I’m not a morning person. Waking up involves tactical war games between mind and body. Each crusader is equally determined on their mission: the mind tries to peel limbs from the sheets; the body burrows its bones in duvets, more stubborn in its refusal to move than guards at Buckingham palace.
The mind always wins – because the working day looks on, licking its lips or stretching its muscles – but the battle can last for an hour, with no one but the snooze button to adjudicate.
It would seem I am not alone. Tiredness is competing with weather in the banal conversation stakes. And, since research revealed 40 per cent of us kip for less than six hours a night – and linked fatigue to heart conditions and depression – a mass of sleep gadgets and consultants circle London’s zombie nation.
I blame myself for my sleepy head because – going by the eight hour rule – my deficit rivals George Osbourne’s. But ‘meditation and personal development centre’ Inner Space thinks there’s more to restfulness than a number.
‘Tiredness is a messenger calling for something to change,’ says Karen Dowd, speaker at Tackling Tiredness, one of Inner Space’s many free spiritual seminars. Her philosophy? Feeling sluggish should be a wake up call, not something we accept resignedly like wrinkles.
Some of her suggestions – deteching two hours before bed; exercising; alcohol abstinence – are predictable and, let’s be honest, either not realistic, or decidedly dull. If tiredness were the price for vodka-laced kissing or dancing with friends to Fleetwood Mac like unstable fawns, I’m sure (most of us) would willingly pay it.
But Karen also prescribes change and curiosity: ‘A lot of tiredness arises because we feel stagnant. It’s easy for us to habitually slip into repetitive thoughts, which tire our minds.’
To avoid treading mental water, she suggests dismantling routines: walk a different way to the tube or buy your lunch from somewhere new. ‘Notice your surroundings and stop suppressing your creative self; if you don’t create windows for change, it won’t happen.’
But however free your inner creative heroine roams, if you’re straddling day and night on two hours of shut-eye, you’ll probably topple. Because everyone’s lifestyles differ, Karen recommends keeping diaries which monitor your sleeping hours, to help find your magic slumber number.
Squinting through heavy lashes the morning after the talk, I’d be lying if I said my mind and body had called a truce, but they might just be beginning negotiations.
Inner Space Covent Garden
36 Shorts Gardens
Tel: 020 7836 6688
Inner Space The City
33-34 Chiswell Street,
Image by Jonf728 courtesy of Flickr