One evening last year, I found out I sleep like a squirrel. Like the little fluffykins I need to have a long period of hibernation, although mine is mainly overnight and not through the entire winter.
I attended an event hosted by Benson’s for Beds and Harveys to showcase their new collections, and I got to chat with blogger and wellbeing expert Laura Agar, aka Wholeheartedly Laura, about my sleeping patterns.
While I guess most people talk about sleep they say how they’re only ever getting a couple of hours a night, or lie awake plagued by anxiety. Not me. My ability to sleep for 12+ hours is a thing of legend in my family. This isn’t laziness, or lying in bed looking at my phone, it’s being flat out for half a day at a time.
I explained this to her, and also that I have depression, which is well-known for affecting sleeping patterns. I’ve discussed the effect this has before. I was also feeling particularly exhausted at the time – I’d done a lot of travelling in the previous months and the timezone differences (going from San Francisco time to Hong Kong time in one month) had knocked me completely out of whack. I still needed to sleep for hours, but it just wasn’t helping me to rest.
She told me I was a squirrel sleeper. A hibernator. She’d spoken to one other person that day who was like me. Most others were owls who stay up late, or foxes, who sleep erratically.
We’re in the minority, but knowing there were other squirrels out there makes me feel so much better. As much as we hear about those people who sleep four hours a night and how great it is, maybe some of us need to get three times that to redress the balance.
Laura suggested I try to slow down, as this would not be helping me. I am guilty of trying to do too much, all of the time. Let’s be honest, I didn’t take her advice until the Christmas break. But now I feel so much better, I actually feel refreshed and I’m not falling asleep when I get home from work.
The other thing I explained was how much I hate it that I need so much sleep. Laura asked was if I disliked it so much because I felt like I was missing out. This really hit the nail on the head. I hate that I can’t get early like some people and get stuff done before I head to the office. I wish I had more hours in the day. If I do drag myself up early a few days in a row I start getting irritable and can’t think clearly. Basically I start acting sleep deprived.
She also suggested I try to have a more regular bedtime. Because I’m trying to do more in my waking hours I’ll stay up later and later, especially at weekends, when I can stay up until 2am on a Friday night, so then wake up at 2pm the next day. I made it a New Year’s Resolution to try to drag that back and be in bed by 11pm at the latest. I’ve not been perfect in these first few days of 2018, but I have managed to be in bed by midnight every night but New Year.
Laura also reminded me of some of the basics too of good sleep, like replacing your mattress every few years and not using your phone or laptop in bed – although we were amused that Benson’s for Beds were showcasing a whole range of new bedside tables that allow wireless phone charging.
I need to accept the amount of sleep I need, and to make sure that the sleep I’m getting is of the best possible quality. I think I also need to learn to schedule in some down time, so I don’t end up burning the candle at both ends.
To remind me of my squirrel status the team from Benson’s for Beds and Harveys sent me the squirrel pillow case, which Henry has carefully inspected and approved.