Sleep under the sky

03 Mar 2019

Last weekend I had some time to myself, and I made a trip to Norfolk/Suffolk and added a couple of bird species to my life list (goshawk, woodlark). I also took advantage of the crazy-warm February weather to do one of my favourite things: fall asleep outdoors.

I’m a huge believer in the power nap. Sometimes, I genuinely think it’s the single most efficient use for 20 minutes, such is the restorative power of a brain reboot. If I’m doing it for efficiency, I tend to set an alarm: go too long and I end up groggy and disorientated. If woken prematurely I end up in a proper grump.

Sleeps are ten times better outdoors: fresh air, gentle sunshine, restful sounds. Bedding down in a tent is great; sleeping under the stars is even better. But for a quick win, you can’t beat an outdoor daytime nap.

My own sleep requirements are fairly pernickety. I tend to need a fairly quiet spot and I find it difficult to nod off while seated. If snatching forty winks outdoors, I need to feel like I’m not going to be disturbed. So I find a little nook or a cranny and stretch out. It is the best sleep, ever - it’s addictive. I find myself seeking out opportunities to pursue this peculiar hobby.

Last weekend I woke up to a bumblebee buzzing over (who was also presumably waking up from a longer sleep, it being late February). The photo above shows my slumber being gatecrashed by a five-year-old. My worst wake-up was to a dog standing over my head. Still worth it though.

The best I can remember was a mountaineering decision: walking in a small group up An Teallach, we had started deliberately early so as to have a long day on the horseshoe. After slogging up to just under 1,000m by mid-morning, with zero visibility, we knew the weather was set to lift so we opted for a high-altitude snooze in survival bags. I will never forget the feeling of opening our eyes 45 minutes later and stretching our reinvigorated leg muscles while the clouds peeled off the ridges ahead.

Tags: personal, sleep, mountains, birds