HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: 'My worry diary is keeping me up at night.'

If you would like to enrage a woman, tell her that getting a good night's sleep is the single most important thing she can do for her health.

The source of her rage will vary depending on her life stage. Maybe she's got a small child or two and hasn't experienced a full night's sleep since the first lines appeared on her pregnancy test. Maybe she's juggling an intense period of career and stress. Maybe she works shifts. Maybe she's hormonal. Maybe she's menopausal.

My hand is up. I don't want to dwell on it, but the truth is, I haven't slept "through the night" consistently for almost 15 years.

First, because of babies and children who were not good sleepers well into their primary school years. And then, because Peri. And for me, that came with a side of sleepless anxiety I am still wrestling with.

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It's okay. I don't need a tiny violin. I've been doing some things to tame the 3am death spirals for a while now, and some of them are working and some of them are not.

But this week, a very rich man sent me into a new stratosphere of worrying about worrying too much to sleep. 


You might have heard of Bryan Johnson. He's the American founder who sold his tech business for $800 million (yes, you read that right). And decided he was going to live forever. Yes, you also read that right. 

He has dedicated his life to adopting every health protocol available to a very rich man to make sure he does not die. He claims he is the most-measured human in the world and that includes him tracking the strengths of his erections, but that's a whole other thing and if you want to know more about it, go listen to the episode of Out Loud where we talked about it this week.

The immortal Bryan Johnson in all his well-rested glory. Image: Instagram/byranjohnson_But he also claims that even without all the restricted dieting, the relentless exercising, the laser therapy, the 60 supplement pills a day, the plasma infusions and yes, the erections, there is actually ONE THING that has been instrumental to improving his health, longevity and all health markers.


You guess what it is.

"Sleep is my number one priority in life," Johnson says. And he means it. Every single thing he does during the day, he does early enough to make sure that his resting heart rate is low by the time he gets into his temperature-controlled bed.

"When I sleep well, life feels amazing and possible, and when I don’t sleep well, it feels challenging and miserable."

Yeah. Okay. Samesies.

Tech bros and Hollywood types and wellness gurus are all really, really into sleep right now. Sleeping with their Oura rings and their Whoop bands, hooked up to complex score-giving apps. Of course, we've all jumped on it too, with our Fitbits and our Apple Watches, with their reliable breakdowns of our REM and deep and light and nap and dreaming levels.

I heard a doctor on a podcast (I can't remember which one, I have sleepless brain fog) saying that a more basic measure of your sleep deprivation is to lie down in the middle of the afternoon and close your eyes and set a timer for 10 minutes. Do you fall asleep? If the answer is yes, you are not getting enough sleep. If the answer is 'Hell Yes', then welcome.

I wonder if that podcast doctor has ever seen a woman getting her first facial in five years? Beauticians need earplugs plus a beanie to counteract the snoring.


Anyway, I don't think Bryan would approve of my basic measures, but I have been told to start trying to trick my brain into thinking Worry Time is 9-9:30pm only. And that I can do this with the help of a 'Worry Diary', where I write down all the things I'm worried about before I lie down to sleep. The idea is, when my eyes pop open at 3am, there's nothing left to spiral on. And the problem is, there aren't enough pages in the world.

Behold, the first three minutes:

  • The world is getting worse, not better. (Starting small).
  • I am not doing enough about it. (Self-loathing is everyone's stinky 3am companion).
  • Did I remember to send that permission slip back to school with Billy? (The answer is almost certainly no.)
  • I think the pink spot on the dog's nose is getting smaller. Is that cancer? (The dog's nose is almost certainly close to my head at this point.)
  • I bet the worm farm smells today. It's not meant to smell. I am abusing those poor worms. (?!&*)
  • I stuttered and paused on the podcast today. Why can't I just use my words? I'll certainly be fired tomorrow.
  • This book I'm writing is so bad I can smell it from here. (Over the worm farm.)
  • What would I do if I was fired tomorrow? (Starts trying to do maths in head.)
  • Or if Brent was? (More maths in head.)
  • I suppose we could sell the house. (Maths now way above my pay grade.)
  • And move where?
  • Is living in a caravan #vanlife or #trailerpark and is the difference only the Instagrammability?

And so on.

Do you see? Do you relate? The worries just roll in a predictable cycle, big things, little things. I'll start with a pimple and end up with a tumour. I'll begin fretting about Matilda's split ends and find myself noodling my father's ailing health. I start with recycling and end in apocalypse.

The alarm goes off to tell me to stop writing all this depressing shit down in a diary. And go to bed.

Then my head is spinning and my heart is pounding and then I remember that Bryan Johnson says the best way to get to a satisfying sleep is to not eat for the eight (eight!) hours before sleep, and to have a resting heart rate of 45-50 and now I have something else to worry about.

So, good night, friends. I wish you the sleep of a multi-millionaire with an empty stomach and a firm erection.


Feature Image: Getty.

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