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23 February 2017

Sleep

Winchcombe, The Cotswolds


Something wonderful happened last month.

Something which hadn't ever happened to me before, as far as I could remember.

Something that will make some people squirm with jealousy, others roll their eyes and shrug with indifference, and a select few weep at the thought of this luxury just beyond their reach.

Here it is, my wicked, delicious truth:

For a whole week, I slept for 8 hours every night.

I don't know how it happened. It wasn't on purpose, and I hadn't made any special arrangements. Obviously, Mr Maggie May and I always aim to get to bed early so we can have that textbook amount of sleep during the week, but despite our good intentions, it never actually happens.

But it did happen. It just happened. And I could not believe how much of an effect it had on me.

{Disclaimer: regulars to The Secret Life of Maggie May will remember that I do have chronic fatigue syndrome - so, yeah, me harping on about how I need to get more sleep does seem a little obvious. But those of you who have read my candid posts about managing CFS/ME will know that I'm actually pretty bad at acknowledging my problem, and tend to pretend it doesn't exist.}

I can't say whether it was psychological, and if it was simply a placebo-effect which made me feel properly refreshed and rested every morning, but those early starts were less painful, I felt like I had more fuel to run off during the day, and by the evenings, I wasn't as tired and wiped out as usual.

My mental well being was better too - I felt chirpier, more relaxed, and chattered away like a monkey to Mr MM about how GREAT I felt now I was having more sleep.

I know, I know. I sound quite stupid - hey, guess what everybody? If you get more sleep at night, you feel less tired in the day! But is it really just me who puts 'getting the right amount of sleep' low down on the list of priorities - below getting the housework done, pinging off one last email, and scrolling through Pinterest yet again? I don't think so. I'm sure it's not just me who only falls into bed once the 'important' things are done, who accepts that 6 hours sleep during the week will simply have to do, and that you're only entitled to luxuriously long sleeps when you're a child and it's the school holidays.

Red Alarm Clock

I must apologise to those of you reading this post right now who, thanks to various reasons - hectic work schedules, suckling babes who fancy a snack every couple of hours, insomnia, early school runs, a body clock which just. will. not. stop. waking you at the crack of dawn - find this post, well, unhelpful. Me telling you all that sleep is great may hit a nerve {it's alright for some...} and doesn't change your situation, and I don't mean to rub it in your faces that I was lucky enough to have this luxury and you're not. But that's the point I want to make: sleep is a luxury, and some of us certainly need to stop underestimating it.

If you could bottle up the feeling that a good night's sleep gives you and sell it, you'd be a millionaire - so why do lots of us deny ourselves the opportunity to have this feeling for free? By putting the iPhone down half an hour earlier, admitting that you probably don't need to watch another episode of your latest favourite on Netflix, and accepting that it isn't actually the end of the world if you finish the washing up tomorrow instead {Mr MM, I'm looking at you}, you could make a really positive - easy - change to your everyday life. Even if you've got a work deadline to meet, a teething toddler, or exam revision, there will still be the odd occasion where you do have the chance to snatch an extra hour of precious sleep. Yes, a glass of wine would be lovely, or reading a few chapters of your book, or settling down to a good film - but don't underrate the option of just going to bed early.

I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here, or dish out health advice along with a recipe for turmeric tonic. If you're reading this and thinking that this all seems a little obvious, then great! You're well ahead of me. It might have taken me a while to realise, but from now on, I will be treating the concept of sleep with a bit more respect.

And with that, goodnight. See you in the morning {bright-eyed and bushy-tailed...}

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