Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sleep - the unexpected retirement gift

Two years ago on the brink of retirement I was able to predict reasonably accurately what would be the major changes to my life once I gave up work. As I expected there was a balance of pluses and minuses.
Against the welcome drop in stress levels and long hours has to be set the dip in income and loss of daily social contact in the workplace.
I’m not complaining though. Being freed of the commute into work and the late night return journey home was a yoke from which I was delighted to be freed – and one to which I would never wish to return.
As I anticipated I now eat better, drink less alcohol, take more exercise, read more widely, have more time to travel, enjoy the arts, and spend with family and friends. Some days are better than others but so it was when I was working.
Perhaps the most unexpected aspect of my new life is the change in my sleeping patterns. Now that I’m no longer a slave to the alarm clock, I average an extra 90 minutes or so sleep a night. In addition where possible I’ll have a 20 minutes ‘power nap’ in the afternoon – often before commencing this blog.
So, more or less, I’m now getting my eight hours, while for most of my working life I was making do on six – and I feel all the better for it.
It’s a cultural nonsense that office workers lose nothing by visiting a gym in their lunch hour but would be frowned taking a short siesta at their desks even though they would be sharper mentally after a power nap than press ups.
After earning my living by newspaper journalism for more than 40 years, I still craved the desire to write and the intellectual challenge presented by a keyboard and an empty computer screen.
But the launch of my new career as a freelance writer has been sluggish at best. One of the stimuli for the creation of this blog was to feed my word junkie habit. It has allowed me to extend my horizons beyond the Square Mile of London’s financial sector.


  1. You touch on a couple of very interesting points... first, plan as we may, it's impossible to predict exactly how our retirement will unfold. We simply have to experience it for a while and let it develop.

    Second, you mention intellectual challenge. That's the thing which I missed the most and which I've been working on satisfying during retirement.

    Oh yes, one more thing I might mention... about sleep. You'll note that I'm writing this comment at 2:00AM. Yep, insomnia. Retirement hasn't changed my sleep (or lack thereof) at all. Bill

  2. Thanks Bill for your interesting comment - and website. GC


What do you think? GC