t need to take a nap during the day.

Sue B. has noticed recently that she has lots of vivid dreams, and sometimes some nightmares, usually linked to what she was thinking about before she went to bed. Sue B. tends to go to bed quite early in the evening, but usually because she likes to read or watch television there. Sue B. likes to spend time in her bedroom, and often sits in bed and does her paperwork.
 
Sue B. usually takes an antihistamine before she goes to sleep and she believes that helps her sleep better. Sue B. finds that, fortunately, she very rarely has to get up to go to the toilet in the night and believes this is because she makes sure she goes to the toilet several times before she goes to bed, and doesn’t drink too much later in the evening.
 

Sue B. tried a herbal remedy, but it made her feel unwell.

Sue B. tried a herbal remedy, but it made her feel unwell.

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I have tried these herbal things and I didn’t get on with them at all. One I think it was called Nytol.
 
Nytol herbal?
 
I think it almost made me feel sick or something. Quite weird any way. So I have given that up. I haven’t tried any more no.
 
Not things like lavender pillows or anything like that?
 
Oh I have lavender on my pillow.
 
Oh you do. And that helps?
 
I think so yes.
 

Sue B. read in a newspaper how giving up alcohol may help you sleep better, but hasn’t found it...

Sue B. read in a newspaper how giving up alcohol may help you sleep better, but hasn’t found it...

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I go upstairs… I have my supper really early because I am always trying to lose weight and I am under a nutritionist which is excellent. She said eat early. So I have my supper as early as five o’clock and then try not to eat much more after that. I have given up alcohol for Lent. So far I have not slipped.
 
Well done.
 
Which is not too bad… I thought I would find it difficult. So I am pleased about that and I have, at odd times when my son comes in with his problems, I think goodness I could do with a drink tonight, but I haven’t.
 
So then do you find giving up the alcohol has made any difference to your sleep?
 
Well I am wondering. I was reading about sleep in the newspaper yesterday and it says that a woman who was detoxing without alcohol for a month and she felt she was sleeping more soundly, but to be honest I don’t really think it has made much difference.
 
No difference to you?
 
I don’t think it has no. I have been sleeping very well the last sort of ten days. 
 

Sue B. compares her sleeping habits with well known people.

Sue B. compares her sleeping habits with well known people.

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What about if you go away and there is a duvet?
 
Oh I do cope with it no problem, you know, no problem, but I just prefer. I am a bit like the late Winston Churchill I confess I do have magazines, paper work, all sorts on my bed because it is a double bed.
 
So you spread all that around while you are working?
 
So they are all spread around on my bed. So it is not tidy.
 
So you go to sleep with that lot on you?
 
Yes. I sleep on one side and on the other side I have got papers and the magazines and the book and various bits and bobs. And then the thing is ready to do in the morning when I wake up.
 
Ah. And they don’t fall off?
 
In fact it is my office. A bedroom office. The do fall off sometimes and you wake in the night  like crash something has fallen off.
 
So you sleep on that same side?
 
Yes. I was reading Joan Bakewell sleeps in the middle of her double bed.
 
And you sleep on one side?
 
I sleep on one side because I have always slept on that side you know, in the marital bed and wherever I sleep I sleep on a particular side.
 
Okay that is interesting. You have got all sorts of fun going on there.
 
A bit eccentric to say the least.
 
And any special pillows do you have?
 
Yes. I am quite keen on my pillows yes. I did buy some really nice pillows about six months ago and so I do change those because of this dust mite problem. So I have two pillows, really good pillows and I was reading this article that pillows are important too aren’t they.
 
Yes, yes, they are. Do you take them away with you if you go away?
 
No I don’t. Well I suppose I have done occasionally yes, yes. But I am not that neurotic. I think Prince Charles does. 
 

Sue B. takes all her paperwork up to her bedroom and spreads it out over her bed, even falling...

Sue B. takes all her paperwork up to her bedroom and spreads it out over her bed, even falling...

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I am a bit like the late Winston Churchill, I confess I do have magazines, paperwork, all sorts on my bed because it is a double bed.
 
So you spread all that around while you are working?
 
So they are all spread around on my bed. So it is not tidy.
 
So you go to sleep with that lot on you?
 
Yes. I sleep on one side and on the other side I have got papers and the magazines and the book and various bits and bobs. And then the thing is ready to do in the morning when I wake up.
 
Ah. And they don’t fall off?
 
In fact it is my office. A bedroom office. They do fall off sometimes and you wake in the night like crash something has fallen off.
 
So you sleep on that same side?
 
Yes. I was reading Joan Bakewell sleeps in the middle of her double bed.
 
And you sleep on one side?
 
I sleep on one side because I have always slept on that side you know, in the marital bed and wherever I sleep I sleep on a particular side.
 
Okay that is interesting. You have got all sorts of fun going on there!
 
A bit eccentric to say the least! 
 

Sue B. avoids having coffee because it may interfere with her sleep, although she may drink a...

Sue B. avoids having coffee because it may interfere with her sleep, although she may drink a...

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And are there any kind of drinks you avoid with the thought of sleep in mind?
 
