Last night I was out for dinner with a few girlfriends and the entire conversation was dominated by one thing: how much were we getting at home?

Were we getting it all in bed? What about a quickie on the couch? Had anyone tried squeezing it in while in the car at the supermarket car park?

Did it have to be lying down to count, or could one get a bit while sitting up, or even leaning against the oven while dinner was cooking?

Was anyone getting it half as much as they used to when they first met their husband?


As the world we live in has got faster and the expectations of what we can pack into a day bigger, sleep for most of us has become the new sex.

Especially when you are a working mother juggling professional and personal commitments like a circus clown.

If in your 20s it turned you on to think about staying up all night with a chiselled Adonis, the equivalent for a harried modern woman in her 30s is to slink under the covers unnoticed right after dinner and pass out for the next 10 hours.

Obviously the chances of that happening for most of us are about the same as stumbling across the Adonis, but that doesn't mean we can't dream. Provided we could find the time.

At last night's dinner, each of us took a turn to describe the best nap we'd ever had. We dipped into the lascivious detail - where we were, how long it lasted, what book we were reading right before it happened.

As each story got better than the last, you could almost see the drool forming at the corners of our mouths as we imagined what it might feel like to peel off all of our clothes at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon, slide between some crisp Egyptian cotton sheet - alone - and stay that way for several long, life-affirming hours.

Recently my husband and I decided to leave our 18-month-old son with Granny and Poppa while we went for a long weekend sailing. The forecast didn't look good and the only thing more difficult than a toddler on a small boat is a toddler on a small boat in the rain. So instead of perfecting the art of using my feet as hands in order to have enough of them to help with the boat while keeping the offspring safely entertained, we battened down the hatches as the rain swept in and we slept. And slept. And slept.

A couple of years' worth of accumulated sleep debt was paid off and when I came home and told my friends about it they were so envious you'd think I had been whisked away to the shores of Lake Como by George Clooney.

In reality, it was way better than that.

Apparently although we need 8.5 hours of sleep each night, most of us are averaging just over 6.

Throw in a few hours lost each week in the dead of night because the baby wants a cuddle, the cat wants food and the dog farts so badly it wakes you up and you have a sleep-deprivation scenario that rivals any form of wartime torture.

While in the past there might have been demand in every town for a red light district, these days I would back any business venture that proposed setting up secret little sleep stalls that could be booked by the hour so when everyone thinks you're at the gym or popping out to the store, you could instead be fast asleep and all alone in a small, dark room.

It turns me on just thinking about it.