When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep, and you're never really awake.
Ed Norton, Fight Club (movie version)
I sometimes have sleep problems. I don't have trouble sleeping, jut getting to the initial state of being asleep. I will put out the light and lie there looking up through the skylight, looking into infinity for what feels like an eternity. I will turn onto my side, wrap my head in my pillow, shut my eyes, and stay awake. I will then grumble something to the sleeping beauty to my side, and head down to the kitchen for whisky, Horlicks and/or a sit-down toilet. I am likely to then head back to bed and selfishly wake up my girlfriend to tell her that I'm awake and that I need to talk. In short, I make a right kerfuffle. Thankfully the angel that I'm marrying puts up with my stupid and stubborn resistance to sleep with incredible grace and understanding.
It feels like a self-inflicted wound, slashed across my sleep patterns. I know I can sleep. Its just that I won't. It's not even something that continues too late - I never go without sleep, I always get a few hours in. Its not a problem as such - don't get me wrong. But it doesn't stop me hating myself for it at the time.
I know I'm in for a troubled night if my body is feeling "wrong". I lie there, stand there, stretching my muscles, straining my sinews and clicking my joints. I saw a program on the telly a few years back about people suffering from "restless leg syndrome". The poor sods - they find it hard getting in a situation where they can sleep, feeling the constant need to stretch and move at night (click HERE for more info on RLS.) I know I'm not a sufferer myself. But I know from what I experience that it must be terrible.
No, my trouble must stem from my development. I was a proficient sprinter in my youth, and I must've built up a powerhouse of fast-twitch muscles in my legs. Then a few years back I spent a year or two doing stupid amounts of long-distance running. I've probably got more leg muscle-action going on than Jake The Peg. More recently, however, vigorous exercise just hasn't featured within my life-o-scope.
Last night, however, myself and Ms Powersurge went swimming after work. Some years back I forced myself to into a regime of water-torture at Bristol North Pool. Sometimes several times a week, occasionally several times a month, sometimes once a quarter. Still, at least I tried. Admittedly I always had to be talked into it by my friend Butlerfeatures with the promise of pretty minnows in the pool, a post-swim Miss Millies chicken-in-a-bun, and a few crafty pints in the Bristol Flyer with DJ Tim afterwards (DJ Tim's like a good-natured mogwai - he hates water with a passion). Despite this, sitting behind batty old women in the slow-lane probably did me a lot of good in the Unhealthy Years. And then it stopped. Because, let's face it, swimming is rubbish apart from the the effect it has on the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.
Until yesterday. We went, it felt wonderful (that is, our fitness is probably poor enough for 26 lengths to still feel wonderful), beer absorption was still rapid, and come the time I had to sleep I had nothing to fear. I lay there, unable to keep my eyes open. Sleep washing against the shores of my consciousness as if the the shingle was made of barbiturates. I can't remember when I last felt so peaceful at the end of the day, so ready to embrace sleep. I guess my body still craves exertion.
So don't let loose your own Tyler Durden. Go pick up some ear infections and verucas, and do yourself some good. And if you've got kids, listen to Rolf when he tells you - "TEACH THEM TO SWIM!"