I do some of my best thinking in bed. I’ve always been particularly fond of my eiderdown and when I graduated to a duvet, I thought all my birthdays had come together.I’ve been known to take to my bed mid-afternoon, if the world becomes a little too unwieldy. I’ve been known not to surface until late afternoon, if nothing else beckons. I’ve even been known to spend a whole weekend alternating between bed and sofa, surrounded by books and DVDs, quite happy in my own company. And I never see it as a waste of time. To the contrary.
Bed, as a refuge, is much underrated. A tendency to spend too much time in bed is often seen as a sign of depression. I’ve suffered from depression and know the signs that herald a major downer – thankfully it’s been years since my last bout – but my fondness for my bed is something different.
At a workshop recently, one of the participants gave a presentation on sleep and sleep habits. They maintained that science has proven beyond doubt that the snooze button is dangerous. Apparently we’re much better off leaping out of bed when we first awake rather than hitting the snooze button and getting that extra ten minutes of partial slumber. I consciously set my alarm for an hour before I have to get up just so that I can create the illusion of having a lie in. And according to science, I’m depriving myself of true wakefulness, and reducing the affect of proper sleep. Odds are, according to the research, that I will always feel tired.
But the flip side is that during that hour, I get to have what I rarely experience during the day – a period of undisturbed thinking. Be it planning what to pack for trip, or deciding what to cook for a dinner party, or mentally scripting the opening lines of a book that will one day be written, this bed-time is invaluable. In that period of semi-wakefulness, I have had some of my best ideas, resolved many difficult problems, and come to life-changing conclusions about my life and those with whom choose to share it. My bed is more than a refuge – it’s a thought sanctuary, an ideas incubator, a therapist.
When I was an active member of the corporate world, I was an avid proponent of duvet days and think that any company worth its salt should offer a limited number of duvet days to each employee, days off that can be taken when going to work becomes a chore, something that cannot be faced or only faced with supreme effort. This is not a new idea. The first recorded instance of the term duvet day that I could find dates back to September 1996 when the Financial Times ran this paragraph: To staff at Text 100Italic, a PR company, there is a third option. They can take a ‘duvet day’. Each employee is allowed two days a year when they can play hooky with their employer’s blessing.
What’s the point in showing up for work if your heart isn’t in it, if your mind is on another planet, if you know you’ll spend the whole day doing nothing but watching the clock. Why not simply stay at home? As an employer, I wouldn’t want you around and I certainly wouldn’t want to have to clean up the mess that would inevitably result from your distractedness.
As my own boss, I have granted myself an unlimited number of duvet days and, as a result of my taking myself up on my own generosity, I am reaping the rewards of clearing thinking, increased productivity, and a more positive frame of mind.
This week, I’m grateful for my 1850’s bed and the comfort it offers. I’m grateful, too, that when I go to bed and draw the duvet around me, it’s as if I’m closing the envelope on yet another day. Whatever problems I might have are shelved until the morning, when they may or may not be solved. Despite my best efforts to do this all day every day, this is one of the few times when I am actually present – living the moment. Forget the diamonds, the designer handbags, the fancy car – all it really takes to keep me happy is a comfy bed and a decent duvet.
Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out the post Grateful 52