Fitbit fever is upon me. I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to steps. One of those people who drag the dog round and round the block if there is the slightest chance that I won’t make my ten thousand steps for that day.
So I am no newcomer to the wrist strap that shouts and bullies you into getting up as soon as you are settled. And what do you think I’m going to do – I’m in church for goodness sake – I can hardly get up and leave or, for that matter, wonder idly around during the sermon. But the new Fitbit is challenging me.
I love the shooting stars, the little encouragements and the tracking on my phone. But watching my sleep? A step too far. I am a novice where sleep is concerned. Until very recently I was of the opinion that sleep was an optional extra – something that you did out of necessity, briefly and under duress. Sleep was for sissies. How wrong can I be? Sleep is the most delicious thing ever invented.
I have a little function on my phone – on the same part as the alarm, you’ve probably got it too – that you can set to let you know when to go to bed – given what time you have to get up the next morning. Well, it was telling me to go to bed when I was still at work! For me, five hours was a good long night. Yes, I was tired, but so used to being tired that it was my norm.
I was used to coffee, Pro Plus and falling asleep every time I sat down. That was soon sorted though, I simply didn’t sit down. Then about six months ago, I was ill. I don’t mean I had a cold or flu or needed a day off. I was ill. Chest pain ill. A&E ill. I thought I was having a heart attack.
A new respect for sleep
Actually I wasn’t, I was just, quite simply, exhausted. But I had grown so used to sleep deprivation and not listening to my body that it had to shout really loud to be heard. I lost several days in a haze of aches, pains and febrile sleep. I lost weeks to feeling ghastly. Too ill to read, too shaky to function properly, I limped from day to day. I dragged myself around and eventually emerged. Ever since then I have been obsessed with bed time.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a workshop (at The Guardian no less!) and it finished at my bed time. It was 9.30pm and there I was in the middle of London. I live in the Fens. Cinderella hasn’t got a patch on me. I got over myself, got home – by train, no gold carriage for me – and fell into bed. The next day was torment – to think that I used to feel like that all the time.
I read ‘Why we sleep’ by Matthew Walker and my conversion was complete. The scientific evidence is compelling and removes any lingering doubts about the efficacy and necessity of good sleep, every night – as a priority.
So why don’t I love my Fitbit at night? It can produce a lovely graphic about how much sleep of every level I get every minute of every might. It tells me when I was awake in the night and for how long. And there’s the rub. I found myself, not only lying awake plotting the next chapter of my novel but also wondering what my Fitbit was going to say in the morning. Talk about Big Brother.
Then I really panicked. What would it do if I had a passionate episode?! Would it watch and record that too? At that point I took it off. It flashed angrily at me but I am a strong woman and I simply put it down on my bedside table.
In the morning I gaily put it back on my wrist and we were off. I didn’t even look at the night and it was never mentioned again.