Sleepless nights, gee I hate them. One minute you’re deep in drowsy land. The next, boom, you’re conscious.
A quick glance round the room tells you the sun ain’t up. You’re not in Kansas. It’s time to settle in for an extended period of lying awake.
It gets you wondering what you’ve done wrong.
Have you gone to bed too early?
Have you gone to bed too late?
Should you get up and clean the bathroom?
Routine questions that often compete with your partner’s snoring.
What amazes me when this happens is that, in the absence of anything else, I’ll start to worry about things.
What I’ve done, what I should have done, what I’m going to do. It’s so boring it should send me to sleep, but it doesn’t.
Why can’t it be that instead of apprehension, you have automatic hyper-positive thoughts?
‘‘My god, yes, I will be able to fund my kid’s university education.’’
‘‘Holy cow, I can’t wait to be thrown on the employment scrap heap.’’
‘‘Gee, retiring at 90 will be fun.’’
Damn you Joe Hockey’s budget.
It begs the question: how much sleep do we actually need?
As much as we get, I suppose.
But how much do we deserve?
Well, talk to the hand, the brain’s not co-operating.
Eight hours is the usual recipe.
Researchers claim, however, that there is a small proportion of the population who get by fine on just a few hours.
They’re known as ‘‘parents of newborns’’. Just kidding. Well, sort of.
Actually, they’re known as the “sleepless elite”.
And we’ve probably all known members of this clan. They got 99.9 in the HSC, they partied hard at uni and their purpose in life, until they became CEO of some multinational company, was to exhaust everyone.
They’re probably the reason you burnt out, trying to keep up.
Among their ranks are guys such as Donald Trump who can’t fathom how sleep and success coexist.
Donald once asked: ‘‘How does somebody that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?’’ This may explain his bouffant.
Retired General Stanley A.McChrystal, former commander of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, famously eats one meal a day and sleeps only four hours a night. This may explain a lot about what’s wrong with US foreign policy.
Not sleeping is often associated with genius, brilliance and creativity, but mainly insomnia.
Van Gogh, Stephen Fry, Caligula were all prone to mania. By all accounts, it’s not that pleasant.
Pythagoras was an eccentric genius.
Getting my head round his hypotenuse theory kept me up, let me tell you.
But Pythagoras also believed beans were evil, so no wonder he couldn’t sleep.
A connection between lying awake and going mad is evident when you’re doing it. You can try diversional therapies.
One million and one sheep, one million and two. One million and ... ah, give up.
You can try relaxation techniques, like, ‘‘for *&^&%#% sake, just go to sleep’’.
But as soon as you start shouting, you know you’ve lost that argument.
So, often, it’s best just to heave from side to side, kick off the blankets and try to disrupt the snoring of the person beside you.
Alternatively, being afraid of the dark is a good distraction. Not that I am, ahem.
You can spend hours, I’ve found, I mean, I’ve read, imagining some menace outside the door. It’s helpful as a breathing exercise.
Or, rather, a not-breathing exercise. You wouldn’t want whatever it is you’re imagining out there to hear you.
They might come and get you, and you don’t want that.
But you do want to hear if they’re moving. So you can grab the baseball bat.
Unfortunately, this type of ridiculous hyper-alertness is counterproductive to the process of getting to sleep.
But it takes your mind off the budget, or any other worries.
People who aren’t concerned by things that go bump in the night often suggest you should just roll over and go back to sleep. Well, derrrr, if it was that easy.
They argue that chances are there’s nothing out there; and if there is, better get ‘‘Slugger’’ ready.
To me, this negates the idea that vigilance is the price of freedom. Even if nothing is there. I’m sure General McChrystal would back me up on that one.
For the record, the one time I really thought we had a home invader on our hands, using an oxy torch to gain entry to our house, it turned out to be the off-peak hot-water system firing up at 4am.
Such are the things you find yourself thinking in the wee small hours of a disrupted night’s sleep.
Often I try and hang for the alarm to go off at 7am so I can listen to the news.
But I guarantee, as soon as the ABC theme music comes on, I nod off, only to hear the tail end of the weather. Cruel.