Monday, February 25, 2008

Sleepless in the Suburbs

It’s now 3:25am and way past my bed time. It’s also one of those nights where I hate my beloved, Love Chunks, with a passion. No, he didn’t sleep with the Penthouse Gymnastics team or gamble away our life savings, it’s much more annoying. He’s one of those lucky, lucky bastards who only has to roll over and say "Goodni---" and be fast asleep before his head has even made a dent in the pillow.

In direct contrast, Sleep and I have a very fraught relationship; kind of like Woody Allen and Mia Farrow. Once we were very close; soul-mates who spent quality time together and got along like a house on fire, but now we are completely estranged and wonder just what the hell we had in common in the first place. A court case is soon to follow, with me prosecuting Sleep for breach of contract: failure to provide decent, regular service under the 8/24 agreement I signed up for.

Love Chunks isn't the one to blame for my predicament. A couple of years ago he bravely underwent surgery to get his – erm, I’m not sure what the exact medical term is – fleshy ‘curtains on the side of the stage’ in his throat cut out so that he’d no longer snore like an bellowing elephant trapped in quicksand. He endured two weeks of agony afterwards so that he’d no longer be banished to the spare room or be glared at for the entire time the sun was up. It worked too - all I hear now is a faint 'Ooosh Ooosh' sound of air travelling in and out of his newly constructed Heysen Tunnel.

Sometimes the insomnia can be blamed on the pillows. Too flat, too hot (so flip them over, I hear you say - and I do, so often they might as well be set on rollers), too high, too hard, too soft.... The quilt - too cold, too fluffy or LC's hogging too much of it... The room? Too bright, too dark, too creaky. The local hoons who seem to choose our end of the street to do their black tyre skid mark signatures and burn outs? Who the hell knows but surely they're not actually attracting any potential shag partners doing so?

Well, I do know the reason for my insomnia actually. It's my stupid, over-loaded-with-useless-pop-culture brain. It's a well known fact that human beings have been estimated as only being capable of using ten percent of their brain capacity during their lifetimes, but did the lab coats who spent their grant money on Pocket Pen Protectors and Tomb Raider toiletries ever stop to consider the insomniac sufferers amongst us?

For us, a further 60% of the brain is worn out but unfortunately not in a useful way. Instead, we lie awake with our eyes squeezed shut, trying to approximate the state of relaxation when in reality our bodies are completely rigid as we try to block out inane ditties such as the Wiggles' song 'Wobbly Wobbly Wobbly Dance.' My daughter hasn't played that video for five years yet it's that song that tonight decides to superglue itself inside my complaining cranium and replay itself over and over and over.

Even when I try to change the track listing and instead imagine that I'm lying in my childhood bedroom, trying to remember where all the furniture was and what toys I had, the song keeps creeping in: "Wobbly wobbly wobbly dance….Front, back and side to side…..", so that I actually, genuinely want to be having a nightmare but one where I'm the bad guy: kicking over Anthony the blue one's fake drum set, smashing Murray the red one's guitar, violently shaking Jeff awake and giving that smug yellow one Greg a good hard kick in the goolies.*

That poetic visualisation can often make things better for me in the bedroom, but not tonight. I stayed laying there on my hot pillow, under the scratchy quilt, biting uncomfortably down on my retarded mouth guard as though it was a chunk of wood in my teeth to help me get through the pain of a bullet being yanked out of my leg by John Wayne. The Wiggles had finally departed my brain, no doubt being taken to the emergency ward by Dorothy the dinosaur with Henry the Octopus driving and Captain Feathersword seeking legal counsel.

Not for long, unfortunately. They must have needed petrol in the big red car or forgot their keys or something: "Dorothy! Dorothy! Would you like to dance with me?" I tried my damnedest to think of a classic 'Nebraska' or 'Ghost of Tom Joad' Springsteen mope tune to give me a big enough downer to numb me for sleep. But nooooo, I had already moved on to a mental stocktake of what toys I have stashed in the cupboard for children’s birthdays - Sam will be getting a Bionicle pack like all of the other boys' parties that my eight-turning-nine-this year daughter will be invited to. And for the love of god, did I need to try and figure out where sesame seeds come from tonight?

