As a writer, I'm something of a professional dreamer, so I was intrigued to read the latest lifestyle advice from movie goddess Gwyneth Paltrow about "clean" sleep being vital for health.
Don't get me wrong, I love being asleep - some of my best ideas appear as dreams and rather like Marnie, the main character in my first novel, Mr Make Believe, I'm prone to daydreaming too. But the fact is, as a mother-of-two, I simply don't get enough shut eye and judging by Gwyneth's standards, the quality of my sleep is far from clean and verging on the dirty side, really.
Maybe Gwyneth gets so exhausted by whizzing up kale smoothies that she really needs to go for a lie down but she almost binges on sleep, apparently, getting a good ten hours a night. I don't begrudge her that.
Good for you Gwynnie!
But I did have a laugh, as sleep is the one thing most parents don't have in abundance. And now it is the mainstay of wellbeing and we simply must get more of it, she advises. Well, great, but who is going to do the washing up and the laundry of an evening? And what about having a bit of sit down in front of the telly after the hell of children's bedtime?
And what about the broken nights with babies and toddlers, and young kids - and, let's face it, older kids, too. Mine are 12 and nine and if I get them both asleep before 9pm most nights I consider that a total victory. Even then, bad dreams, trips to the loo... all these things get them out of bed and they still have a habit of coming into see me and telling me about it, in the small hours of the morning. I don't mind, I think it is sweet, and my mum radar twitches every time they get up in the night anyway, so when they wake up, I do too. Motherhood has made me a really light sleeper.
The last time I had ten hours flat out, I'm afraid there was a quantity of gin involved, which is definitely not on the kale and chia seed healthy foods list, is it?
I have had some really great arguments about sleep. Early on in my marriage, when the kids were babies, there was a sort of guerrilla warfare going on, with me sneaking in naps whenever he went out of the house and him "going for a quick lie down" on Saturday afternoons while I huffed my way with the babies around the park, muttering under my breath that he really should be here, to share the joy of their childhood, never mind that he was knackered from working all week. We even ended one fight, yelling: "Well, you got seven hours in last night and I only had four!" before we realised how ridiculous we sounded.
The rules of Gwyneth's "clean" sleeping mean no food or snacks after 8pm. Ok, so I know I shouldn't but I might sneak a biscuit or two in front of my favourite TV show before bed, which makes my sleeping a bit grubby, doesn't it? Does gin and tonic count as a snack?
No ipads or smart phones are allowed in the bedroom, which must be a technology-free zone. Oh dear, I use my phone as an alarm clock because the kids nicked the clock and stole the batteries. My sleep is looking quite mucky now.
Pillows - they must be infused with copper. Well, mine are from John Lewis, probably quite nice, but I can't afford copper-infused ones, sorry, we have only just had Christmas. Sleep rating - dirty.
Relaxation - make sure you are completely relaxed, by having a head or foot massage. Nice idea, but the masseur is having a day off, Gwynnie, and my other half is already unconscious.