A few Sunday mornings ago, I was sitting on sofa watching the latest episode of Dr Pimple Popper in which the good Dr Lee was grappling with a particularly difficult lipoma.
“This woman is amazing,” I murmured to myself.
Just then, Amanda walked in the front door, the sweat still shimmering off her dewy smooth skin.
I was surprised. “Oh, you’ve been out this whole time? I thought you were still in bed!”
Amanda came to stand next to the sofa, and put her right leg in a quad stretch. “No, I’ve been up since 6.30. I decided to go for a run! Ooooh, that is one huge lipoma! The woman is amazing!”
“Tell it! I love her. I wish she was my mother!” I said and added, “Six-thirty? That’s way too early to be doing that kind of physical activity.”
“It’s a perfect time. The streets are empty. The air is clean and I don’t have to dodge those nasty bicycles and electric scooters on the pavements! There really should be a law against those things!”
It turns out there are two kinds of people in the world: those who wake up early, and those who don’t.
When I was growing up, my parents would complain to all their friends that their children were born lazy on account of the fact that we would sleep till noon. “The whole day is over!” Mother would tell me when I stumbled downstairs, rubbing sleep from my eyes. “You’ve missed breakfast and it’s almost lunch time!”
To my sister, she’d announce, “You’re wasting your life sleeping! You’ll have plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead!”
“But we wake up so early during the week!” Michelle would reply. “The weekend is the only time I can catch up on my sleep!”
“Well, if you went to bed early at 10pm, instead of 1 am, you wouldn’t need to catch up on any sleep!”
Michelle, barely 17 years old, rolled her eyes. “Who sleeps at 10pm?”
As it turns out, people who aren’t 17, that’s who. These days, by the time 9.30pm swings around, my eyes start to droop. I used to read in bed till all hours. Now, I read a page, and I’m out.
“That’s how you know you’re getting old,” Amanda said, as she stretched her other leg. “You sleep early, and you wake early!”
“Which must mean Saffy is still 17, because she’ll sleep till noon, if you let her.”
Amanda sniffed. “That’s because she’s up till 3am watching tennis or golf! I don’t know how she does it. The minute I get into bed, rub some moisturiser into my hands and I’m ready to call it a night!”
Saffy emerged from her bedroom shortly after noon. With her bloodshot eyes, wild hair and rumpled nightgown, she looked ready to star in the sequel to The Ring. She collapsed into a chair at the dining table. “Oh. My. God.”
Amanda looked at her sideways. “You know you’ve missed lunch, right?”
Saffy turned a red eye towards her. “How does Jennifer Aniston do it?!”
It turns out that Saffy had read an article about how famous people like Jennifer Aniston, Michelle Obama and Tim Cook only sleep four hours a night. The article didn’t come right out and say it, but the hidden message was that if you sleep four hours a day, you too could become intelligent, gorgeous, famous and fabulously wealthy.
Which is why Saffy got into bed at 11pm after watching the latest episode of Big Little Lies, set her alarm for 4am, and found herself utterly unable to sleep till 1am. When the alarm went off three hours later, she stumbled out of bed and then through the fog of her sleep deprivation, it occurred to her that she’d never really worked out, once she was awake at 4am, precisely what she was going to do.
“I mean, Tim Cook has an empire to run. Michelle Obama writes books and gives lectures. Jennifer Aniston does yoga and meditation and makes movies. I have a day job in HR!”
“You could check your e-mails?” Amanda suggested as she passed Saffy a cup of super strong coffee.
Saffy moaned. “Wake up at 4am to check my emails about personnel redundancies? What kind of a life is that? So anyway, I tried to do some yoga, but I lost interest after two minutes. I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I couldn’t focus on the TV. In the end, I went back to bed at 6am!”
When Saffy recounted the story at work the next day, Sharyn said, “Wake up at 4am? You think so easy become rich and famous, issit? If liddat, I orredi billionaire!”