2015 felt like one incredibly long all-nighter.
That’s ‘FOMO’ for you. It keeps you awake whether you're at the party or not
It was the year in which Thursday was officially crowned the new Friday as Manchester began churning out new restaurants and bars ten times a month. I found myself regularly attending launch parties with the ‘If there’s Prosecco I’m there’ socialites, and unwittingly joined a party-sect of liggers with large afros, twiddly moustaches and very shallow pockets.
My Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts proved it. To not be there, in the thick of it, trying out all the new food and drink, would be to miss out. Stay in and I risk browsing events on my social media feed whilst wishing I was there working the room, you know, pretending I’m a VIP when I’m really just a ‘P’. In a toss-up between going out or missing out the former always wins. Sleep? Well, I guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
“You’re always going out. Jealous!' my friends with more sensible bedtimes would text me after monitoring my movements on Twitter, watching the night unfold.
That’s ‘FOMO’ for you. It keeps you awake whether you're at the party or not.
FOMO - the recently Oxford Dictionary certified acronym - describes an anxious generation with a ‘fear of missing out’ and an infatuation with what everyone else is doing. It's defined as 'anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.’
The constant updates on our social feeds means the highlight reels of our friend’s lives run on a 24 hour news cycle, and we can't help but tune in. Constantly. Equally, our FOMO prevents us from saying no to social events so we can keep up appearances on social media. And whatever we're doing there's not much sleeping going on.
According to new research Eve Sleep ‘career pressures and FOMO are resulting in the people of Manchester staggering to work bleary-eyed as they wake up after a restless night’s sleep'. They explained this was due to people 'immediately logging' on to work emails and social media to see what they have missed.'
While the research concludes that most Mancunians manage to get the recommended seven to eight hours sleep a night, the quality of sleep is compromised due to FOMO. The poll also found stress at work and worrying about keeping on top of emails heavily impacts quality of sleep for 40% of the city, but it is not just a fear of missing an email from the boss, but also FOMO on any social media gossip and updates.
But am I really worried that people are living, loving and laughing far better than I am? Is the constant need to keep up with appearances keeping me from sleeping?
Admittedly, yes. On Valentine’s weekend one of friends posted her romantic rooftop meal in Soho, where she drank wine and smoked cigars with her beau until sunset. I had spent the night in bed watching stripper Magic Mike gyrate in a woman’s face. FOMO ensued, massively. I scrolled and scrolled through my Facebook page, liking pictures of roses and cute couple selfies until I fell asleep…
Before you brush me off as another millennial with neurotic digital issues, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is more serious than we think. FOMO is a form of anxiety - something many people are afflicted with in our fast-paced, high pressured times.
Constantly comparing, analysing, nit-picking and goal-setting is fuelling an unshakable feeling of dissatisfaction – social media just adds to the pressure. It's enough to keep anyone awake at night.
Initial FOMO research came from Andrew Przybylski, a psychologist at the University of Essex, he explained that ‘the less people felt autonomy, competence and connectedness in their daily lives, the more they felt FOMO’.
So what to do?
Pop a Night Nurse, get under the covers and get over it?
My colleague would think so, she tells me she has ‘FOMOOS’: Fear Of Missing Out On Sleep. Rather than burning the candles at both ends, she keeps her candles packed up nicely in the box. Sounds blissful.
I recently visited the Spa At The Midland, home to the most wonderful sleeping space in the city. Inside there’s dangling cocoons lit with sensual mood lighting and the smell of lavender. The spa focuses on ‘sleep therapy’ and too has realised that work stresses and digital pressures are keeping people awake at night.
“Routine is so important,” says spa manager Helena Grzesk, “avoid watching TV and working on your laptop or phone within two hours of your bedtime. The bright screens of our electronic gadgets disrupts our body’s rhythm which reduces our quality of sleep. Try reading a book before you sleep. If your digital gadgets can’t be avoided then turn down the brightness of the screen.”
For me, those niggling feelings of FOMO only really subside when I’m near comotose, yet I'll always want to keep up with the action and be a part of it. But to beat FOMO is to understand that some of the events I’ve attended were not worth losing sleep for, and not everything I’ve seen on social media was worth attending.
It’s time to switch off, both digitally and mentally. The reality is I’m not missing out on anything but sleep.
Follow @LOreal_B (and risk the FOMO) on Twitter.