"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care. The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath. Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, Chief nourisher in life's feast."
Yup – That's Shakespeare. It so very often is. That's from the Scottish Play. What is often forgotten in this quotation is that it comes immediately after the line, "Macbeth does murder sleep."
When I was in my mania periods, back in the bad old days before medication, I was rather proud of the way I could do without sleep. I could function for weeks on three and a half hours a night. I would cheerfully murder sleep.
Of course, the moment I came out of the high and slid down that garderobe slope into the dungeon of depression, I could sleep for seventeen hours a day; and frequently did.
Even recently I was still spending hours awake during the night. At three in the morning I would text friends all around the world. "I am concerned for your health," replied Raz, it being either 9am or 9pm for him. "You should be in the sweet embrace of Morpheus, not conversing with me."
I was unconcerned. So long as I could still function, did it matter that I did not or could not sleep?
But then I read of recent research which suggests that a lack of sleep could seriously shorten your life and certainly adversely affect your health. Turns out, old Will knew what he was talking about.
So, I started to develop a more disciplined sleep routine. I know this does not work for everyone, and I know that there are some (many?) of you who feel you have tried everything to get a good night's sleep and yet still you lie awake, tormented by your thoughts. I do not wish to patronise you with these ideas.
Our day as a family starts at 5.45am, when I stumble out of bed to wake the girls who are blissfully sleeping through their alarms. (How can they do that, if their alarms wake me at the other end of the house through two closed doors?) Working back from that, I try to be in bed by 10pm with lights out at 10.30pm. To facilitate this, the phone and computer get switched off at 9.30pm and I have a snack of slow release carbohydrates to stop me waking hungry in the night. A gentle wind down, warm shower and cosy pyjamas are all part of this process.
And no – it doesn't work all the time. It doesn't take into account evenings spent out. It doesn't account for that really good book I can't put down until my Kindle falls forward and bats me on the nose. It doesn't account for waking up at 1.30am for no good reason.
But it has worked enough for me to feel the benefits, and to recommend the regime to others.
What sleep routine would you recommend?
A Moodscope member.