Like all insomniacs, I know that taking a trip to the loo might do the trick bladder-wise, but is fraught with disappointment in terms of seeking any opportunity to slip back into bed, 200ml lighter, ready for Nod Land. An empty bladder, alas, does not equal an empty mind. Still, I go through the standard, worn-out, futile routine. I walk s-l-o-w-l-y through the house, hoping to be quiet but instead allowing each and every 80 year old floorboard to crack and squeak. I make sure to keep my eyes shut in the vain hope that my body will think it’s asleep. I successfully groped my way carefully along the walls into our newly renovated bathroom until I accidentally touch the heated towel rail, flung my hand backwards and cracked it against the door handle. F%$#@!!

Oh who the hell was I kidding? I decided that I might as well stay awake and see what Benny Hinn's got to say to his devoted flock today. Maybe not. Milly the dog, not known for her ability to tell time, got excited and thought it was time for a run. “Get down beast, you're scratching my legs with your claws. No, it's not time for a run or walkies just yet, can't you see that from the silent yet deadly glare from my road-map like red eyes? Get down!" I said in my most furious whisper. A few hopeful licks of my bare feet and a ‘thumpa thumpa thumpa’ of her tail against the coffee table was her answer.

Eventually, I gave in to the obvious and had a squizz inside the fridge. Mmmm chocolate.....such a shame when three rows snap off instead of one. No point in putting them back, is there? There was also a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee that had a ‘use by’ date of today and if anyone needed to 'feel good' it was me.
Alrighty then, so Zzzzeds in bed was clearly not going to happen for me tonight – or should I say this morning, so I decided to stay up, eat my choccie, sip my FUIC, enjoy myself and suffer the grumps later on this afternoon.
I’ll just go and slip on a DVD, preferably something featuring John Cusack, lie back on the lounge and give Milly a good cuddle, making sure that no chocolate gets smeared on her ears or the new lounge cushions. Life isn't too bad after all I s’pose. Even if I do get irritable today, no-one will notice anything unusual. So, if we only use ten percent of our brains, and supposing that insomniacs use another 60% at night on useless thoughts, then what is the remaining thirty percent used for..........

* I know it’s Sam who’s the yellow one these days, but it was Greg who sang the stupid song in Sapphire’s old video and therefore he is the one who will be paying his dues. In my head at least.


franzy said...

I'm right there with you, fellow unsleepian.

But I've got the medicine: seriously. This is a thing my mum got taught by our family sleep researcher

1. If you can't sleep, get up. If you think you've been laying there, trying to go to sleep for twenty minutes, get straight out of bed and go and read a book, do sudoko, surf the net. Do that for twenty minutes or so, then go back to bed. If you're still not sleeping, repeat. Repeat as long as necessary. Get up as many times as you need to.

2. Get up at the normal time. Set the alarm for eight am or whatever and DO NOT LAY IN BED thinking that because you had SUCH a bad night that you deserve a lay-in. You are only borrowing sleep from your future self who will have to toss and turn and flip the hot pillow that evening. Get up.

It seriously works. I know because I tried it myself last night. This morning my resolve was rewarded by the entire block of flats helping me wake up at eight by having races in the car-park and by Mele waking me up from my Transformer-orientated dreams at four am.

River said...

You too? I would LOVE to know where sesame seeds come from. Which plant? What does it look like? Can I grow it?

Chocolate+coffee=no sleep for you?

Try Franzy's tips. I don't have any useful tips. I'm one of those who falls asleep easily.

eleanor bloom said...

I'll add my 2cents worth: Try FUSION's 'Sleep'. They're a chinese herbal thingamee, in tablets from your health store. I've tried heaps of these kind of things but these ones actually seem to work! But you have to give them a couple of months as they're more a long term thing - as these chinese med things seem to be.

Kath Lockett said...

