26 Oct 2017

Boing! goes Zebedee. Do you remember it? If so you are probably English and of a certain age. Zebedee, a Zorro-like puppet, appeared regularly in the children's TV programme 'The Magic Roundabout' in the 1960s. His closing line, at the end of the show, was usually 'Time for bed'.

Bedtime is a big issue for me. For many years, I've found it hard to go to bed at a reasonable time. 'Reasonable' for me would be around 10 or 10.30, allowing me time to footle around, spend the full two minutes cleaning my teeth, read for a while, and then fall asleep some time before 11.30. That would mean I could get up at 7.30 having had eight whole hours of sleep – what luxury! And hopefully I would face the day feeling fresh and enthusiastic - perhaps even remembering some colourful dreams that had waited until my last hour of sleep to show themselves.

What happens instead? I usually find reasons to look at the computer after 9.30 – so then that turns into at least 11 pm before I am even thinking of getting to bed. By then I am hungry again, so it's time for a 'little' snack, and let's face it, it would be even nicer with a glass of wine – oh, and there happens to be a bottle open already, how convenient! Well, now it's gone midnight, so I may as well read for a bit to calm myself down. And what do you know, it's 1 o'clock – again, another late night. Is anyone else familiar with this sequence?

During this process, if I paid close attention, I would notice the tension in me. Something is wrong. Perhaps I've been disappointed – a friend hasn't rung, or I've performed badly in some way, and am feeling down about myself. Or I've made a massive to-do list today, and have carried on with it long after I was too tired to do things effectively.

The main thing is, rather than notice my tension early on, I am unconsciously trying to blank it out by distracting myself, with the computer, the TV, or perhaps sudoku. And I'm addicted to an online form of Boggle, which can easily keep me up til 2 in the morning even though my scores are appalling (there's always the hope that I will finally get a respectable one, if I just keep trying!).

What to do about this? One thing I have noticed is that building in some 'me' time earlier in the day brings powerful benefits later the same day. I don't feel resentful or cheated of 'my' time by whatever has happened during the day. I don't feel a need to cram in some 'me' time before I go to bed, although nowadays I find that I often fit some in just naturally.

Another thing that has helped is to adopt an affirmation of "I'm looking forward to tomorrow". At first it wasn't necessarily true, but it did switch my attention to thinking ahead hopefully, rather than looking back at what didn't go well today.

Do you have problems around getting to bed? If so, please share any tips for what has helped you. I'm still building up my toolkit for this one and would love some help!


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