It’s the same thing every night. At about 8.30pm I find my eyelids drooping, my concentration faltering. I go into a state of what I like to call convulsive yawning – where I can barely take a normal breath before the next yawn comes along. My brain and indeed my entire body just longs for bed, sweet, sweet bed.
But do I go? Do I listen to my body and haul myself off the couch or away from the computer? Oh, no. Instead, I start web surfing, reading something that I can’t take in, or TV channel-hopping, with no destination in mind.
I know I’m not alone here.
The next thing I know, it’s 11.30pm and I am just about passing out with exhaustion. So I finally force my finger to press the ‘Off’ button on the remote, and tumble off the couch. I put the dog to bed, then head off to my own. But somewhere in there, my brain begins to wake up again, so that by the time my head hits the pillow, I’m wide awake! It takes at least an hour for me to get to sleep, so that in the morning, I wake up with the alarm groggy and desperate for some more shut-eye. So desperate in fact that by 8.30pm that night, I’m falling asleep on my feet again.
I’m an idiot, I know. But how do I break a habit that’s self-fullfilling? How do I fit in all the things I need to do in an average day? I’m so busy all the time that I struggle to keep on top, which is why I stay up so late trying to get things done (including writing blog posts!).
The silly thing is, I can actually feel the difference when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. The next day I’m much more alert, I have much more energy, and I’m in a great mood. The reasons for this are, of course, entirely due to what happens to the body when you sleep. When I don’t get sleep however, I feel sluggish, I have trouble getting up in the morning, and I’m almost constantly hungry. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem except that, as you have read above, I do it all the time.
So, we’re going to do a little journey into sleep: how it works, what it does and what the lack of it does to you. As you will see, just about everything in your life is directly affected by how much quality sleep you have. We’ll finish off with some real, practical steps you can take to get on top of your sleep and have some very sweet dreams.
In the meantime, here’s a cute game you can try out. This was created by the BBC UK Science team to test your reactions. I did this twice and both times rated as an Ambling Armadillo – and that was after I’d had an early night!
Have a go. The game is called Sheep Run. Click on the picture to play.
- Sleep Deprivation And Its Energy Cost (lockergnome.com)
- How Fatigue Creates Fat (psychologytoday.com)