Amy Jenkins: Sleep deprivation and a world turned on its head

Post-poll disorder

Share
Related Topics

What a day yesterday was. Politics in a pickle and no one in my household had slept a wink. By 10am, just the sight of David Dimbleby's face was enough to bring on covert overwrought weeping and the longing for a father figure. (Why can't he just run the country, I couldn't help thinking.)

I wasn't the only one feeling tired. This has been an election of the sleep-deprived. Brown struggled through the final TV debate with eyes as pink as a startled rabbit's – no doubt he'd been kept up all night by Bigotgate. Then Cameron pulled his famous all-nighter, a piece of stunt electioneering if ever there was one, while Clegg has been saying his greatest health fear is sleep deprivation. (His mother thinks he looks tired when she sees him on telly.) I'm not surprised.

Stress, anxiety, adrenalin, cortisol – these are all the enemies of sleep. I should know, not having slept much for three nights. Have I been tirelessly campaigning? Have I been touring the country on a battle bus? No, sorry, nothing glamorous. I've just been really, really anxious. On Tuesday night, I did a spot of canvassing for Sadiq Khan in his Tooting Labour marginal. (Yes we Khan! And, yes he did hold his seat, although with a smaller majority.) It was great to get out there and the reality of the election brought home – but, the fact is, since then, I haven't been able to rest easy.

It felt like we were on the brink somehow – but not just a brink – a cliff – a very steep drop into the unknown. Things were going to change. It wasn't clear how, but it was definitely going to be the end of an era. I found myself making plans to meet friends and wondering whether – when next week came – the buses would still be running. That fear man has had since the beginning of time that the world is about to end – well, it was upon me.

By Thursday I was crying over the news headlines. Events in Greece seemed horribly alarming. Was the EU going to be brought down? The world as I knew it seemed to be crumbling. By the time election night arrived, I was far too tired and overwrought to go out to any parties. I slumped on the sofa wrapped in a blanket, watching Outnumbered, and waiting for the exit polls.

By 12.30am – none the wiser – I downed some Night Nurse in an effort to turn off my brain. Failed. Up again at 3am to see how things were going. Stared blearily at the swingometer before staggering back to bed for another couple of hours before being woken at six by a loud cry of cock-a-doodle-do (my four-year-old).

A few hours later I went to buy bread and, suddenly, the anxiety bubble burst. I was even tempted to giggle. My local café was still there. The buses juddered past. All was business as usual. I nodded hello to a few familiar local faces. They all looked normal, breezy, sunny even. These cunning people have just ignored the election, I thought to myself. They've voted, they've caught a few moments of news – but they've cleverly realised that life goes on regardless. They haven't been seduced by the media maelstrom. They're not staggering about in a state of sleep-deprived zombiedom like me and the party leaders.

A meta-study out this week says that sleep deprivation is a serious business – it can even lead to premature death. And tellingly, experts also say that feelings of great optimism and delusions of grandeur are other classic symptoms. My feelings weren't optimistic but I've clearly been a drama queen. Might I suggest, then, that everyone responsible for sorting out this muddled election should get lots of sleep before they rush into any big decisions.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum