Two fifty-two am sounds like a brutal time to start the day, and it is. But I went to bed at 10.30, and have had over four hours’ sleep, so it’s okay.
After almost nine years of this shit, I have worked out that four hours is the threshold between lunacy and lucidity (not set in stone, so I may wobble over that line and back again today, even within this post.) The Four Hour Rule was a discovery from the early ’00s when my babies clucked and squawked their way through the night at 45 minute intervals.
Still, Margaret Thatcher famously only needed four hours a night to savage the country. As Maggie would say: sleep is for losers.
(She didn’t, actually. Though on more than one occasion, rumour has it that after yet another night huddled over her despatch box, husband Denis would snap: ‘Woman! Bed!’).
Another apposite quote. When Napoleon Bonaparte was asked how much sleep a person should need, he is said to have replied: ‘Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool.’
Does that make me a superhero?
Sarah is my sister-in-law, a GP and all-round lovely person. Not so long ago, she tried to give me some advice on this early waking thing. She stole some precepts from Gina Ford, the maternity nurse who has passed into legend for advocating a strict and controversial timetabled routine for babies.
– Try going to bed later, said Sarah, reasonably. You might wake up later, and then your days might be more in line with the rest of the world.
So for a few days in a row, I turned off my light at midnight. It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. I was STILL awake at two or three am. So I canned that idea.
Anyway. Back to my early wake-up this morning. There’s not a great deal you can do at 2.52am. At around four, I tend to start messaging with my friend Marian, who lives in LA. I still had a couple of hours to fill.
So I googled Maggie Thatcher.
Here’s a brief look at how the rest of my day will be (and by extension, most of my other days.) I’ll normally have a cup of Earl Grey at four or five, and hold out for breakfast around six thirty. I used to be so hungry I ate toast at 3.30am, but I don’t do that any more.
Until I started writing journalism again, my days were filled with two online courses: one for fiction and another for advertising copywriting. Now I have to juggle the three. Then there are Twitter and Facebook: rich worlds which didn’t seem to hold the same opportunity when I was last ‘awake’ in 2010.
Sometimes in the afternoon I need to get away from screens and technology. So I take myself for walks around the beautiful fields (hitherto undiscovered) five minutes walk from the house.
By five pm I am craving a big glass of Pinot Grigio, which is not as ‘bad’ as it sounds, given five o’clock in my world equates to nine pm in most other people’s timelines. The problem then is that by seven o’clock, I have a hangover.
The short evenings I generally talk on the phone, WhatsApp my friends or text my children, work and cook dinner for my dad (I live in his house at the moment.) Then maybe some TV: Chernobyl on Sky Atlantic at the moment. Life could always be worse.
By 10.30 I am shattered. I have a bath, take my pills, read for a bit and fall into an all-suffocating black slumber. No dreams ever.
Four hours later, rinse and repeat.