Last night I went to bed 7.52pm, an infrequent occurrence and one that usually only happens if aided by a sleeping tablet to correct a sleep pattern that has spiralled out of control. Last night’s aid was Alex playing Skyrim which, with as much dialogue as there is and semi-interesting conflict between the Dark Elves and the Nords, had the effect of helping my eyes close a little more easily. So off I trotted to bed. Between the many, many times I woke, here is an non-exhaustive list of what can be learnt from nine hours’ sleep:
1. The Leftovers should have its own channel
Alex and I had been watching this together as Sky Atlantic puts episodes up to watch, until I jumped ahead while he was a Tuesday football game. I’m now onto episode 5 (which isn’t available yet), have downloaded the Hozier song at the end of episode 3, only slightly troubled by Christopher Ecclestone’s American accent but happy to overlook it, and have an unconscious need to watch that Muse video with Justin Theoroux being hysterical.
In short I’m hooked. Had there been an entire channel dedicated to just showing this programme, I would never have gone to bed so early. I need episode 5 now.
2. Don’t bother trying to sleep until your food has gone down
Yes that old wive’s table that I’ve never tested before. But it turns out its true – considering also that I had a nutrition free dinner composed of chicken goujons (grown up chicken nuggets), chips and Nandos Hot Marinade in place of the sauce, my abdomen was a curiously heavy and disturbed element as I tried sleeping on my side, my back, my front, anywhere to try and feel lighter. I eventually fell asleep anyway, which leads me to my third lesson…
3. Distinguish between a heavy stomach and kidney failure before 3.29am
It’s shameful to admit (maybe) but I can’t remember with any certainty the last time I went to bed without consuming an alcoholic drink and as a result of the many empty bottles that clatter into our giant green bins that give the impression of running a pub rather than a house, I have decided to take an unofficial part in Go Sober for October which obviously started yesterday. I say unofficial as I’m not being sponsored. Which, now I think of it, sounds a lot like AA. I’m not completely sure, but I have a suspicion that the reason I went to bed so early was in part also to the temptation of sitting up and indulging just to have something to keep me awake. Which perhaps is shameful. So when I woke at about half 3 with a sharp, constant pain bang slap in the middle of the left side of my lower back I jumped to the fuzzy conclusion that my kidney had packed up as I had finally stopped drinking. I decided not to wake Alex and ask him to take me to A&E as I was sure he would say I was overreacting. So instead I moaned a bit, rolled over quietly in my agony and hoped he would wake up and notice. Having only got to bed two hours earlier, he did not.
By the by, when I did tell him this morning he said I had probably slept funny. Apparently this is because I always say the same to him when he experiences health alerts that seem so much more alerting at 3.30 in the morning. Which also brings me to my next lesson…
4. Everything’s noisier when it’s quiet
There are more cars on the move between the hours of 2am and 4am than I had ever noticed. 5am, fine – I understand that – some people have to get up early and be somewhere far away. But between 2am and 4am on a residential street in SE London – on a Wednesday night? And of course each car was powered by Dolby Surround Sound as I lay in bed willing myself to fall asleep again. At 4am, I distinctly heard people speaking to each other in the street. At around 3am something woke me up that sounded like squeaking and I hoped the cat hadn’t buried something in the house only to dredge it back up again.
Many of these things might have been the tail ends of dreams. Who knows? As far as I could tell each time I woke up, it wasn’t 6am, my kidney hadn’t failed and Alex was still snoring, despite my attempt to make him turn over while keeping his pillows on his side of the bed.
There definitely are more things that I learnt, half awake and half asleep from about 1.15 until gone 4. Those half thoughts that turn into dreams, or dreams that become half thoughts. When I woke up this morning, I tried a Pages activity that I keep reading about and found that it was the most pleasantly disconnected thing I had written in ages.
Clearly, sleep works.