London - For years, Louise Cartwright burned the candle at both ends — and probably a bit in the middle, too. As a result, everything from her sleep to her sex life had suffered immeasurably.
Night after night, she’d fall into bed between midnight and 2am, exhausted from running her own financial consultancy business, and the family home.
Louise was usually far too frazzled to think about even a cuddle with her husband before her head hit the pillow. And the one or two glasses of wine she habitually drank before bed, wrongly believing they’d help her relax, did quite the opposite. Her sleep was disturbed and unsatisfying.
Her eureka moment came in late 2016 when, prompted by a series of family bereavements and her father being diagnosed with bowel cancer, she decided to overhaul her lifestyle.
Fifteen months later, Louise is almost evangelical about the benefits the curfew has brought to her life. Lights out for Louise is now 8.30pm at the latest, to clock up nine hours’ sleep, more if her schedule allows. She declines most social invitations, has left dinner parties before the main course and will go out for a meal with her husband Gary no later than 6pm.
But the early bed time has done wonders for her sex life with Gary, 49, who is a health and safety director. "We enjoy wonderful early morning sex because I’m rested, refreshed and naturally awake — not wrenched from sleep by the alarm." (Her daughters aged 16 and 17 board at a local college.)
"We’ve been married ten years and it’s easy to let romance drift because you’re busy and tired. My sleep curfew has revived our relationship"
According to Professor Kevin Morgan, who leads the clinical sleep research unit at Loughborough University, imposing a strict sleep curfew is beyond most people’s reach, but some of its principles are valuable.
"Apart from our relationship, the biggest difference is an increase in my motivation for work. And my skin looks better."