Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Sleep - completely off topic: sleep.

I’m writing about sleep because sleep or the lack of it has often been the bane of my life and I have frequently suffered from bouts of insomnia. 

My parents had a relaxed attitude to medicine in the 70’s or perhaps I was a very difficult sleeper but I do have a clear memory of being slipped the odd mogadon or two. Not that the pills helped. How many times have I heard, ‘relax before you go to bed’? Don’t they understand that if you suffer from insomnia you can’t relax because the very thing that stops you from sleeping is worrying about it! ‘Night, night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!’ - again a fairly innocuous sounding phrase but putting aside the assumption that there are bed bugs for a moment, this is not just flippant but actually a rather cruel saying for those of us who just don’t always sleep tight.

Of course, just like the rest of the population I’ve read about the bad effects of sleep deprivation (and how we all need 8 hours just to function etc. etc.) – obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more…so I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve educated myself into a ‘condition’. I think I’ve read too much about the need for sleep and I’ve allowed myself to create a worry, a monster even that prevents the very thing I need. So now, how to wipe that knowledge?

Well…it’s all psychological, I’m sure of it. It’s caused by clocks, by worry, by reading about how important the damn sleep thing is. What if I could challenge that way of thinking? 

Is sleep actually that important? I’ve realised that that the key to sleeping better is not only the ability to convince myself that sleep isn’t as important as I thought it was but to truly believe this. And the science I’m working with? I can and do function equally well with either 7 hours as I do with 8 hours sleep. Indeed, I do just as well with 6 hours. Maybe not long-term but certainly for the odd day or two. More to the point, haven’t our greatest geniuses worked long into the night and use their semi- somnolent state caused by sleep deprivation for inspiration? I’m thinking of Samuel Coleridge and Einstein here. I’m sure I’ve heard that Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and the theory of relativity were conceived during the early hours and due in part to insomnia. Yes, to hell with 7 hours, 8 hours, 9 hours sleep; if the great geniuses of this world have used insomnia to their advantage then I will too.

I’ll start with a great play or a great novel. I’ll change everything, I’ll find ways to challenge all my detractors, I’ll think of great comebacks. I might even invent something to save the human race…

In the meantime, just in case recognition takes a while here are my short term coping strategies:
I’m have earlier nights (God, this is a boring but a tried and tested one).
I’m hiding the clocks and
I’m eating late night biscuits.

Night, Night.

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