While the rest of you were sleeping

Last updated 12:17 30/01/2013

First off, I want to apologise to you all. I did say last year that I would try my best not to let my posts get all bunched up at the back end of the week like a pair of misbehaving undies, but here we are at Wednesday with my first offering.

In my defence there was a mitigating factor - namely insomnia.

I had every intention of penning a post first thing on Tuesday morning about something that happened to me last week, and that post will follow tomorrow, but that was before "The Many Hateful Hours of Wakefulness" happened.

As regular readers will know, I'm not an overly gifted sleeper and from time to time I'm downright terrible at it. In most instances I can manage okay with a bad night's sleep under my belt and can still get everything I need to do, done (more or less). Unfortunately I was already sleep deprived on Monday from a couple of nights of less than satisfactory kip.

My beloved Silver Fox had been a bit restless over the weekend. Indeed, on Saturday night he tossed and turned so much that sharing a bed with him was not unlike lying next to a jittery rhinoceros with an inner-ear problem. On a trampoline. I must have woken five or six times during the night and was confused to find that none of these disturbances were caused by aftershocks.

The following night there was stillness but snoring. I won't say by whom. But I may have briefly entertained the notion of suffocation by pillow. Fleetingly. For the merest of milliseconds.

So by Monday night when I hit the hay, I was really looking forward to a full night's rest. And then I woke up at 3am. But that was okay, because sometimes that happens and all you have to do is close your eyes and go back to sleep. Sleeeep. Just drift off back, without letting your brain think too much about anyth-

Ah crap. And before you know it I'm THINKING ALL THE THOUGHTS. Oh no. Stop. Stop it. Stop thinking. Stop thinking about stopping thinking. Arghhh! I'm trapped in a loop of redundant cognition. Make it stop. By the time I'd got to wondering why they named New South Wales "New South Wales" when it couldn't be any more different from old Wales if it tried, or that they really were having a laugh when they named New Caledonia, I had admitted defeat and decided to do what experts always advise in this situation - get up and do something and try going back to bed once I felt sleepy again.

So I got up, went into the living room and started reading my Fran Lebowitz book. Not sleepy. Read a bit more. Still not sleepy. And a bit more. At which point I was feeling more awake than ever, and really starting to resent the hell out of Ms Lebowitz for her un-sedative qualities.

Sleeping Huntress, Mackelvie Trust Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, bequest of Dr Walter Auburn, 1982
 "Ugh. Maybe I should do some crunches?"
So desperate was I to invite sleepiness into my arms that I actually considered doing some kind of exercise to bring on tiredness. "What if I did some crunches?" I asked myself, insanely. This is the kind of madness that only a profound lack of sleep can prompt in me.

In the end, I decided that I would just lie on the couch with the lights off and pretend very hard to feel sleepy. This would be sure to work.

Some way through mentally compiling a grocery list for the following day, the Silver Fox (and part-time dizzy acrobatic rhino) tapped me on the head and informed me that it was after 5am and would I like to come back to bed? Which I did. So I could lie awake for a bit longer in a slightly different location.

Eventually I did nod off for a bit before the alarm woke me up at 6am... so that I could get up early and write a blog post but now that I really needed to be awake, sleep had me in its languorous grip and would not let me go. I arose from my bed just after 7am in much the same manner and frame of mind as a freshly buried corpse might drag its zombie carcass out of its grave.

And that's why there was no blog post yesterday. Mind you, I did have the opportunity to observe myself for the rest of the day being utterly useless in that special way that really tired people have.

I wonder if you recognise any of the following signs of tiredness -

  • Eyes, which usually take up only 25 per cent of the total face area, now seem to inhabit up to 70 per cent.
  • Unnaturally long periods of not blinking, sometimes in combination with the baleful gaze of Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange
  • Far too much blinking, more and more slooowly, until your eyes are nearly shut...before you snap your head to attention and try to figure out what you missed.
  • Father Dougal eyes. This wide-eyed, plaintive stare comes into play when you are asked an otherwise simple question that you should absolutely have no problem answering but which creates such a dilemma in your mind that your brain exerts pressure on your eyeballs, which start to "bug out". Questions such as "what would you like for tea?" fall into this category.
  • Grunts, sighs, squeals and whines. These paralinguistic utterances replace normal language and though they don't utilise any words, they can convey such complex ideas as, "hello", "yes, I will do that thing you just asked me to do", "Ow, why did that thing that I just walked into get in my way? Does it hate me?", and "Get out of my way before I staple you in the face".
  • Where words and sentences are formed there may basic grammatical or syntactic errors. For instance you might mean to say "Yes, I can have that done by the end of the day" but what you actually say is "Aaaaaaaarhhhhh!"
  • New words may be created, such as "quarp" which is a version of the word "crap" as uttered when in the middle of yawning.
  • At work you start eyeing up flat surfaces of the sort that you might lay your weary head upon - the couch in the staffroom, your desk, the floor, the flattened boxes in the cardboard skip...

Do you recognise any of the above from times when you have been stupidly tired? Have you ever done anything really dumb when you were under the influence of insomnia (like crunches?).

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