I have to say, I could see this moment coming. If you have a modicum of intelligence and an analytical bent, you can’t keep a sleep diary for very long without realising a few things. It was simply a matter of waiting for the shoe to drop. Obvious things like caffeine and alcohol and the bedroom environment come first. But then, with three weeks of accumulated evidence, it’s obvious: if you’re getting about six hours of sleep but you’re in bed for eight hours, you’re spending too long in bed awake. Which we already knew. But the beginning of a solution is not to somehow, magically, get more sleep, but to spend less time in bed.
Inevitably, as I’ve struggled with sleep, I’ve been tireder earlier in the evening and I’ve been getting in bed earlier. And it’s only when you keep the sleep diary and look at what you’re doing to yourself that you realise how wrongheaded that is. Getting into bed at 9:45 in the evening isn’t going to net you an extra couple of hours sleep. So Sleepio is now telling me that I can get my six hours by going to bed at midnight. The theory is that you will get a better quality six hours, with fewer interruptions, and much less time spent awake. So the offer at the moment from Sleepio is not to increase my sleep but to improve it. Again, this much I had already surmised.
There are other parts of the programme that are less palatable. No reading in bed. And getting up when you are awake for more than 15 minutes, so that you’re not spending too much time in bed awake. Forcing yourself out of a warm bed in the middle of the night is no fun. And there’s no napping allowed, and even though you’re staying up later, you’re not supposed to do anything too active or stimulating. So while I might not normally mind staying up, if it meant I was reading something good or even creating something, I don’t think those activities fit the template of passive relaxation.
The first night, I started yawning and feeling really tired shortly after 9 p.m.. I put this down to a psychological effect. Anyway, I did it. And I got 5 hours and 39 minutes of sleep for my 6 hours in bed. Not bad, but it felt bad, because I was in deep sleep when the alarm went off at 6 a.m., and I did wake up at about 4:30 for about 10 minutes.
The second night was brutal. I stayed up watching Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy on Britbox, made the pizza dough, watched some music videos on YouTube, watched more Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and went to bed at midnight. This time, though I got less sleep: just 5 hours and 12 minutes, and I was fitfully awake from 5 a.m. Still, I was only lightly asleep when the alarm went, so it didn’t feel quite so hard to get out of bed.
I tried to read a bit, but I’m really not in the mood to read first thing in the morning, so I don’t know when I’m going to fit my reading in.
Anyway, phase three is going to be the toughest, but I’ll try to stick it out. I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er.