Tuesday, 4 October 2011

On Sleeping

I have the gift of sleep. I have always had it. 

Recently, I have been asked, by several different people, about my sleeping patterns. This has given me cause for thought. 

When working I go to sleep quite early, between 9 and 10pm. I normally do not drink caffeine after lunchtime, and often drink camomile, or hot milk and honey, or hot chocolate before I go to sleep. I am so rock and roll.

'It's going to be SO cosy in bed!' That is what my Ma always told us as kids. I believe it too. Once I am tucked up under my blankets very little in the world can disturb me.

I dedicate time to winding down after a day. I have a shower, get dressed in my PJ's and drink my tea. I have a brilliant book I am looking forward to on the bedside table - this week it is Julian of Norwich. I read a few chapters before I begin to feel myself getting sleepy. 

Compline, I always say that in bed. For me, it is a way of reviewing the day with God: this happened; that happened; I said something stupid; I needed You; You were there for me. Then there is those last words: The Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. I always translate that in my head, selfishly perhaps: God grant me rest. I have always prayed for sleep.

After that, if it is more that 5 minutes before I hit the world of nod I am surprised.

I sleep deeply. Sometimes too deeply. I have slept through fire drills and through teenagers having a dorm party (probably best). I have slept through a French holiday house being hit by lightening (or I would have done, had not my Ma woken me up to tell me about it), and through two day coach journeys to Poland and the South of Spain.  Noise, it seems, does not worry me that much.

I can sleep anywhere, most especially in cars (almost instantly), trains (despite paranoia about missing my stop), planes (I'll be snoozing before take off, and will see you after landing) and meetings (including Church services); indoors or outdoors, in a bed or on the floor. I am a lover of comfort, but it is not a requirement for relative unconsciousness. Neither is darkness: there have been no blinds on the skylights in this flat since I moved in. It drives other people mad! I barely notice.

Stress, such as we had with OFSTED last week, only makes me want to sleep more.

Apparently, Scientists believe the position in which a person goes to sleep provides an important clue about the kind of person they are. They have spoken about 6 different positions in which people naturally fall to sleep. Thinking about it, I can safely say that I adopt two of these positions with any regularity, the foetus and the starfish.

The Foetus: Those who curl up in the foetus position are described as tough on the outside but sensitive at heart. They may be shy when they first meet somebody, but soon relax. More than twice as many women as men tend to adopt this position.

Log: Lying on your side with both arms down by your side. These sleepers are easy going, social people who like being part of the in-crowd, and who are trusting of strangers. However, they may be gullible.

The yearner: People who sleep on their side with both arms out in front are said to have an open nature, but can be suspicious, cynical. They are slow to make up their minds, but once they have taken a decision, they are unlikely ever to change it.

Soldier: Lying on your back with both arms pinned to your sides. People who sleep in this position are generally quiet and reserved. They don't like a fuss, but set themselves and others high standards.

Freefall: Lying on your front with your hands around the pillow, and your head turned to one side. Often gregarious and brash people, but can be nervy and thin-skinned underneath, and don't like criticism, or extreme situations.

Starfish: Lying on your back with both arms up around the pillow. These sleepers make good friends because they are always ready to listen to others, and offer help when needed. They generally don't like to be the centre of attention.

I can relate to these two ideas. They make sense to me. I think that many things are taught to us through sleep.

I am interested to note though, that a gift of sleep is not complimented by a gift of waking up! My working day alarm sounds at 5am. There are 4 different alarm sounds in my room, including the radio. I regularly change both their tone, and their position in the room. I put them far enough away from me that I have to get out of bed to silence them. I turn lights on, and employ a variety of snooze buttons. But still, still it takes an Act of Will to get started in the morning, a determination fuelled by sugared tea and a sense of unfulfilled duty. If anyone has a solution to this getting out of bed problem, I am all ears. One of the most challenging aspects of my sleep pattern is people waking me up unexpectedly. I feel like I have been hauled from the depths: I do not know where I am, I get confused. It is frightening, I do not like it.  I long one day to waken, full of the joys of spring!

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