Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When I Talk About Sleeping

Much of the best sleep of my life has been on couches (or sofas or if you're being very difficult, chesterfields). I know not why. They are usually firmer than a bed. They lack covering save for maybe a thin blanket. The cushions and pillows are minimal and mainly decorative and often uncomfortable. I think the main thing is, I lie on a couch when I most want to sleep. Unfortunately for me, when I most want to sleep is not when most other people sleep. I'm no insomniac. I just can't sleep when I should sleep thus I'm most prone to sleeping when I shouldn't sleep.

Recently I'd read about this notion that in our near past, people often had two distinct sleeps. The first sleep was simply immediately after sundown. The second, was probably some time after midnight when families might wake together and pray or read or write letters. Lovers may have met for trysts or neighbours met for conversation. Certainly it's been documented that some poets or philosophers had their most productive hours before the "second sleep". Of course, we can't be sure how common this was but I can assure you it cannot happen today (or even tonight for that matter). Briefly I interpreted my early evening nap as my first sleep and my actual off-to-bed time at around 1 or 2 AM as my second sleep but it never really worked out.
“…just in time to get into my jam-jams and slip away to the land of nod, a little East of Sleepy Hollow.”

Instead of waking feeling rested, I felt like I'd been on a cross-Atlantic trip. Completely out of sync. In the last week or so, I've been sleeping whenever I sat down, which would explain why I've been standing at my desk at work. It's much harder to nod off standing, I've found. I'm pretty sure I had a mild infection or something. Swollen glands, sweating without reason, upset stomach. Not enough to make you stay at home, but just enough to make you think, "What the hell?" Even walking up stairs, something I've done since childhood, has felt like I'm climbing Everest. Lactic acid build-up in the thighs should only occur during a road race, not four steps.

Despite all of this, I continued to exercise, running mainly, riding when I can. In fact, the application I use to log my workouts informs me I have gone over 500 KM since January. That's a long way to go for a decent rest. Partly my goal is to fit into a size 6 dress (as long as the woman wearing it is amenable to the idea) but also to tire myself out just in time to get into my jam-jams and slip away to the land of nod, a little East of Sleepy Hollow. Tonight is a perfect example. I got home around 6:30 and barely made it to the couch before I fell comatose with my iPhone earbuds still stuck in my ear – still playing a broadcast. I woke up almost 2 hours later, the iPhone having moved on to playing another podcast. As it was 8:30 I thought, "Right, a quick 20 minutes on the bike. Shower. Supper. Bed." Everything in that order has occurred except bed. Here I am after midnight, wide awake, bright-eyed and fluffy of tail. I probably won't drift off until one-ish, awake around three-ish, again at five-ish until I finally drag myself up and into the office for work-ish. It's really terrible. If I could only change one thing about myself, it would be… um, okay, if I could only change two things about myself, the second thing would be to change from "night owl" to "morning bird".

My real problem is not the First or Second Sleep, but that there's just no way to get a Third or Fourth Sleep in this world. Were it so, my life would be a restive and different one indeed.



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