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Kate Simpkins

Sleep your way to a better life?

Had trouble getting out of bed recently?
If you wake up and struggle to leave your warm and cosy duvet you are experiencing a common winter morning trauma. With many people opting to take a Duvet Day rather than struggle to work, Kate Simpkins looks at why it’s so hard to ge out of bed, what we can do about it and why ultimately lying-in is so good for us. It’s so easy to give yourself ten more minutes in bed in the morning. The alarm goes off and the first thought for the day is ‘just ten more minutes’. It happens to most of us, at least occasionally.

But right now, in the depths of the winter months, there seems to be an epidemic of lie-ins. Over the last few weeks not a day has gone by without one of my work colleagues complaining about how hard it was to get out of bed that morning. Some gave themselves an extra ten minutes, some an extra half-hour, and in the most severe cases, a Duvet Day.

A Duvet Day is of course, a day spent under your duvet. Even if we’re not actually daring enough to take one, the popularity of the phrase is proof enough that some days we’re all longing to just stay in bed. This morning was a classic example for my boyfriend and I. We must have hit the snooze button at least seven times, and with seven minutes between each snooze we notched up an extra 49 minutes in bed. So why is it proving so difficult to get out of bed? The obvious answer this time of year is the weather. If it’s cold and grey outside it becomes a mammoth task to leave a warm and cosy duvet. Or it could be that we simply need more sleep. A recent study in the medical journal the Lancet, found that the average night’s sleep in the UK is now about 90 minutes less than it was in the 1920s, when it was 9 hours per night.

It’s worth a try, but I can’t imagine many people waking up this time of year and feeling like they’ve had enough of being snuggled up in bed. So maybe we should try some alternative ways of making the early morning winter wake up less traumatic.

One idea is to get a bigger bed. The world’s largest bed measures 20 feet by 15 feet. Made by Sleepeezee in 1993 it could completely energise and wake us up while still lying down. All we would have to do is fall asleep on one side of the bed and then roll 15 feet across to the other side to get out in the morning. Or we could all rush out and buy the latest fad in alarm cloaks.

From the USA, they are alarms that tell a truly terrible joke every morning. They could have us all jumping out of bed in a panic before the dreaded punch line. Or we could just stick to the traditional method of setting cloak times early. So when the clock says 7am it’s really 6.30am giving us half an hour’s fake lie-in to enjoy. There is no need to feel guilty either. Not only are we snug in bed, we can also feel smug. For one, sleep is slimming. Moisture loss while sleeping adds up to as much as half a pint from the average adult.

Australian psychologists have also discovered that lie-ins tend to be taken by the more intelligent among us. The researchers took 400 volunteers who divided themselves into ‘morning types’ or ‘evening types’. Each was then subjected to mental agility and memory tests and the ones who stayed up later, and lolled in bed longer, came out best. So there we have it, for the good of everyone, Britain’s winter working hours should be changed to midday starts. No more New Year obsessions with dieting, sleep is slimming. No more slow starts to the day, Lie-in’s increase intelligence, and no more duvet days.

© Kate Simpkins 2001

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