I am a world-champion sleeper. Having spent much of my 20s working shift-work (hello to those in the health sector and other 24hr businesses), I trained myself to go to sleep very quickly on certain cues. Unfortunately one of those cues is turning onto my stomach, which now results in neck pain the next day, but still, I usually go to sleep within about 30 seconds of going to bed. If I am awake for five minutes I think something is wrong.
However, every so often I go through a bout of insomnia. For me this means I go to sleep as usual but wake early – really early. One REM cycle (4hrs) is about it. Those of you who suffer this affliction on an ongoing basis, have my sympathy. We all know about the impact of lack of sleep on daytime activities, concentration, energy levels and body sensations.
However when, as I do, your insomnia is short-lived, there can be an upside.
1. I am incredibly productive at 4am.
2. There are no distractions. No phone calls, few emails coming in – I can concentrate on the task at hand.
3. Even Social Media is slow at this hour of morning. Of course the internet being worldwide, there is still movement but it tends to be the newscasts and newsblogs I have subscribed to, not personal messages. Less compelling.
4. Procrastination seems pointless when you have time to kill, hence I am getting uni assignments in before their due date. Yes really, I find it pretty stunning as well.
5. The peace and quiet gives you head space for thought (and not just the thought “why can’t I sleep”). Longer, non-interrupted thoughts that allow you to think about larger topics.
6. This is an excellent time for planning.
7. You know pretty much how long you have got to achieve whatever it is before the rest of the house begins to rise / you have to start preparing for the day. This helps to focus on tasks.
8. Enforced quietness (so you don’t wake anyone else) is good for thought and relaxation. It brings you much more “inside your head” instead of focussed externally.
9. It is quite nice hearing the birds rise in the morning and sing. I haven’t quite got to watching a sunrise yet.
10. At about 5.30am a few of my friends and work colleagues appear online and suddenly I start getting answers to emails. It is like a secret early-morning club.
What do you do when you can’t sleep?