Wednesday, 10 January 2018

"And the light shineth in darkness..." - me and my splendid new Serious Reader bedside light

On 19th December I posted what I described as "one long whine" about my worsening insomnia, and how my body seemed determined to keep me up all night by piling one distracting annoyance on top of another - itchy legs, stomach pains, restless legs etc. Yesterday, I woke up around 10.30am, having gone to sleep at around 2.45am. The previous day, I'd woken up just after 10am, having gone to sleep at around 2.30am. After rummaging through my memory banks, I realised that I'd been to sleep before 3am every single night since... well, Christmas Day. Now, with CFS, symptoms come and go: as one recedes, another reappears - either as a single spy or in a battalion. But as I haven't managed to fall asleep by 3am for two weeks in a row for at least two-and-a-half years, and as no new symptoms (or old favourites) have appeared to replace this one, I began to wonder what had changed since Christmas Day...and a lightbulb went on in my head.

My main Christmas present was a Serious Reader bedside reading light, bought for me by my wife. The one I'd used for the last decade (or two) was one of those standard, green-shaded banker's desk lamps. Although its very name should have been a warning, I was perfectly happy with it - specially with a high-wattage bulb installed -  but I'd maltreated it over the years, so the frequently-shattered shade had turned into a mosaic of glued-together fragments. My wife had searched high and low for a suitable replacement, and, as a last throw of the dice, had bought a Classic LED Lightweight Table Light for £130 via a Telegraph reader's offer - the normal cost of the same model on the Serious Reader website is £150 (mine is the one without the bulbous gubbins at the bottom), and it's available from Amazon at between £180 to £250 - and, as an unexpected bonus, we got a mini-version of the lamp as part of the Telegraph deal (which my wife is now happily using).

It took me two nights to get the hang of it - at first, I missed the warm, wide glow cast by my old lamp, the bulb seemed too small, and I couldn't figure out where to aim the highly adjustable stem and head so I didn't have to alter it every time I changed position. By the third night it was as if I'd been using it all my life: I didn't have to touch the light once, I could read without the least strain... and I'd grown to appreciate its beneficent, soothing, daylight-like beam. And whatever time I go to bed, and no matter how naughty I've been beforehand (staring at back-lit screens till all hours, eating around midnight. showering at 1am etc.), I'm asleep by 3am - and I'm not waking up an hour later as I invariably used to do whenever I got to sleep "early".

I'm well aware of the danger of mistaking correlation for causation - and, yes, this could all be sheer coincidence. But I suspect my 27" Serious Reader bedside reading light is either wholly or partly responsible for the fact that I'm getting to sleep earlier and waking up with at least seven hours under my belt. (An enormous and heartfelt thank you to Mrs. G, who bought and returned three other lamps after getting them home, trying them out, and finding them wanting.) The next target is to get to sleep by 2am on a regular basis - but, for the time being, I'm more than satisfied with 3am.

It's a lot of money for a bedside light - but I'd get violent if anyone tried to take it off me!

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