Don’t lose sleep over a tracker

Jennie Ridyard

Jennie Ridyard

As anyone who’s ever been told ‘you look tired’ knows, this is debilitating, whether coming from a person or a machine.

Going to bed with me is a sexy experience. Just ask Himself. Fluffy top, leggings, an old T-shirt underneath, a thick layer of Eulactol on my feet, alpaca socks, wax ear plugs, and then a bite plate to stop me grinding my teeth.

“Night, Rocky,” he says, as he puts his book down and pops in his own bite plate. “Night, Champ,” I reply, and then I snuggle down in my cocoon of wooliness, switch off my light and go to sleep. It’s bliss.

Insomnia? Why would I let a stupid thing like that get in the way of sleep? Yet there was a time when I struggled to sleep, jumping awake at every passing car, at every snore, my own included. Enter the ear plugs. But, as every insomniac can attest, it’s harder to slow a noisy brain down, so I tried monitoring my sleep on a fitness tracker. Invariably it reported back I’d had a bad night.

As anyone who’s ever been told “you look tired” knows, this is debilitating, whether coming from a person or a machine. There you are, getting on with stuff until it’s implied that you’re off-form, that you might be sleep-deprived, and immediately you start thinking perhaps you didn’t sleep so well after all.

I’d wake up, check my stats, and learn I’d only had two hours of deep sleep, with the rest spent thrashing about like a drowning woman. Before my feet hit the carpet, I was exhausted, anticipating the endless day literally yawning ahead, willing it to be over so I could try to get some sleep. Then I’d lie awake worrying about it.

However, my experience is far from unique. It’s an actual medical thing, this sleep tracker effect. It even has a name: orthosomnia – micromanaging this most natural of activities, sleep, and then catastrophising into the small hours about how much you’re not getting. So I ditched my tracker.

Happily, I also mastered – and highly recommend – a dull little game guaranteed to trick the monkey mind into boredom. I go through the alphabet, naming all the fruit and vegetables I can for each letter. I’m really good at A – artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, apple, apricot – but by the time I get to D, I’m generally failing, and failing means winning: damson, dragon fruit, dozzzzing…

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