Hi Guys
You're right, Franzy - I should have got out of bed about four hours earlier.... I envy you, River and I'll try and find Fusion's 'Sleep', Eleanor.

I went back to bed at 5am and was woken up not only by the alarm, Love Chunks and Sapphire at 7am but also by a migraine. Rest of day spent in bed (how ironic) clutching head and sick bucket in agony. Very un fun.

redcap said...

I was sleepless most of last week, so I feel at least a small amount of your pain. There's nothing quite like turning on the telly at 4am because you're too tired to read, but too tired to sleep, only to find you have a choice between a test pattern, a pop music show, two US preachers and the women's lawn bowls. Not even the lawn bowls could put me to sleep.

PS Using your real name now, eh? That's a big move!

Deep Kick Girl said...

I sooooo hear you MM. I used to be a good sleeper but something about having children has "fixed" that. Like yours, my husband falls asleep before his head hits the pillow and nothing, I mean NOTHING, will wake him up.

Yesterday I finally took the script for sleeping meds I asked my Doctor for about a month ago to the chemist to get filled. But I'm still a little anxious about taking one. I'm scared I'm going to turn into a drug-induced Zombie, stealing neighbours' video players for my next fix (OK, I've possibly watched too many '80s drug movies).

Probably tonight will be the night though. I can't stand another night of tossing and turning, battling with that hot/cold pillow, etc.

franzy said...

So last night I went to bed after Mrs Franzy had finished tossing and turning, read my book for a (short) while and MWAHAHAHA!!! SLEEP WAS MINE!! This morning was a little bit tough because of the whole second part of the theory that says that you have to get up when the alarm goes off, but here I am!

If herbal remedies are your bag, then I've got one for you. It's called The Big Fat Bong Hit. Guaranteed sleep, eat as many caffeinated products as you like and fall into a blissful slumber right there on the couch with Doggadoo.* No hangover, no ill-effects, late-night teev is much better and brushing your teeth feels TOTALLY AWESOME YOU GOTTA TRY THIS EVERYBODY.

*Milly the DOG now?!? I'm with redcap - why the name change?

Rosanna said...

I am not quite as bad as you, but I do find that on the nights when I can't sleep - I get stressed because I'm not sleeping. And then I can't sleep even more than before.

Insomnia sounds awful - but I am glad that Love Chunks now has a clear tunnel to breathe through!

River said...

Yes, I miss MillyMoo too. Kath Lockett just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Kath Lockett said...

Yeah yeah, I loved 'Millymoo' too, but seeing as 2008 is my self-designated "Year of saying 'yes' to any opportunity", I thought I should put my real name out there. Just in case. Millymoo's still lurking within me though!

dr b said...

Franzy's 'thing' definitely works, I used that myself. Also, don't brush your teeh right before bed, that will totally wake you up - just happened to me.
Brus teeth straight after dinner and at your first yawn jump into your bed. It is like surfing, you have to catch the sleeping wave when it arrives!

Kath Lockett said...

Hmmm, Franzy's second idea might be valid but NOT for those of us (ie moi) who are already trying to lose a fair chunk of 'book fat' and don't need to have nightly attacks of the munchies as well..!

Will said...

Great writing. Really good stuff! I'd love to work with you on my blog. I'd would be great to have you share some things there as well. If you ever have the time or interest, let me know.


Anonymous said...

If you're still awake at 5.30am, listen to the British Comedy repeats on Radio National - you may as well be amused as awake.

Or listen to the talkback on 5AA and wonder how it is you and some other people can be of the species.


PS would it be wrong-side-of-Magill-Rd of me to say that I'd never heard of you till you were interviewed this morning on the local ABC radio?

Kath Lockett said...

Of course not, dear Anonymous! After all, I didn't go to the 'right' schools, wasn't invited to Lleyton's wedding, never lived in the Big Brother house and don't have the body (or will) to flash myself in a bikini in order to advertise my 'skills' on radio...

Wrong side of Magill Road yes, with the right amount of snark to go with it!