Sleeping is one of the few things I’ve always been really good at.
My parents used to make jokes about me making the Olympic sleep team and for a while there, sleeping was kind of “my thing”.
But around eight years ago I began experiencing crippling anxiety. I had to kiss goodbye any meaningful sleep.
On some days, panic attacks would leave me physically exhausted and needing more sleep than ever.
Behold: the Olympic sleeper. Source: iStock.
On other days, my generalised anxiety would see me awake for hours, staring at the ceiling and trying not to chew through the sides of my cheeks while peering into the dark abyss of "what ifs".
Explaining this rapid change to other people was difficult and at times embarrassing.
No one wants to be the woman in their 20s going home early because they need to sleep.
But you also don't want to be the person hyperventilating and vomiting at the club at 2am because it's all too much to handle.
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Then, after years of self-medicating and unreasonable arguments with people about the most mundane of things, I went to my GP and asked for help.
Halfway through the checkup, she summed up my attitude toward sleep in the most perfect, glaringly obvious way that only a medical practitioner could.
"Thousands of scientists have dedicated their lives to finding out how much sleep humans need. It's eight hours. We know it's eight hours. You know it's eight hours," she said, clearly frustrated.
"Stop trying to be smarter than science. Get eight hours.
"People think getting enough sleep is a luxury, but it's not. It's a necessity, and it's free."
It was brutal, but fair.
The dressing down made something click immediately and made me want to embark on a quest for prioritising sleep.
She explained that, in addition to eight hours, you also need to set aside wind down and wake up times, which a lot of people don't do.
And it's this stolen hour or so that usually makes us so groggy and cantankerous in the morning.
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And so began my year of magical sleeping.
"I don't have kids yet," I thought to myself. "These years are the last in which I'll get this opportunity."
So with that, I bought new pillows and fresh linen.
I spent time meticulously cleaning my room and looking for a bedside lamp that was ambient but affordable.