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I Am Sleep. Let Me Lull.

Sleep on repeat.

By GK BirdPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 9 min read
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I Am Sleep. Let Me Lull.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

SLEEP: “Hi, I think it’s time you and I had a little talk.”

ME: “OK.”

SLEEP: “Now, we don’t talk as much as we should. We both know that. But I’m hoping you’ll listen to me now. Do you think you can hear me out?”

ME: “Sure.”

SLEEP: “Is it fair to say that most, if not all, of your days are the same? Wake up. Do stuff. Go to sleep. Wake up. Do stuff. Go to sleep.”

ME: “Pretty well.”

SLEEP: “So, you know that I’m here for you every single day. Day in and day out, for better or worse. Sleep on repeat, yeah?”

ME: “I guess so.”

SLEEP: “So, what I really want to know is why you won’t move me back to the top of your list of priorities? Why do you fight me? Why do you hate me so much when all I want to do is help you? I’m trying to keep you alive here.”

ME: “Well, I, um...”

SLEEP: “Look, we’ve all had a really crappy couple of years. I get that. Everyone’s sleep schedules are all over the place. No one can work out if they’re coming or going or standing still. You’re anxious and angry and so, so tired. Can you explain why you won’t let me help you?”

ME: “I, ah…”

SLEEP: “It’s that time of the year when we make resolutions. A time for new beginnings. Out with the old, in with the new, type of thing. Now, I can’t promise that this coming year will be better than the last two. Nobody can promise that. Even those future-predicting people. But, if you just let me help, move me up the list of important things in your life, I can promise that you’ll feel better. You’ll be more relaxed and less anxious and not as angry.”

ME: “Hmm…”

SLEEP: “Not convinced, huh? Come on, you know how important I am. I take up a third of your day and without me, you can’t function at your best for the other two thirds. I help your creativity, your energy levels, concentration, cognitive function, memory, physical health, mental health, immune system, weight gain and loss, cardiovascular system, reproductive system, mood. In fact, there’s probably no part of you that I don’t affect by either my presence or my absence.

“I’m your free therapist. When you dream, I help your brain decode values and meanings from your experiences and emotions. I fortify your memories and mix and match and blend disparate things to give you your creativity.

“You know all this, but you still fight me, neglect me, complain about me, or just plain ignore me when I tell you it’s time to go to bed.

“You can’t say you don’t know how I work or why you need me. Remember when you read Why We Sleep by Dr Matthew Walker a couple of years ago? You immediately moved me up to the top of your priority list but after a few months, I slipped back down without you even noticing. I think you need to make that an annual read.”

ME: “Hmm, you might be right. I do remember how that book made me feel. For a while, I didn’t resent you so much. For a while, I understood you and how you work, what you do for me and how you affect me. I was determined to give you the respect you deserved.”

SLEEP: “So, what happened?”

ME: “Life. Life happened. Other things pushed their way up the list. Things like work and social media and Netflix and pandemics. I don’t like to admit it, but I started to resent you again because you take up so much of my time.”

SLEEP: “Don’t tell me. I know what you’re going to say. You’ve said it a million times before: ‘Think of all the things I could get done if I didn’t have to sleep. I could have another eight productive hours in my day. I’d probably be rich.’ Right?”

ME: “Yep. Exactly.”

SLEEP: “But what if I flipped it and said: ‘Think of all the things you don’t get done because you haven’t had enough sleep. With a regular eight or so hours of sleep, you could be way more creative and productive in the other sixteen hours. You could’ve been rich.’ What do you think?”

ME: “Well, maybe...”

SLEEP: “You know I’m right. So, how about this year we commit to a bit more self-care? The last two years have been awful, but the next ones don’t have to be so bad. We’re almost two years into this pandemic, so we know more about it now, even if it does look like hanging around for a bit longer. You need to start being proactive and taking care of yourself, rather than reactive and taking blow after blow after blow without even putting up your dukes. You try so hard to do things for others, that you forget to do the same for yourself.”

ME: “I think you’ve convinced me. Can you see me hanging my head in shame? I promise to stop resenting you and neglecting you and fighting you. I promise that this year I’ll give you the respect you deserve and I’ll let you do your job without argument.”

SLEEP: “Good. Now we’re on the same page. You know, it’s not all about me, though. You need to be kinder to yourself and sometimes put yourself first. We should make our new year’s resolutions as a partnership. You do some stuff for me to make my job easier and I’ll help you be a better person, a healthier person, going forward. Actually, no, let’s not call them resolutions. No one sticks with resolutions. Let’s call them ‘lifestyle upgrades’. What do you say, hey?”

ME: “Yes. Absolutely. Count me in. Let’s do it as a couple. I’ll grab some paper and a pen; you help me with the words.”

