I was with my parents yesterday, and I idly mentioned that I didn’t like my pillows. Cut to half-an-hour later, and I’m stood in the home furnishings store Dreams, chatting to a manager who was quite obviously enjoying being him.
I’ve never tried pillows before. I mean, I’ve slept on them, I mean I’ve never… sampled them. It was an awkward experience, but then, I’m an awkward guy… it’s kind of my brand. I tried pillow after pillow, each a little nicer, and each a little more expensive, and then boom, or I should say, floomph; my head laid down on some sort of memory foam temperature controlled thing… I wasn’t paying attention, it just felt like I’d rested my head on contentment.
I’m a single guy and I have a double bed, so £198 lighter, I left the shop with two pillows. Yep. Just the two. Pillows. I spent £200 on pillows. Two of them. For my head.
So, why? Well, let me answer that by spooling back a bit. As we went into Lockdown I (the prequel to Lockdown II: Virulent Boogaloo), I told myself I wanted to “come out of it better than when I came in”. That meant a few things: eating better, drinking less, exercising way more, and being kinder to myself.
And I kind of nailed it, to be honest. It wasn’t easy… April was really tough, but as the months rolled on, I got a bit more into looking after myself, and started making better decisions. But I never conquered sleep.
I’ve now backslid significantly, after a run of diets, allergic reactions, food poisoning, a covid scare and some sort of weird foot injury that has kept me from my regular workouts, which I’d been at major pains to work into my routine. I’ve kept the self-compassion and support, but want to set myself up for positive change the best way I can.
The more I read and hear from people I trust, the more I’ve come to see the importance of sleep. Sleep tracking is also something people have got into, with advancements in wearables and such, but I’m less bothered by that. I know I’ve had a crappy night’s sleep because… well, I can remember things from the previous night.
So when the opportunity arose to improve my sleep dramatically, it felt like an absolute no-brainer. Not a cast-iron guarantee of course — I mean, my cat still wakes me up at almost exactly the same 4 o’clock every morning — but a fairly safe bet.
So, I did what I have been doing for the last few weeks, in that I climbed into bed with a booze in one hand, and too much cheese in the other, watched an hour of TV and then went to sleep.
And I slept, and the sleeping was good. I overslept, in fact, meaning my day’s productivity was shunted back by an hour. I wasn’t overly tired from the night before, I was just really enjoying being in bed, with my head properly supported, and thus my whole body in the right shape. Yes, I did still get woken up at 4 by Bailey, so there’s still that problem to be solved, but my sleep comfort is improved, and possibly as importantly, I’m looking forward to getting my head down again.
So, in case this is a drum whose beat you’ve not heard a lot, I wanted to add to the rhythm. Yes it’s only one night of course, so don’t use me as a data point, but do think about ways you can improve your sleep. And I don’t mean track your sleep and look at a graph, but actually take proactive steps to improve it.
I edited a podcast episode this week with a finance leader who brought up the importance of sleep hygiene. It’s all stuff we should already know and probably do know, but I doubt many of us implement. And we should.
I’m probably still going to have one too many screens around me just before bedtime, but I do tend to go to bed around the same time every night and I almost always get up at the same time every morning (because I have two furry alarm clocks). My routines could do with some improvement, but the biggest thing for me is the quality and comfort of sleep, which is why I think it was worth it to spend too much money on pillows.
So that’s my story. Are you doing anything to improve your quality of sleep? Let me know by leaving a comment on this post. Oh, and I’ll also take advice on how to stop a cat from crying at exactly 4 in the morning.
Speak to you next week, and sweet dreams.