Counting Sleep

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You’d say “What are you on?”
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I got for a little peace of mind
The Beatles, I’m So Tired

You can tell by a few select Beatles songs that John Lennon had a few issues with sleep, to the point that it commonly occupied his mind. Songs like the one quoted above, as well as “I’m Only Sleeping” are explicit references to this essential human activity. “Across the Universe” is essentially a beautifully poetic lullaby. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, if as they’ve claimed is not about an acid trip, would only otherwise take place in dreamland. Hell – bed-ins are a pretty blatant sign of his favourite place to be.

And I relate. I grew up with insomnia, and so sleep has become so invaluable to me. I live through, some years, very cold winters that make being under blankets a hard thing to give up at the beginning of the day even after a successful rest. I live slightly closer to a pole than the equator, so winter sunrises have barely started by the time I get to work and it’s already well into darkness by the time I get home, so I could go straight to bed without feeling out of place (aside from the hunger of not having eaten dinner). If I were Fozzie in Muppets Take Manhattan I would have no problem assimilating into the hibernating practices of my new home sleuth of fellow bears. Yes, I’m so into sleeping that I remember hibernation references from childhood movies. (Actually that’s more because I’m so into the Muppets. But I digress.)

I sleep walk and I sleep talk. I wake up in the middle of the night just to yet again experience the graceful lull back into slumber. But that lull doesn’t always happen. It used to be an every-night thing that I would have to wait one or two hours to fall asleep; that has now cut itself down to 30-60 minutes most of the time, but occasional nights have several hours of delay. The same applies to mid-night wake-ups. Sleep is not a given for me. It’s a privilege, and I treasure every moment of it, every minute of a soft but dense pillow pressing up against one of my ears to create that perfect balance of comfort and pressure, with my eyes closed and my legs warm under as many blankets as I need.

And as I fall back asleep on these generous opportunities, I mumble something incoherent to somebody who isn’t there.

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