I read an article recently all about getting away with stuff. Not, like, robbing banks or anything. But stuff that we could just about survive without worrying about. Like lying, which was one of the few examples given in the article of things that are actually not too bad for us. You’ll have to take my word for that of course.
Most of the things mentioned in the article ended up being quite bad for us. Inactivity: bad for you, can’t get away with it. Smoking: nope, can’t get away with it. Sunbathing: uh-uh, can’t get away with that either. The one that worried me though, was late nights. A lack of sleep can impair you to such an extent that you put yourself in danger, and that’s only after a relatively short amount of time without it. We become reckless, less alert and more impulsive. However, the most worrying thing is the cumulative effect of a lack of sleep. According to this article, in New Scientist, “sleeping for 6 hours a night instead of 8 for two weeks… produces the same cognitive deficits as going 24 hours without sleep”. But, we don’t notice. After a few days we will stop feeling quite as tired even though our bodies are going downhill.
So off to bed for me then.But it’s about quality as well as quantity. Screen time is another thing that we can’t really get away with, particularly just before bed. Everyone’s probably already aware of the blue light problem: our screens give off a lot of blue light and this reduces our ability to feel sleepy at night. This can be to such an extent that it causes insomnia in some people; but even if you still drop off, you are less likely to drop into REM sleep (according to a study referenced in the article).
The answer, it is suggested, is to limit your screen time, turning your devices off a couple of hours before you head to bed. I tried this, but by the time I got home, sorted things out, had dinner and then finally sat down to type something, I found that I had to –
– stop, and then start again the next day. So perhaps not that practical a solution. But then I had a much worse idea…
No coffee after four o’clock.
Yes, this has proven to be a really terrible idea.
Because, you see, I get up and I go to work. Sometimes I can sneak in a quick cup of coffee before I leave – nice coffee, because we’re terribly middle class and only buy nice coffee – but then I find myself at work. And at work we have really, really terrible coffee: a warm, brown liquid with some flavouring in it. I don’t know what flavouring, but I’m confident that it’s not coffee-flavoured. Stewed womble perhaps. And I drink loads of the stuff. And I pay 10p for every miserable mug of disappointment. And I regret every cup.
Then, by the time I get home – back to where the nice coffee lives – it has gone four and I am into my coffee curfew.
As I said, this is a terrible idea. But I’m sticking with it, all for the sake of my sleep. No coffee after four, no coffee after four, no coffee after four. It’s for my own good.
What would be better, though, would be to stop drinking the crap coffee as well, and an opportunity has presented itself to do just that. I am in a small circle of coffee fiends at work; we pool our 10 pence pieces and keep each other topped up with drinks throughout the day. Going cold turkey with my coffee colleagues in attendance is just too hard a feat to pull off. But they are all off on holiday for the next week. My caffeine clique is away and I might, just might, be able to break the hold of the coffee machine upon my person. I shall no longer be beholden to the bean. I shall take the plunge and give up the grounds.
It is a brave new world. A new leaf is about to be turned over.
But boy, am I going to be grumpy for the next couple of weeks; withdrawal symptoms, here we come. World, you have been warned.