I’m on holiday, why can’t I sleep?

Posted by Amanda Furness

As one who’s no stranger to being a bit behind the pack, it should come as no surprise if I divulge that I got round to taking this year’s “summer” holiday in very late October.  Sitting around a swimming pool doesn’t float my boat which is just as well because all I would have been likely to find for company in the ‘piscines’ of Northern France by the time I arrived would have been some goose pimples and a few floating leaves.

I did actually visit a swimming pool during my stay but the beautiful building had been converted into an art gallery.  The sympathetic conversion had retained a central strip of water which I had to resist the temptation of jumping into.  It was paddling pool deep and I was deterred by the stern look of the lady on the ticket desk who reminded me of my scary PE teacher, whose solution to 5 year olds not being able to swim was to throw them in the deep end and fish them out with her long pole if they sank!

I slept like a baby for the first week but after the middle weekend starting sleeping fitfully.  I didn’t even have to compare notes with the other half, as it was obvious from the tossing and turning coming from his side of the mattress that he was no longer sleeping like a baby either.  The reason for our sudden lack of sleep wasn’t obvious.  We’d been lucky enough to be treated to some beautiful bright sunshine, so were spending our days walking miles as we explored the local area and were therefore getting plenty of exercise and fresh air.  We did, obviously, indulge in some local cheese and accompanying refreshment but according to the old wives’ tale, cheese is meant to give you vivid nightmares, which would suggest you’d first have to be asleep to experience them.

On my return home, however, whilst catching up with the world news that I’d blissfully managed to escape, a chance article title caught my attention, “Daylight saving time ‘fall back’ doesn’t equal sleep gain”.  Yes, the clocks went back an hour during the middle weekend of my holiday which may explain the sleep problem as apparently “… only a minority of people actually get that promised extra hour of sleep.  During the following week, many wake up earlier, have more trouble falling asleep, and are more likely to wake up during the night”.  Maybe I should have paid more attention to this simple fact, rather than worrying about whether the French clocks would have gone back on the same day as they did in Britain, and therefore at what time the local patisserie would open for my morning “pain au chocolat”!