THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

I didn't sleep well last night - or so I think



Have you ever experienced one of those nights where you feel as if you didn't sleep a wink? That, in spite of feeling tired when you turned out the lights, you tossed, turned and just couldn't get away?


That was me last night and when my alarm sounded this morning, I genuinely feel as if I have been hit by a shovel overnight - brain groggy and body aching with no sense of rest or recovery.


"Why?"


There's part of me that wishes I could pin the crime on some factor that would lead to either a mental or physical explanation.

  1. Am I worried?

  2. Did I eat or drink something that didn't agree with me?

The answer to both of those questions is an unequivocal "no".


The analyst might argue that I do have a worry that I'm not accepting as real.


The nutritionist might examine my intake during the day and exclaim "aha!"


I'm sat here this morning, feeling like a dog's dinner and bewildered as to why, after a long and busy shift in The Barrow Bunker yesterday, I didn't simply descend into a blissful unawareness soon after the lights went out.


Technology allows a closer examination. I've been wearing a Garmin Vivosmart for some time now, motivated by that curiosity we all have about our "under the bonnet" selves.


Here's what actually happened last night:



You'll see that my mind is actually playing tricks on me.


There was certainly a period around 00:30 to 01:00 this morning during which I was awake and lay in the dark wondering why I couldn't sleep (is there a problem? have I got Covid-19? did I hear a noise outside? there's a lot to do tomorrow. I need to lose some weight. I must give X a call. That new bookshelf needs building. Lots to do before Christmas. I wonder what next year will look like. My new trainers arrive tomorrow. The book I'm reading is very good but violent. Why is our internet so dodgy this week?).


In spite of me feeling as if that was most of the night - it was actually 13 minutes.


The facts don't lie - my problem last night wasn't lack of sleep - it was the lack of deep sleep.


My mind, however, has exaggerated that into a sleepless night.


Take a look at Thursday night last week to see the difference:


The same amount of time (almost to the minute). of total sleep.


The same time awake during the night - 12 minutes.


Almost an hour less of REM sleep (that's the part where the mind is working on dreaming).


But just over an hour of deep sleep that was missing from last night.


To summarise - it all boiled down to one hour when, instead of zoning completely out, I was internally building stories in my mind, rapid eye movements, faster pulse and all that.


I might not be worried but I may simply have too much going on - a sign that I need to focus and simplify - or perhaps my Hello Fresh stir fry was, in fact, just a tad too spicy?


Result - a sense of exhaustion this morning.


Which leads me to an interesting conclusion - that it's just as important to consider the quality of an experience as it is to consider the quantity.


I've committed to more sleep after reading Matthew Walker's "Why we sleep" last year but last night was a timely reminder that I didn't miss a night's sleep last night - I missed an hour's deep sleep - and yet I feel significantly below par this morning.


That's not going to stop me setting out for a 10km run shortly or, for that matter, putting in another full day's work.


Mind, body, spirit - we are the most unusual of creatures are we not?

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