Permission to stay up late

Six hours under the covers was all I allowed myself each night last week. As you’ll already know if you read my last post, I’ve been running my own little experiment to test Professor Jason Ellis’ theory that reducing the time spent in bed can help combat insomnia.

And did the theory work? Yes, in a way, it did.  I braved it out till midnight each night and experienced a week free from lengthy periods of wakefulness. It felt good to be given a welcome reminder that I too can be a good sleeper. But my GCSE level scientific knowledge tells me that there was another factor that most likely acted as a variable in this experiment: I was off work for the week. “Woman takes week off work and sleeps better”. It’s not going to make the front pages, is it? But probably for the best that I didn’t conduct my experiment during a working week, conscientious employee that I am.

Am I about to declare myself cured of my sleep problems though? Sadly not. Because the other variable that compromised the validity of this trial was that my toddler, who usually sleeps, well, like a baby, began his own phase of nocturnal wakings. My six hours were interrupted on several occasions by a small person in need of a cuddle and more than an ounce of patience on my part as I cajoled him back into his own bed. I think I can therefore be forgiven for being a bit ‘tired and emotional’ at several points last week.

I can see how this method could work though. On the nights I was undisturbed I felt no more tired in the morning for spending less time in bed. I generally managed  five and a half hours’ sleep and felt pretty good for it. Far from sitting in a drowsy stupor counting the minutes until my midnight curfew, I actually felt pretty awake and relished having the extra time to myself – even when I’d slept badly the night before. But waking up on those mornings after I’d been up in the night with my little boy was pretty tough; despite being given the gift of a lie-in by my partner I felt pretty shocking during the first few hours of the day.

This theory may well work, if you can guarantee being free of disturbances that further reduce your ‘in bed’ time. So if you live in a secluded location, are childless and  blessed with a partner who doesn’t snore, give it a go!

I’ll gladly be heading to bed a bit earlier than midnight tonight, crossing everything that the whole household sleeps well.  What this experiment has taught me though, is that there’s no need to stress about getting the eight hours I thought I needed. It’s given me the knowledge that it is possible to rebel against my usual bedtime and still feel fine the next day. Yes, I can live life on the edge and stay up past 10 p.m. Steady on. Now I just need to solve my son’s sleep problems too…

If you’ve tried this method please leave me a comment below. I’d love to know whether or not it’s worked for you.

Thanks for reading.

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