In an ideal world we would all go to bed at a sensible time and sleep a deep and refreshing sleep through to the morning alarm, awake full of the joys of spring and go off to enjoy fulfilling and productive days. In an ideal world.
Alas there are so many ways in which that theory goes wrong, firstly that life always gets in the way. I mean, it would be pretty dull if we stayed in every night and went to bed with a cup of cocoa at 10pm, wouldn’t it? There is life out there to be lived to the full.
I’ve blogged before about the issues with getting to sleep, though things have been getting worse since then, so regard this as an update. I get home at a reasonable time (ie. it would be out of character to arrive home in the wee small hours – I generally get hom from anywhere by 11pm latest!) with my mind buzzing, then get into writing, games of Scramble for Friends on my phone, conversation or whatever other activity captures my imagination at that moment. Easy to say you should relax your brain, but what do you do when it doesn’t want to switch off? I heard that some experts put the trend down to the fact that we take our laptops and mobile phones to bed with us and answer or play on them at will. Hmmm….
Other people can (allegedly) sleep on a clothes line – wherever they happen to be, whenever they feel sleepy. I wonder how their brains are wired differently?
Then again most people have their own bedtime rituals, which can easily be disturbed; when they are, we don’t sleep. Strange that we are such creatures of habit, but some do indeed depend on having a particular drink, throwing out the cat and locking the house, getting undressed and into night gear in a very precise manner, cleaning teeth, setting the alarm and sleeping on one particular side of the bed. Something very anally retentive about bedtime rituals, so it’s no surprise that some can’t sleep when travelling and sleeping in any bed but their own.
So if the mind is problem no 1. Problem no 2 comes when you’ve finally managed to relax and drop off… but then wake at regular intervals during the early hours. Sleep bores will tell you that’s what happens when you drink too much, but it happens to me even when I’ve not touched a drop, which is most of the time. Bottom line is that you never feel rested, no matter how exhausted you are and how much you need your zeds. For many that means they drop off at inopportune moments during the day or evening and therefore rob themselves of the edge of tiredness when they ought to be dropping off.
Sleep deprivation affects a frightening number of people, surely to the detriment of their relationships (not least by making their partners suffer), working productivity and overall happiness. Nobody functions at their best without enough sleep. Yes, I’m quite sure there are people who can cat nap for five minutes and perform brilliantly all day, but they are in the minority. In fact, people who brag about it are probably suffering in silence and making worse decisions as a result.
Of course, when you do finally get off to sleep a whole pandora’s box of possibilities lies in store for you. Dreams, fun or scary, bizarre or humdrum, or none at all. Sleep is a bit like taking acid and taking a hallucinatory step into the unknown, though in this case the narcotic influence is provided by our own subconscious. Small wonder Freud made his fortune from interpreting dreams!
They come in spates for me, sometimes very weird, but then none for ages.