Cherry Healey is a presenter and producer, making documentaries for BBC1 and BBC3, and is also mother to feisty three-year-old, Coco. From how we balance working with parenting, to social taboos, Cherry loves to ask questions, preferably with a cup of tea in hand....
Sleeping with the enemy
To avoid any disappointment at the lack of juicy confession I must declare now that the enemy is my own brain. So sorry. Not a plumber in sight.
As I lie here at 1.06am, after the classic ‘just-one-more’ episode of our latest box set has finished, and the lights are finally turned out, my brain decides it is exactly the right time to become Super Active.
In the still of the night, without Twitter and phone calls and answerphone messages and texts and emails and internet research and Amazon, my brain can finally have a moment to stretch its legs and reflect. Whilst my husband falls asleep within minutes, I begin one of my most productive moments in the day: it's just a shame that this is also much needed sleeping time.
Like so many people nowadays, I am an avid multi-tasker. At any one time I will be wrangling with eight levels of admin: daughter, home & nursery, groceries & financial maintenance, family & friends, work To Do list and...and...and...now it’s 1.40am.
As a result of juggling these plates (all of which I love) throughout the day my brain is often embroiled in firefighting - so nighttime is the perfect opportunity to catch up on creativity, planning and evaluation: 'did I say the right thing in that meeting?' 'I must remember to call my friend about her break-up,' 'is the sock puppet I made for nursery ok?' 'how should I re-edit a blog?' and 'I must remember to defrost some bolognese.'
The last one might not look important but our family is mostly fuelled on spaghetti & bolognese. It is, in fact, probably the most important point on the list. I now quickly turn on the light, jot down my thoughts and hope that my brain has finished its enema.
It is now 1.50am and, whilst it's been an excellently fruitful time, I know that I will pay for the lack of sleep tomorrow. I really do need to find a solution that isn't a Red Bull or under-eye concealer.
I have tried mild sleeping pills and not-so-mild pills from over-the counter in France, but that didn’t work as I was a puffy-eyed zombie for half of the next day. Slightly counter-productive. But really, I know from friends that sleeping pills are definitely not the solution. It's too easy to become reliant on them and I want to avoid that vicious cycle.
I think, perhaps, the best solution is to factor in some quiet/no-technology time into the end of my day. Maybe if I spent the last hour of the day channeling Jane Austen, sitting quietly with a pen and pad, musing, meditating and creating, then I would get it out of my system and sleep soundly. I could even do it by candlelight to really get in the mood.
I wonder if, an hour before I put my head on the pillow, it would be a good idea to turn off my iPhone, laptop and television (tricky as we are mid-Breaking Bad; I know, it's a bit brilliant) and in turn, allow my brain to slowly turn off. Maybe then I would have bright eyes, an organised day and exciting creations to action during daylight hours.
That would almost be worth giving up my box set habit. Almost.