Pete Davison: Sleep Tight

Posted on May 12, 2011 by

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(Aside: “Sleep tight”? What the hell does that mean? For one, it implies you can somehow “sleep loose”, which sounds suspiciously like bollocks to me. But I digress.)

Sleeping’s a strange thing, really, isn’t it? It’s something natural and instinctive — so much so that it’s pretty much impossible to explain to someone how to do it. I know I can’t. I know that I can’t even explain it to myself, and the more you think about trying to get to sleep, the less able you are to actually do it. “Trying to sleep” becomes “lying in a dark room with your eyes shut trying not to think about anything and failing”.

Because that’s impossible. You can’t think about nothing. It’s actually impossible. There is no way you can completely clear your mind of absolutely everything, because even if you’re picturing darkness or a black wall or something, you’re still picturing something, not nothing. And your consciousness of the fact that you’re not clearing your mind, the fact that you’re thinking of something, not nothing, that makes things worse.

It gets even worse when it’s late and you know that you actually need to get to sleep otherwise the following day is going to be hellish, especially if you have to get up early. Not only do you have the pressure of trying to clear your mind and get to sleep (and inevitably failing) but you also end up opening your eyes every so often just to check how much time you’re wasting when you could spend it sleeping.

Then you realise your phone’s by your bed, so you figure a quick round ofBejeweled Blitz/couple of levels of Angry Birds/few weeks on Game Dev Story/couple of attempts at Tiny Wings/an episode of Cause of Death is just what you need to make you drop off. And so you play for a bit, and your eyes get heavy, but then you figure “what if someone’s said something interesting or exciting on Twitter?” so you check that, then look at your emails, then possibly send an email or two to people you’ve been meaning to email for ages but never remember to in the daytime. By now, your brain is full of words and jumping birds and Special Agent Natara Williams and so there’s no hope of you getting to sleep any time soon, so you go and get yourself a drink and/or a sandwich and/or a jammy dodger and then repeat the whole process over and over again.

I envy those people who can just keel over in pretty much any context and start happily snoring away. Clearly I need to sleep in a sensory deprivation chamber approximately three miles away from my phone and any other electronic equipment.

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Posted in: Pete Davison