There’s one thing that I wish for – aside from guaranteed good health and a lottery win – that would improve my quality of life no end. I would love to be a morning person. To bounce out of bed ready to face the day, to enjoy leisurely breakfasts on school days, to get things done while others slumber.
I read an article the other day which claimed getting up at 5am was the key to career success, citing CEOs, magazine editors and the Mayor of London as shining examples of the go-getting, early-bird brigade. There’s even a London-based art salon that caters to these sleep-dodgers, the Brutally Early Club, which kicks off at 6.30am.
Alas, rather than art and ambition, the only things that get me out of bed are fear and coffee. I sleep as though I’m a blind, earless fish at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, with my staggered alarms dragging me, thrashing and unwilling, to the surface. I would love to be able to get up an hour before I have to, to read the papers peacefully and go for a jog: but that’s not enough, when push comes to shove and head has to leave pillow, to actually do it.
Doubly annoying is that I’m no night owl either. I can’t stay up late and I hate getting up. I’m less a lark and more a sloth. Luckily, my husband is equally addicted to sleep – his years of child-related sleep deprivation long over, what with his daughter finally understanding the joys of a lie-in – so at least, come the weekend, we’re both in sync (and in bed for as long as possible). It’s not just the late Baroness Thatcher’s politics that I found unpalatable – her four-hours-a-night sleep patterns were deeply suspicious.
Differing sleep patterns can be a sticking point in a relationship. My stepmother, an insomniac, is driven to distraction by my father’s ability to sleep anywhere, anytime (as a young man about town, he managed to fall asleep standing up in a nightclub, pint in hand) and views his afternoon naps with the sort of dismay you might expect if he was taking Class A drugs. It’s no wonder she gets the hump: recent studies suggest that after seven nights of insufficient (fewer than seven hours a night) sleep, more than 700 genetic changes can be observed, which could play a role in increased heart problems and obesity.
Writing this fresh from an afternoon nap, bleary of eye and with a tell-tale crease down my face from the pillow, perhaps my love of REM (the type of sleep, rather than the band) isn’t such a character flaw and will mean I live longer. Which means I’ll have more time for some shut-eye.