Sleep and sleepability
I've written about my problems with going to sleep before. In fact, having just looked at that last piece again I seem to have written everything there is to say about this already.
Everything, that is, that I am happy to have published right now on a page that I am aware is read by people who know me in the Physical Realm. As always there's probably stuff to be dug out from under the surface, but we don't like to admit such ugly stuff to ourselves let alone the world at large.
But I am happy to say that my wife is as wonderfully-understanding as she was as a girlfriend! I hope that I'd be as considerate if she was so noisily struggling with the transition from a state of consciousness at night.
Especially since its more of a "refusal" to shift into sleep at a reasonable time of night that I suffer from rather than being kept awake by any anxieties - from a tiny seed of a problem that I myself sowed some years ago, I have now reinforced this over and over until an immensely twisted weed has sprung forth, and it looms over to choke me the very last thing at night. I must break it down, I must reroute my habits of thinking, I need to break the circuits. I need some weedkiller.
But wait, I didn't want to write all this. This article was supposed to be more positive. REWIND.
The reason I am writing in the first place is that, at the end of my lunch break, I have just walked past a large bank of external outlets sticking out of the building's air-conditioning.
And, whoosh, I was swept away. Not in a "physically sucked away" fashion (if you pardon the expression), but in my head.
Certain sounds have always lulled me towards the deepest zen-like state of relaxation. If I hear a hairdryer my eyes grow heavy, the rolling waves of alpha slow and yield to the thetas, and the sensory curtain starts to cloud over the conscious world. This is a problem when I'm blow-drying my armpits in the morning!
Vacuum cleaners have virtually floored me since childhood. Since very early childhood, perhaps, considering this probably all stems from the all-enclosing sounds that my foetal pre-birth form would have been surrounded by in the lovely, comforting safety of the womb.
But it is when I am seeking sleep that I use this to my advantage.
When I was younger I used to misalign the tuner on my radio so that the room would be filled with a sea of static. Back then I wasn't as content as I am now, and I think I used to do this to try to drown out my anxieties. I had only limited success, as midway through the night the restlessness of the radiowaves would often jarr my sleep, creeping into bad terriroty with jagged cuts of buzzing interference.
When the white noise was working, sometimes I used to imagine that I was lieing in a shade of a cave on a tropical shore.
But nowadays I use the perfect aural sleep aid - the sound of an electric fan, turned on whatever the temperature of the room.
Whilst reading the novel Dune as a boy the words shaped my existence in a number of ways, one of which was with my sleeping.
I so wanted to be Paul Atreides on his long spaceship journey to the planet Arrakis. I wanted to look out of the window, to see the stars, to sleep, my life on hold before my new life starts. I firmly imagined myself there.
And now, whether I'm at home with the fan, or especially if I'm on a plane or train or a car for that matter, I shut my eyes and imagine that the constant noise is the deep hum of a spaceship's engines and the ambient sounds of its air-conditioning, with nothing to do but sleep until I reach my destination weeks later. And looking out of the skylight before I shut my eyes this so nearly feels true.
And sometimes at home, I imagine that I'm on a long-haul flight, a period of time with no expectations except the expectation to sleep, with a month-long break at the end of it.
And sometimes for me that flight is the cargo transporter that took Indiana Jones towards India and the Temple of Doom.
And nowadays, the fan takes me back to the airconditioning of the converted houseboat where we spent our idyllic honeymoon.
And when the axis of the fan has been set upon its perpetual rotation, creakingly swaying back and forth through its sixty degree window, our boat is now transported out to sea, slowly rocking from side to side.
Sometimes difficulty with sleep can give you a lot of space to relax...