Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been suffering intense sleep deprivation in the past three weeks. But the funny thing is, I have never felt more alert.
After dragging myself sluggishly and reluctantly through the initial few days of no sleep, I suddenly hit my stride: as though my system realised, with a shock, that five hours a night might just be it from now on, and it better get with the program.
Since then, I have been on fire. I have heard entrepreneurs like Richard Branson et al sing the praises of limiting sleep in the past, but thought they were just a little off in the head: all that money has to have some sort of effect on your mental capacity, after all.
But, nope, turns out it’s true. I get more done than ever before, my mind is fizzing with ideas, I am THE person to turn to if you want a quick idea or help with an onerous task… It’s amazing. But precarious. I am obsessed with keeping the old, slothful, no-less-than-nine-hours-a-night-will-do me at bay.
It’s sort of like in the past when I have successfully dieted, and managed to shrink my usually insatiable appetite: I will look on apprehensively at the next dinner out, party, or “season of eating” (Christmas, Easter, race days, etc) which is bound to result in an indulgence, thus tripping the switch of my slumbering hunger.
I am afraid of lie-ins. If I yawn in the early evening, I immediately find something to do, to ensure my mind is alert and not allowed to drift into thoughts of slumber.
The fact I am not even drinking caffeine makes it all the more difficult.
One night, I tell myself, one night of a big sleep and it’s over: the alert, fizzy, you is gone and the plodding, placid you returns: no more super-efficient work output, spotless house… granted, no more micro-sleeps over the computer either, but we all make sacrifices.
Is there a name for this? I have always had an addictive personality, and, having managed to kick most of the vices – caffeine, nicotine, cake – is this my new one? Am I addicted to staying awake?