Well I wouldn’t have full on coffee. I have got some quite good stuff called dandelion coffee. I have it occasionally but that's meant to be absolutely fine for night. I don’t really like what is the other kind.
 
The decaffeinated?
 
The decaffeinated no.
 
Is that just a night time thing or day do you avoid drinking caffeinated coffee?
 
No. I don’t drink much coffee, but I do drink ordinary coffee, just ordinary instant coffee in the day but at night I would either have the decaf or this dandelion but it is very, very rare that I have coffee at night. I drink a lot of tea at about between five and six.
 
So when you are having your evening meal?
 
After I have had my evening meal then I have a cup of tea.  
 

Sue B. is aware that her dreams very often reflect what she was doing before she went to bed.

Sue B. is aware that her dreams very often reflect what she was doing before she went to bed.

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Do you have dreams?
 
A lot.
 
You do?
 
A huge amount and I find, in the last, sort of this last few days the dreams I have are related to what I was thinking about before I have gone to sleep. Slightly related.
 
That is quite common. It is about, although they don’t know why we dream. It is about …
 
They are very vivid and I do remember quite a lot of them. I can remember last night’s because it was with my middle daughter. And I just started, which is a great joy, listening to Desert Island discs on a Friday morning at nine. I fit that in. And I think in the dream she was saying Mum why can’t you come or something, you know, you are late or something. And I was saying oh I want to watch this programme end. It was all tied up with – I had obviously been thinking about listening to it tomorrow. I don’t know, but I do have very vivid dreams. 
 

Sue B. has a variety of suggestions for helping with poor sleep.

Sue B. has a variety of suggestions for helping with poor sleep.

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So if you could think of some strategies, you’ve given me some hints of some , just pulling them together. Milk and honey you said was one of them?
 
Yes. that is very good.
 
That works does it to settle you down?
 
Yes. I could have it every night but I am probably too lazy to do that every night.
 
Right. That’s in the middle of the night. Any other strategies you could offer advice on. What would help people sleep? Can you think of any? You have got the lavender?
 
Deep breathing. I did some yoga which I didn’t really get on with. The yoga man said if you are not sleeping just taking deep breaths that I think helps.
 
Is that something you do?
 
Sometimes I do, yes. If I am not dropping off, I think oh just take a few slow deep breaths I think that helps. I think you mustn’t toss and turn. I think that is very bad.
 
What would you do instead of tossing and turning?
 
Well they say you should get up and come downstairs. And I would get up and come down and get the hot milk and honey.
 
Right. And then take it back to bed?
 
Yes. Yes.
 
Anything else?
 
And perhaps then read a bit. Read a little bit yes?
 
Until you feel tired?
 
Feel a little bit tired. Yes.
 

Sue B. enjoys the fact that she doesn’t have to set the alarm to get up for work and can now wake...

Sue B. enjoys the fact that she doesn’t have to set the alarm to get up for work and can now wake...

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So you have got a radio in your room?
 
Yes, I have got, yes.
 
Is it a radio alarm?
 
No it is just an ordinary radio which I switch on for Radio Four in the morning. By my bed, yes.
 
And do you have that on to go to sleep too?
 
No.
 
So that is not on?
 
No.
 
Do you have an alarm on at all?
 
I have a clock alarm if I have to get up early if I have got an appointment for something yes. I don’t put the alarm on. That is the bliss of being a pensioner and not having to go out to work. But if I had a dental appointment which I have had in the past really early then obviously I do put the alarm on.
 
Other than that you just wake up naturally?
 
Yes. Which is wonderful. 
 

Sue B. finds that if she has a problem that is worrying her, she will wake up earlier than usual,...

Sue B. finds that if she has a problem that is worrying her, she will wake up earlier than usual,...

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If I am extremely tired and sometimes, I mean the other night I think it was Sunday night I was watching a lovely programme with David Attenborough, I think that was from 9 to 10 and I was very, very tired and I was dropping off in that programme. And I think I didn’t hear the end of it. you know, so that night obviously I went out like a light.
 
Straight to bed and then straight to sleep?
 
But basically I am not tossing and turning in the middle of the night and not waking up at 2 o’clock in the morning and on the whole, if I have got a real worry then I find I probably will go to sleep, but I will wake up very early in the morning. Probably about 5 or something.
 
Right and then you don’t go back to sleep?
 
No, on the whole. But a normal night at the moment has been fairly regular waking up at about 7 on the whole, perhaps half past 7 and there was a period a few months back when I was sleeping in quite late perhaps even quarter to 8.
 
Well it works really well for me. I can get up in the morning. I have my energy. I go for a walk before breakfast for a quarter of an hour and I am alive and on the whole, not feeling, you know, the day is difficult because I haven’t had enough sleep. So it suits me really well.
 
So if you don’t have that sleep you feel the day is difficult?
 
Well waking up at 5 I find is hard.
 
How often does that happen?
 
Not very often. It is only if I am worrying about something.
 
So the worries wake you up in the morning?
 
They seem to wake me up more, obviously I don’t get to sleep so well at night but I do find I wake up really early in the morning if I have got something that is really troubling me on my mind. 
 
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