SLEEP: “I can think of eight off the top of my head. Are you ready?”

ME: “Ready.”

SLEEP: “Number one: Get a new mattress. How long have you had that one now? Ten years, fifteen years, longer? It’s looking a bit saggy. (I don’t like to say it but it’s a bit like your stomach after all those lockdown meals, tbh). Your mattress is probably why you wake up with a sore neck most mornings.”

ME: “New mattress. Got it.”

SLEEP: “Number two: Exercise and spend some time outdoors. A health upgrade, like exercise, doesn’t just help me. It helps all parts of your life. Exercising helps your body get down to the good deep sleep states at night. But if you do it too close to going to bed, you’ll find it hard to switch off. Try not to do it within about three hours of bedtime.”

ME: “Exercise. That’s a no-brainer.”

SLEEP: “Number three: Don’t drink alcohol within four hours of bedtime and don’t drink caffeine within six hours. Alcohol disrupts your sleep and suppresses your REM sleep. If you go to sleep with alcohol in your system, you’ll have more micro-wake-ups during the night even though you won’t remember it. And caffeine, well caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors which tell you that you need to sleep and messes with your body clock. Another upgrade that doesn’t only help me, but other systems in your body too.”

ME: “No alcohol within four hours of bedtime. No caffeine within six hours of bedtime. Fine.”

SLEEP: “Number four: Dim the lights in the evening and make sure your bedroom is completely dark when you sleep. No television flickering in the background, no street lights peeking in, no morning sunlight waking you up too early.”

ME: “Dim lights and blackout curtains. Sure.”

SLEEP: “Number five: Don’t use electronic devices too close to bedtime. The blue LED lights can affect your circadian rhythms and melatonin levels. If you want to read before bed, read a paper book. If you have to use an electronic device, install software that desaturates the blue light but still put it away at least an hour before bedtime.”

ME: “No electronic devices too close to bedtime. Agreed.”

SLEEP: “Number six: Chill out. Keep your bedroom cold. No higher than 18°C or 65°F. You’ll also feel safer under those blankets.”

ME: “Cold bedroom, snuggly blankets. Check.”

SLEEP: “Number seven: Pick a bedtime that works for you and try to be consistent. Once it becomes a habit, your body will expect it and your sleep will be better quality. Oh, and pick a consistent wake up time, too.”

ME: “Same bedtime every night and wake up time every morning. Righto.”

SLEEP: “Number eight: Aim to get around eight hours of sleep every night. Between seven and nine seems to be the sweet spot. Less than six can reduce your lifespan. And remember, you can’t make it up on the weekend. It’s not a credit/debit situation. Try to be consistent every day.”

ME: “Eight hours of sleep a night. Ha, I can see why you made that number eight. Eight for eight.”

SLEEP (chuckles): “Alright. Can you think of anything else?”

ME: “How about, Number nine: Don’t nap during the day, especially if I’m having trouble sleeping at night?”

SLEEP: “Yes. While short naps may be a short-term solution to needing a sudden burst of concentration or focus, regular longer ones can mess up your body clock.

“Can we round it out to an even ten lifestyle upgrades? I do like even numbers.”

ME: “Something to do with meals? Like improve my diet and don’t have a large meal or eat too late at night?”

SLEEP: “Perfect. Another one not just about me. Try not to eat a lot within three hours of bedtime. You can have a small snack before bed, like a piece of fruit or a few crackers, if your stomach is grumbling.

”All right. There’s our ten. Do you want to read them back to me to make sure you got them all?”

ME: “1. New mattress.

“2. Exercise.

“3. No alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime.

“4. Dim lights in the evening and keep bedroom fully dark.

“5. No electronic devices too close to bedtime.

“6. Cold bedroom.

“7. Try for same bedtime and wake up time every day.

“8. Aim for eight hours sleep a night.

“9. No naps during the day if it affects my night-time sleep.

“10. Better diet and don’t eat a large meal too close to bedtime.”

SLEEP: “Now, that’s a pretty solid list of lifestyle upgrades. This coming year will be so much better than the last couple. You’ll take care of yourself more by following that list and my lulling will level up. I do so love to lull. I just wish everyone took me this seriously.

“This has been a really nice talk. We should do it more often. Now, I think you should go and read that book again. The one that motivated you last time.”

ME: “I will. And I’ll put this list on the fridge so I see it every day.”

SLEEP (mumbling): “Considering how often you go to the fridge every day, it’ll be burned into your brain in very short order.”

ME: “What?”

SLEEP: “What? I didn’t say anything.”

ME: “OK, well, see you later tonight, I guess.”

SLEEP (winks): “Count on it.”

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About the Creator

GK Bird

Australian fiction writer and reader, always on the lookout for good writing.

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