Lent: Lend me some sleep

I completely forgot that it was pancake day today. Shrove Tuesday has come around so fast. It was only when my friend tweeted me asking what I intended to give up for lent, that I began to think about it.

Lent is traditionally about sacrificing something for 40 days and 40 nights, like Jesus did in that Desert where he faced all kinds of temptation. But, I’m not really one for fasting, if I don’t eat, I don’t move. And whenever I try to give something up I fail which always leads to great frustration. Plus the things I give up are so habitual, so ingrained in me that I have a tendency to forget that I’ve actually sacrificed them at all. In fact one year I attempted to give up tea, which was near impossible considering I drink about 5 cups a day. Bad. And I failed on the first day by buying an ice tea and drinking it before remembering.

So last year in the effort to make Lent a success,  my housemate and I decided to tackle it together. I made her give up salt and she made me give up mayonnaise.

I think giving up mayonnaise was possibly harder than the thought of going without tea for six long weeks. Mayonnaise is by far the most superior and delicious condiment  I love it so much, too much. I used to eat it with everything and anything. On meat, potatoes  pasta, chips, off a spoon. And my housemate used to put salt on everything, literally everything. Enough was enough.

It was hard. Having chips without the creamy accompaniment of mayonnaise. I think the pair of us lasted about 2 weeks before we called a truce, Holly running for her pot of salt and me running for my jumbo jar of Hellman’s mayo. Yum.

People give up all kinds of things, it’s meant to be a sacrificial thing Lent; a time of penitence and reflection. I think it’s meaning has been lost a little though, with ideas of loosing weight and becoming a healthier individual by giving up sugar for a while at the forefront of participants minds.

I’ve heard off some ridiculous Lent offerings in my time, let me tell you. A boy that I used to adore, a boy that I foolishly thought I would be with forever, gave up his bed for lent. Yes, you read that correctly. He slept on his floor for 40, uncomfortable nights. Perhaps one of the most bemusing boys I have ever, ever met. But it is this ridiculous lent sacrifice that prompted my February resolution. It involves a bed. Mine to be precise. It is to sleep. At the right times. For an appropriate length of time. To create a routine and get up in the morning, not the early afternoon. I am shortening my life by not sleeping correctly. So this Lent, will be about operation Reset my Body clock. Leaving my adolescent lie ins, in the past. For lent I am giving up going to bed after 11:30pm. I am giving up sleeping in past 9 o’clock. Here’s to sleep.

I stumbled across an article I wrote at University and thought I would share it with you. It seemed appropriate.

Sleep.  We all need it but we never seem to get enough, so why as Students are we so sleepy?

When I lived at home with my family and spent my days in a school uniform, my head would hit the pillow at around 10pm and wouldn’t rise again until the ungodly hour of 6am. But even with the recommended eight hours of sleep, my body still loathed the prospect of leaving the warm, nest that was my bed.

However when I came to Uni, with no parents nagging me to get to bed before the day was out, late nights were soon a regular occurrence. Soon enough 3am was my usual bedtime and I often went to sleep to the sound of birds singing. In fact I once managed to stay up until 8am just chatting with my housemates for no real reason other than simply because we could. Freedom and a lack of self control led to my sleep deprivation.

So many distractions and not enough hours in a day, make for a society bereft of sleep. The less sleep we have, the more impatient, irritable and angry we become. When I am exhausted I feel ridiculously emotional, not to mention frustrated at once again failing to meet my personal sleep needs.

Now, in my third year, I am once again stuck in the sleepless rut that comes with being a student and my average bedtime is between the hours of 11:30pm to 2am. Consequently trying to get up at 8am is virtually impossible making for disorganised days in which nothing seems to go to plan. I can’t help but feel jealous of those who have their sleeping priorities in order. But with my bedroom a place full of Facebook, 4od and an overwhelming amount of information drifting round my head, it’s surprising that I can ever switch off and relax enough for the Sandman to come and sprinkle sand on my eyes. The land of nod is not a place I spend enough time visiting.

What we seem to forget is that sleep is a basic human requirement. Yet unlike eating, we fail to schedule much time for it. As students we adopt a nocturnal habit, sleeping in the day and partying hard at night. Despite the fact that Canterbury is not renowned for its nightlife, students still go out, stumbling home in the early hours; hung-over and exhausted. Emerging the next day, in the middle of the afternoon, finding half the day gone, yet still feeling shattered. I’ve heard it said that the hours of sleep before midnight, are the ones that are the most important, so why aren’t any of us in bed?

I can only draw the conclusion that sleep is considered boring. Why lay dead to the world for approximately 8 hours a night, when you could be having a laugh with friends? Is sleep a waste of time? Or is it an escape from the outside world; a welcome release and chance for us to the use the time in which we are awake to greater effect? I want to be like the Duracell rabbit in that battery advert; charged up and ready to go, not flagging behind taking a nap during my favourite TV programme, or more ashamedly in a lecture.

After chatting to my friends about sleep, I am reassured that I am not the only failed sleeper in Canterbury. Sometimes sleep isn’t as practical and straightforward as it should be, especially now that I’m a third year, constantly faced with the daunting Future. That’s enough to ruin anyone’s body clock surely?

So this is why we’re so tired, we’re bankrupt in the slumber department. It’s not surprising then that we’re constantly consuming caffeine in the form of a Starbucks we can’t really afford or the cheaper option of Asda’s blue charge, in an effort to still the yawns and keep our eyes open.

But with deadlines approaching and exams on the horizon, it’s time to tackle this problem head on. I have decided that once 11 o’clock ticks by, the laptop will be switched off and a book brought out. Horlicks will replace the coffee and I’ll snuggle under the covers and wind down in preparation for what I hope will be a lot more than 40 winks; sleeping well so that my waking hours are a lot more worthwhile.

Well, there you have it. It’s a good job lent doesn’t start until tomorrow because it’s already 12:07am. Which is actually tomorrow, whoops! How did that happen? Tut tut and a slap on the wrist for moi.

I hope you have all had a splendid pancake day. I certainly did. All my activity at Zumba was for nothing because I came home and devoured two delicious pancakes, one with a banana and half a jar of Nutella in it, the other with a few quirts of lemon and a bag of sugar.  I am a pig.

What did you have in your pancakes? Pray tell!


Banana and nutella <3

Banana and nutella ❤

Citron et sucre

Citron et sucre

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