Spring deprivation and not getting enough sleep

It’s Spring!

Well actually, no, it’s not remotely spring yet. But I did see my first green shoots today, only a month later than last year. (They were in St James’s Square.)

And when the sun comes out (which it does, sometimes, for a few minutes), I sometimes imagine that I can feel spring in the air. I can’t, of course – it’s just the relief of seeing a glint of sunlight after so much grey.

But it’s nearly the end of January, and I’m beginning, if not exactly to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, to congratulate myself on having got a good chunk of the winter under my belt. It could still get a lot worse of course, and it might stay cold and nasty well into March, or even April, but the big hurdle of January is just about behind me. Childishly desperate not to be seen as weak or girly, I vowed not to take a single day off – and I compensated for this by promising myself untold hedonism and hibernation at the weekends. And I’ve done pretty well. There are two days to go. And my weekends have been positive orgies of good food, good wine, good company, and lots and lots and lots of sleep.

But the weekdays have been another matter. I read a scary article the other day (I really must start linking to sites other than the Guardian), about how children get far too little sleep these days, and how it’s making them less intelligent, more prone to obesity, etc., and there was a paragraph at the end that talked about an experiment performed on adults, where they were limited to six hours’ sleep per night. After two weeks, they all said they felt fine, but tests showed them to be in the same state as someone who’d been awake for 24 hours straight.

And I very rarely get more than six hours’ sleep per night! It’s a bad habit, bred (ironically) by laziness (much easier to gawp at a laptop till midnight than to rush around getting ready for bed by 10pm). I’m slightly amazed that I’m even able to stay awake this long – when I first started couriering, I was unable to keep my eyes open past 10pm, and was usually incapable of coherent speech or thought by 9pm. None of my friends saw me for weeks. I had never experienced such complete mental and physical exhaustion. But now I’m virtually back to normal – going to bed at midnight and getting up at 6.30am, just like people who have nothing to do but sit in an office all day.

But clearly this is nowhere near enough. And I’m suddenly worried about the effect this sleep deprivation must be having on me. I just had a phone conversation with a friend in which I repeatedly had to apologize for forgetting what I was talking about midway through a sentence. And, more seriously, if I’m really as out-of-it as someone who’s had no sleep at all, my judgement and reactions are probably in no shape to be cycling round in traffic all day. I’m becoming an expert in all the different stages of exhaustion – the sleepiness, the dizziness, the grumpiness, the shiveriness, the clumsiness, the weepiness, the itchiness, the achiness; the feeling that all your physical and mental defence mechanisms have been sanded down to nothing.

It’s 9.33pm now. I’m going to try and be in bed by 10pm. I really am…


One Response to “Spring deprivation and not getting enough sleep”

  1. I can’t go on, I’ll go on « thatmessengerchick Says:

    […] reactions, and impaired judgement. I’ve talked about this before, in relation to sleep deprivation. It’s more dangerous than you think, and of course, because […]

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