Why I won’t convert to clean sleeping

Nicole Mowbray’s article on ‘clean’ sleeping in last weekend’s Guardian magazine is worth a read by anyone of the insomniac variety. Not least for me, because it served as a reminder to keeping my sleep obsession in check. I say “sleep obsession”, but comparing myself with some of the individuals she interviewed, I feel like I’m doing ok.

For the women featured it seems that being a ‘good’ sleeper is just another thing on a list of achievements to tick off. Never mind sacrificing a healthy diet and you know, trivial things, like personal relationships, as long as these Paltrow pilgrims get their 8-10 hours, all will be right with the world. They won’t be “grumpy”, or face the humiliating prospect of not looking Insta-beautiful every waking second of their short day.

Ok, so there’s a small part of me that’s envious. I’m jealous of anyone who can clock up more than six hours in one night. But would I swap places with a clean sleeper? I’d rather be grumpy and ugly thanks. Because what is the point of feeling all perky and perfect if you don’t actually get to live life? What is all that sleep-filled goodness for, if after acing it in your high-powered job, you head straight home and tuck yourself in by 8.30pm? Yes, you may live to 100 because of your super healthy lifestyle, but what experiences will you have to tell your grandkids about? If indeed you’ve found any time in your clean sleeping schedule to use your bedroom for the act of procreation.


Photo of children's clock at 8.30pm

8.30pm: bed time for grown ups?

Mowbray’s article highlights the important point that sleep is just one more element of our lives for capitalism to get its claws into – the latest thing to feel anxious about so that we all go out spending our money in pursuit of the next miracle cure. I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t got its claws into me – my previous posts reveal a number of ways in which I’ve spent my hard-earned trying to get to sleep – but after reading this article I definitely won’t be splashing out on any sleep tracking devices.

After many years of being an insomniac, I’m beginning to accept it. I know that generally speaking, I won’t feel fully rested after a night in bed. Starting from this point is easier. Rather than counting all the hours’ sleep I haven’t had and panicking about my inevitable insomnia-induced early death, I celebrate the small things I can do to get the odd extra hour and the brief uplifting feeling that gives me in the here and now. I’m learning to stop looking for the miracle cure and instead find (and sometimes yes, pay for) new ways to help me cope with the kind of sleeper my body and brain make me. Being a dirty sleeper is a lot less disappointing.

Are you a clean sleeping convert or sceptic? I’d love to hear your experiences. Feel free to add your comments below.

Thanks for reading.



2 thoughts on “Why I won’t convert to clean sleeping

  1. Cannot ever in my life remember being (or desiring to be) a ‘clean’ sleeper… had several long periods in my life of averaging 4hrs a night; as a student (simply out of sheer student-i-ness burning candle at both ends), when living in a Buddhist centre (staying up late and getting up early but possibly mitigating lack of sleep with deep meditation), as a jazz-singer-by-night-office-worker-by-day in my mid thirties and for several years from first baby to second child turning 4.
    The draw of ‘fitting more into a day than one reasonably should be able to’ is just too strong for me to do otherwise… xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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