Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Counting Sheep

Sleep. Its so easy to take it for granted, until you don’t have it. Then all hell breaks loose. Not really – if you haven’t slept, then you wont have the energy for hell. In fact, burning to a crisp in the fires of damnation might sound like a good way to go. It would probably be more peaceful.

One person that doesn’t take sleep for granted is Lucy Kellaway, as she documents in A Point of View on the BBC website. I seem to have a frighteningly great deal in common with her. Apart from visiting Chinese doctors. I haven’t had that pleasure…

‘I went to visit a Chinese doctor. Ah yes, he said, insomnia. Very serious. He looked at my tongue and shook his head. Was I worrying about anything, he asked. I said I was worrying about not sleeping.
By way of reassurance he told me that insomnia had already made my hair dry and skin wrinkled and would in time lead to organ failure and early menopause, and would also destroy my relationships with my family and colleagues. Even my mum, I think, wouldn't have gone that far.’

The really frustrating thing is there isn’t really anything you can do about it and lying there worrying just makes things worse. I find that getting up for a while and doing something else, before going back to bed and trying again to sleep sometimes helps. But often it doesn’t.

‘Alternatively one can give up trying to use the time productively and count sheep instead. Yet this didn't work for the singer Robert Wyatt. In his song Heaps of Sheep, the animals, once counted and over the stile, refused to go further and piled up creating a vast writhing heap, causing the sleepless singer to be so traumatised he could no longer even close his eyes.’ Lucy Kellaway
Being without sleep is like torture. In fact, it is often used as such. It wears you down, leaving you more and more like a gibbering wreck. Unable to think, unable to do anything but sit, staring like a zombie, but with your mind still whirring like the exercise wheel of a gerbil high on sugar.
And heaven help anyone who tries to talk to you. Ratty (or gerbilly) doesn’t even come close. Hyper and running on adrenaline one moment, close to tears the next. You know what’s worse? ‘Missing out on sleep may cause the brain to stop producing new cells, a study has suggested.’

Well, that’s just bloody great. How very typical of my life. I can’t sleep, my brain cells are giving up and I’m going slowly mad.

Ok, ok, those of you who know me know I’ve been mad for a while. But still. Going slowly madder.