After trying to quieten my ever-buzzing mind, I finally drift off around 2am. Six hours later, my alarm shakes me awake. I check my phone apps, my face bathed in blue light. The first thing I read is that this is the hottest September since records began. I open my laptop, a few metres away from my bed, also streaming blue light, and begin the work day. There are bangs and shouts on either side of me, and also from above. The house I live in was originally built for an entire family, but now it has been cut in half to fit more people into less space. My partner tries to sleep in, before getting up and preparing for her late-night DJ set. She will get back at 4am tonight, a podcast streaming into her ears, both of us desperate for a few hours’ slumber. Then it all starts over again.
Sleep in 2023 has become a hot commodity. We are told, constantly and sternly, that we need to sleep, or else our health will suffer. Our lives will be cut short. Our potential diminished. And yet, modern life — in the city, especially — is not built for a good night’s sleep. Noise comes from all directions. We’re plugged in and stimulated, our attention spans gripped by TikTok, YouTube, headlines about crumbling concrete and new strains of virus. We’re often given 25 days of holiday in a year of 365, with our work emails only a tap away at weekends, meaning that it’s difficult to get any true rest. We might get to kick back twice a week, but it’s not enough for our brains and bodies to truly unwind before snapping back to the grind.
By the time I awoke, I felt as though I’d been to a different dimension — oh, I thought, this is what it should feel like
Recently, I became so stressed out by my lack of sleep, and unable to sleep from the stress, that I booked myself into a specially designed hotel. It is for travellers and businesspeople looking to sleep after long-haul flights. The room was completely temperature controlled, via an iPad. The pillows were so soft, I could sink into them. The windows were sheathed in black-out blinds, to the point that I couldn’t tell what time of day it was. There was not a single sound, coming from any direction. And after drifting off, I slept for a solid nine or 10 hours. By the time I awoke, I felt as though I’d just been to a different dimension. Oh, I thought, this is what it feels like to sleep properly. This is what my body has been missing.
It’s sort of wild that, in order to get a proper night’s sleep, the kind your body craves, you often have to pay for it. My night in the sleep hotel cost me a couple of hundred quid. But the price of sleep is higher than that. It’s the cost of a house with enough rooms, and the space to unwind. It’s the cost of a good mattress, and 100 per cent cotton sheets. It’s the cost of a spa break, or time off work, or not having to do late-night shifts that affect your circadian rhythm.
Good sleep is a luxury, as opposed to something that is prioritised within the fabric of life. At this point I’d love to say something like “and so I restructured my entire life, and now I sleep like a baby”. If only. My sleep still ebbs and flows. On a lucky night, I might get eight hours. But the rest of the time? The only option looks like a sleep hotel.
Celebrity feuds aren’t nearly as real as we hope
Pop-punk princess Olivia Rodrigo has just released her second album, Guts, much to the unbridled joy of young people everywhere. As with any great cultural event, the album’s release is already shrouded in rumours and theories. Namely: Are Vampire and The Grudge about her former idol Taylor Swift? Is Rodrigo upset that Swift is now getting royalties for her track Deja Vu, following claims of its similarities to Cruel Summer?
So far, Rodrigo has (sort of) batted off the rumours. But it makes you wonder: why are we so endlessly fascinated by celebrity feuds, often to such a degree that we will wish them into being, usually based on very little? The truth is, Rodrigo and Swift probably don’t have the time to be engaged in a deeply personal battle (aren’t they always touring?) And, even if the songs are about Swift, that doesn’t necessarily mean the feud is real either. Drama and hype often equals promo. Who knows? Maybe they’ll do a joint tour in the future.
Daisy Jones is a columnist