in defence of sleepiness

Sleep is one of those things we drastically undervalue in our society. I think about this a lot, as a perpetually sleepy person: how most people are more worried about dehyrdration or sugar addiction than they are their lack of rest.

Mention you have a headache, and you’re immediately blanketed in well-intentioned advice. Someone will demand you drink a pint of water; another person will offer to rub your neck. Depending on the kind of company you keep, prescription painkillers or scented oils will emerge from various handbags, lights will be darkened, care and concern handed your way.

Yet say you feel tired – that you didn’t get enough sleep and you feel bone-weary and sunken – and you’re most likely to be met with an odd sort of disdain. Lack of sleep is the tired person’s fault in a way dehyrdration never is; tiredness a weakness that a headache is never considered to be.

Why are we like this? Why is rest so undervalued – scorned upon, even? Sleep and tiredness sit so comfortably with ‘lazy’, and the lines we draw between the three are hazy and loose. Go to bed early, and you’re virtuous. Sleep late, and you’re a slob – even if both scenarios result in the exact same number of hours in bed.

It doesn’t help that we all respond differently to lack of rest. R, I notice, can bound out of bed after six hours and remain his usual cheerful, washing-up-obsessed self, while anything less than 8 hours makes me intolerably grumpy and pessimistic. Much like a toddler, I’m prone to bouts of tears and tantrums if I’m sleep deprived, and I’m a lot less easily distracted by stickers.

Our resentment of sleep is woven right through our history; it’s right here in the remnants of the Industrial revolution that formed this village. Protestant work ethics and Dickensian mill owners; back to a time when rising early to make the most of the daylight was essential; where there was little to do in those late dark hours but debauchery & booze.

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Our lives have changed but our attititides haven’t. We work late into the night, do laundry at 1am. Productivity and positivity are no longer relegated to the sunlit hours, & we need to adjust our sleep schedules and attitudes to fit.

So I’m making an effort to keep my sleep sacrosanct. Not in the strict-9pm-bedtime sense – that doesn’t work with my lifestyle or my brain – but by accepting my need to have enough. Even if that means being antisocial; even if it means sleeping through breakfast & being thought lazy sometimes. Especially if it means a mid-afternoon snooze from time to time. No guilt, just rest.

With that in mind, we’ve finally replaced our old mattresses. Ours have been on our giant, two-singles-build-together bed since before we lived here and I’m increasingly kept awake by the imagery of all the dead dust mites and dried body fluids they must surely have been harbouring. So long sarcophagi for dust; hello soft and springy new Leesa blocks of bliss. These babies are up my street in every way – no visits to those hellish retail park mattress stores, just order online and have a nice UPS man bring them to your door in inconceivably tiny boxes. Splitting the plastic and watching them slowly exhale into life is on that same unique pleasure list as peeling the protective film of an LCD screen and taking the cellophane off a new boardgame as a child. Mmmmm…

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Mattresses: C/o Leesa. Dress: Mises en Scene Paris.
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Twitter informed me this morning that, in a fashion so timely I’m tempted to pretend it was deliberate, we are in the midst of national sleep week! If you’re tempted to do the same and update your mattress, you can get £50 off at leesa.co.uk/meandorla.
And if you see me on twitter at 1am, tweeting at Mark Hamill or talking nonsense with people from another, daylit hemisphere, please give me a gentle nudge towards my bed.
I really, really need the sleep.

Do you find it difficult to prioritise rest? Any tips or pointers to help me get more sleep?

this post in collaboration with Leesa. All views, opinions and ideas my own.

6 Comments

  • Nicky

  • July 29, 2016

OMG! National Sleep Week? Really?? Every week should be National Sleep Week though ironically I have actually managed a 3 day stretch with no nanna nap! I am such a tired person – always have been but I used to get into trouble all the time as a youngster for “sleeping too much”. I really tried not to do the same to my own children. Sleep if you need sleep is my motto.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 07, 2016

Argh, it’s tricky isn’t it? SO often I stay up with him so we can go to bed together, but then I’m a wreck in the morning & he’s all sprightly.
I defo think you’re on to something re: overthinking and tiredness. Sleep has always been my respite, and a very welcome one at that. Plus lately I’ve noticed that my whole body is always poised and battle-ready with tension, and I wonder about how much energy I’m wasting on that?
Yes to new mattresses and the old bed shame. Also, all the STUFF that was under ours – who put all that there??

S x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 07, 2016

Argh, it’s so difficult to navigate clock changes with little ones – Orla is so tuned into the idea that bedtime happens after dark that the last week has been extra tricky! Only going to get worse with summertime, of course. Glad to hear I’m not the only sleep freak out there 🙂

  • LilBee

  • April 05, 2016

Great post. In exactly the same boat with myself always needing more sleep than the Mr. I’ve also thought about this and I wonder if sleep is a form of escape for the likes of us – when everything is just chattering away in our heads and the only solace is sleep. I’m a bit *cringe* to say but I actually say a mental ‘see you later, can’t wait, gonna miss you today’ when I’m making up the bed in the mornings!! I laughed out loud at the dried bodily fluids bit – we recently changed our mattress and my shame when the delivery men removed our bed – OMG! Yours in admiration of sleep, L x

  • LilBee

  • April 05, 2016

Great post. In exactly the same boat with myself always needing more sleep than the Mr. I’ve also thought about this and I wonder if sleep is a form of escape for the likes of us – when everything is just chattering away in our heads and the only solace is sleep. I’m a bit *cringe* to say but I actually say a mental ‘see you later, can’t wait, gonna miss you today’ when I’m making up the bed in the mornings!! I laughed out loud at the dried bodily fluids bit – we recently changed our mattress and my shame when the delivery men removed our bed – OMG! Yours in admiration of sleep, Lilli x

  • Simi Atanda Lindgren

  • April 04, 2016

Sleep is so important, I actually wrote a post about this recently with BST coming up as I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to handle the time change with a 3 month old here http://similindgren.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/losing-sleep-over-losing-sleep.html it was even more important when I was pregnant and needed various pillows and gadgets to help me sleep well http://similindgren.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/sleeping-edit.html
Good post x

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