Family Story: ‘I rarely get a good night’s sleep, because I’m waiting for him to get home safely’

Sleeping has become a real challenge for me.

I don’t get into a deep sleep because I’m waiting for my husband – who’s a police officer – to come home.

I can hear his car turn the two corners before it comes into our driveway at 3am, and I realise I’m still listening and waiting for him to get home safely. Once I hear that, I know I can drift off to sleep.

That’s probably not something that people realise about being the partner of a first responder who does shift work: you rarely get a good night’s sleep, because subconsciously you’re always waiting.

I don’t think they would think about how, as a partner, your sleep could be affected. We have friends who won’t ring my husband, in case he’s sleeping after a night shift, but they’ll ring me to ask if he’s around. They wouldn’t think that I might be having a sleep to recover from not sleeping well during his last four afternoon shifts, and from all the extra responsibility I’ve taken on with the kids and the house in that time.

When I’ve gone looking for advice about how to sleep better, all I’ve found is people saying to get into a sleep routine. But a routine is the biggest thing we can’t have in our family. It’s not possible. We live in a constant state of inconsistency.

So my sleep is still a work in progress. It’s a bit like when you have a newborn: it’s all over the place!

I try to listen to my body and rest when I can. If I’m tired then I try not to put too many things into my week, and I try to find an opportunity to have a nap. That might mean I have to ignore a bit of housework, but my sleep is more important than whether the sink’s clean.

As told to Fortem Australia

Thanks to the author of The Police Wife Chronicles for sharing your story