I haven't been sleeping enough. I keep seeing articles on the internet which talk about the importance of sleep for a healthy lifestyle and have slightly guiltily ignored them. However, getting the chance to catch up on sleep while we were away made me realise just how much consistently sleeping too little had affected me. I was tired and dragging, and my brain was in a perpetual fog. I assumed it was just overload, but no, I'm pretty sure now it was lack of sleep.
I have only myself to blame. I am no longer in the perpetually tired, nights interrupted by small children stage, where too little sleep is all but inevitable. These days the lack of sleep is because I simply don't go to sleep early enough, given that my alarm is usually set for 6.30. I am not too bad at going to bed - being married to an early bird helps there - but the temptation to take advantage of some quiet, uninterrupted time to stay awake reading or playing on the iPad is too great and often I don't settle down to go to sleep until midnight or later. And I have to admit it. Six to six and a half hours sleep is just not enough. I don't tend to catch up at weekends either as the small daughter typically wakes me up sometime between 6.30 and 8 (usually earlier rather than later!).
So, what to do? The consensus seems to be that most adults need 7 to 8 hours sleep a night. I can't see 8 being realistic for me - being asleep by 10.30 would seem like Not Enough Evening, plus my 16 year old is usually in bed by 11 but not 10.30, and as the shower is in the ensuite bathroom to our bedroom and bedtime is often her needy time (is this a typical teenage thing?), going to sleep before 11 is not likely to happen on a regular basis. I have decided to aim to settle down for sleep at 11, but with an absolute deadline of 11.30. I suspect it would be better if I stopped using the iPad at 10.30, but can't quite screw myself up to that.
One small tip I read somewhere last week which I have tried for the last couple of nights is not to look at the clock when I wake during the night. The clock / alarm / speaker-dock I have next to the bed has a facility to turn the display off, so I have been using this. It works! For example, I suspect - but didn't check, so couldn't be sure - that I woke sometime between 6 and 6.30 this morning. Usually I would go through the thought process of suspecting I would not get back to sleep, often followed by deciding it wasn't worth trying. This morning I dismissed any thoughts about the time, went back to sleep, and ended up sleeping until 9 (small person woke up but stayed in bed late. Joy!). Some nights I wake and end up clock watching, so I intend to keep going with this and see if it does make a difference longer term.