I didn’t sleep well last night.

Now for a change the cause of my restless night wasn’t an over active attention seeking child, but this is often the case, nor was it the neighbours alarm, or an over amorous wife, wasn’t even an amorous wife to be honest. The cause was my over active mind, rehearsing and modifying a speech for Toastmasters  while I tried to settle myself to sleep.

I headed to bed last night around 11 after getting the kids settled, house tidied up and relaxed a bit watching TV. I was tired walking up the stairs, yesterday was a busy day, but as soon as I lay down. BANG! Wide awake again, despite almost falling asleep at 7 when I brought my son to bed, now my brain filled, and then again this morning before 6 I was wide awake I was remunerating the words of the speech, checking I remembered it, wondering about humour, stance, gestures would I be able to pull it off, would I remember it all, would I spend half the speech looking at my feet trying to remember what comes next.

How would I handle memory lapses which inevitably happen… Now like many I have suffered from insomnia on and off over the years. I not only have difficulty getting to sleep at times but I also would wake during the night sometimes for what feels like hrs. I know when I woke this morning after a while I checked the clock and it was 4.01 am, and after at least 2 hrs had passed I checked again and it was 4:05.

Now maybe its’ partially because I use to get up at 5:30 am and would survive on only 5-6 hrs sleep a night. So I got use to surviving on little sleep between work commitments, study and especially over recent years restless, teething kids.  

I had lots of other people, leaders to look towards who seemed to survive and thrive on little sleep. Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Madonnna, even our own Bill Cullen have professed the advantages of sleeping only 4-6 hrs per night.

But I’ve now learnt about that sleep is not an indulgence, One of the things that the brain does is indulge in micro-sleeps, this involuntary falling asleep, and you have essentially no control over it. Now, micro-sleeps can be sort of somewhat embarrassing, but they can also be deadly.

So when you’re tired, and you lack sleep, you have poor memory, you have poor creativity, you have increased impulsiveness, and you have overall poor judgment. Which explains why I need to find new people to look up to as leaders.

Now not everybody suffers with a lack of sleep, Suzanne Harrington from the Irish Independent, bestowed her wisdom, in an article last September. She reckons that we can solve our sleep problems by making a few lifestyle changes.

Vigorous exercise is recommended, and do you know what… sometimes it works and sometimes I sit thinking that I really need to make a proper training plan, how can I squeeze in another run during the week, how can I get away with getting another run in during the week?

I also tried Yoga, there’s a great app on my phone which shows all the different positions and takes you through a Yoga work out. But then my daughter seen me doing it during the day and wanted to join in, which is grand in theory… if you have the time to explain all the positions and make her happy by checking that she is doing them right. When I did work out in the evening when she had gone to bed I was getting strange looks from my wife, and also the neighbours as they were walking by the house.

Now I have cut out caffeine in the evenings, at least from my tea and I have a good book, in fact I have quite a few good books. I’ve had to stop buying newspapers during the week in an attempt to get around to reading some of these good books, but with housework, TV, facebook and Blogs I hardly get any time to read a good book. In fact I tell you the problem with this “a good book” idea, my wife and daughter love to read a good book before bed. My daughter has been known to read 3 good books before, we stop her, take the books away and try and get her to sleep. Only to find her half an hr later still awake thinking about this exciting good book that she has been reading and wants to discuss it with you.

Meditation doesn’t work for me, my mind keeps wondering off to other things, speeches, conversations and the only other suggestion Suzanne has is orgasm… don’t see that happening too often, I’m a married man!

So it seems that I’m a little stuck because I enjoy technology, TV, the stress of preparing a speech and everything else that life brings. At least some nights I manage to get a decent nights sleep, without interruption… but maybe not tonight.