How Do You Sleep?

A few months ago I talked about dreams and other similar stuff but never actually talked about sleep. The time has come to have at look at how this is working for me at the moment.

Back in the old days – those days as a young person without a care in the world sleep was a magnificent thing. I would go to bed late and sleep until I needed to get up for work – unless it was the weekend when I could sleep as long as I wanted. I am sure we all know people, teenagers, or even older, who can sleep nearly all night and all day. Sadly. though, this ability has now escaped me.

Sleep now seems to be this elusive thing from the past. I try my hardest not to resort to drug assisted sleep but must admit, for the first time in my life, I have recently used the occasional sleeping tablet to help. I don’t like doing this because I just don’t like taking pills unnecessarily. Of course, I am now also hampered by the bladder of an elderly gentleman that requires draining during the night. I don’t know where this bladder came from because in my head I still feel like I am 35 years old – it’s best not to look in the mirror and see the reality…

So this old man’s bladder wakes me at night so I go and wee and then go back to sleep – well that’s the theory anyway – normally it means that my brain has also woken up and decides to do its own thing again and keep me awake. Those of you who have been to my talks know that my treatment for this was to go onto the computer and write a blog pot – yes this thing you are reading now. And yes it is currently 4:30 in the morning and here I am…

However, if I were to do a blog post every time I woke up, we would be up to about 35,000 posts by now. So I have another thing I now do – the current day equivalent to listening to the wireless. Podcasts. But not really interesting ones – interesting ones grab your attention and you keep yourself awake by concentrating on listening to what they are saying.

I try to find lighthearted, funny or outright boring podcasts to listen to – something to take my attention but not enough to stimulate me into concentrating. There are thousands and thousands of podcasts out there and it’s a matter of trawling through them until you find just what you are after. And the voice also needs to be right – a nice smooth Terry Wogan type voice is much nicer than a Fran Drescher for this type of thing.

I tend to have honed down onto BBC Sounds at the moment for soothing (and maybe boring) podcasts. There is some really fantastic and interesting stuff on the BBC Sounds website (sadly the app for BBC Sounds is only available in the UK, the rest of us have to stream the stuff from the website which doesn’t keep track of what you have already listened to). I am sure there are other podcasts across Australia, US and Canada that are similar but I find the BBC voices (in the main) soothing on my ear.

They do have a specific podcast called “The Boring Talks” – they tend to be just what is needed to get you started. From them you can then explore other areas of interest. I often now find myself dropping back to sleep only to wake up and find the podcast has finished, or it has progressed through six or seven episodes because autoplay is turned on. The app keeps track of what you have already listened to but the streaming service doesn’t.

So that’s podcasts to help keep your mind under control when awake and trying to sleep but what about when you are asleep – how do you control your mind then? Well… buggered if I know really.

I have found that over the past couple of months I have started to have vivid dreams – both good and bad. When I wake up I know I have had the dream and can vaguely remember the content but within a few minutes the whole thing has disappeared from my mind, I just remember I had an amazing dream but can’t remember what it was about.

Sometimes I even get a trigger during the day that links me back to a dream I had but then I’m not sure if it was a dream or a suppressed memory. And as I process the thought I seem to go into pause mode… all movement stops and to others I probably look vacant and lost as a stare into the middle distance. It is usually only a fleeting experience and I return to normal (whatever that is) quickly.

So, anyway, what I find with my sleep now is that I tend to be running on two hour sleep blocks. Go to bed at ten, wake up at 12. Go back to sleep, wake up at 2:30. Go back to sleep, wake up at 5. After this I will lie in bed awake for awhile and then get up for a cup of tea and to watch the dawn break.

I try to stay up at night as late as I can so I fall asleep easily – it’s the staying asleep that is the hard part but one of the benefits of not working anymore is that I can grab sleep during the day if I need any. It’s funny how the daytime nap is generally seen as a little odd (a nanna nap for old people) in our society but I think that is just another of those weird things we have come to accept as the norm. Babies sleep when they need to, old people sleep when they need to – some societies have afternoon siesta, why is it odd for us in the English speaking world???

So anyway, that’s about it for this post, I think I might duck back to bed for a quick snooze before the sun starts to come up.

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