Beginnings are the best of times as hope dawns with a new day

Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

Do you find it difficult getting out of bed in the morning, especially on a cold, wet winter's day? It never ceases to amaze me how no one has written a best seller on the terror of early morning rising.

Those five or ten minutes when you would give the world just to turn around, cuddle up and go back to sleep. In those few minutes it's hell to realise you have to hit the floor. The ultimate misplaced fantasy is to think or believe that you can stay on in bed. If only....

Those moments of terror, hesitation, disbelief, in many ways encapsulate the stories of our lives. A minute or two out of bed, we have brushed ourselves down, and magically we are set for a new day. What must it be like for people who are so sick or infirm that they have no choice but to spend their days in bed. That surely is another type of terror.

Summer is here, these days it's easier to get out of bed early in the morning. It's bright before 5am. In my case the first thing I do is take Tess, my ageing Labrador, for a walk. And these mornings it's simply magic. Out in the nearby park at just after 6am the day is at its best. There's a freshness, a newness to it. Maybe, like everything in our lives, the beginnings are often the best of times.

Sleep and sleep patterns have been on my mind in recent weeks. Approximately a month ago I started wearing a GPS (Global Positioning System) smartwatch. Staff at the HSE organised a competition to see what team walked the most steps over a four-week period. It was great fun and has been a powerful enabler to get you exercising.

The GPS watch measures your daily steps but it does much more than that. It is an astonishing gadget. It can tell me the speed I am cycling, the number of kilometres I walk and cycle every day, it tracks my routes, it tells me my heart rate but it also magically gives me information on my sleeping pattern.

In my ignorance I thought you went to bed, fell asleep, woke up in the morning and then experienced those dreaded moments before getting out of the bed. There is much more to it than that. There are different grades or levels of sleep.

The smartwatch tells me how long I sleep and divides my sleeping pattern into light and deep sleep. It also tells me the times I am awake. Well, come to think about it I don't need a tracking device to tell me about that. But one's sleeping pattern is interesting. Deep sleep is that time when the heart and breathing slow down. It's when our bodies repair themselves and recharge for the next day. During deep sleep our organs get rid of toxins and muscle tissue is built up, cells are replaced. It's the time our bodies use to restore us and keep us healthy.

The average adult only needs two hours' deep sleep per night but of course that does not mean that is all the sleep you need. Most people who know about these matters say adults require on average eight hours of sleeping time, most of it made up by light sleep.

My smartwatch is letting me in on a lot of deep secrets. But it is no secret that we all need exercise, sleep and good food for healthy living.