Sleep is for the weak
Apparently my Scumbag Brain is ensuring I get the least amount of sleep possible. Probably because it’s aware that I have shit to be doing and after 30in30-4 happened, I’ve been at a dramatic creative low, meaning that throughout the recent days, I’ve done very little stuff of any real meaning.
Last night was an ordeal, let’s put it that way. Not just thanks to the shenanigans of my brain, but extrinsic factors were also being a bag of dicks. Today was 42ºC during the afternoon, and by night it was still at 26ºC. Now, that sort of heat is uncomfortable for most Australians I reckon, but also bear in mind that I’m originally British. The melting point of your average Briton is 30ºC.
I was relatively lucky throughout the day in that I didn’t need to leave the house, and was able to stay inside with the air-conditioning going full pelt – but that still did not really help me sleep.
Boy oh boy that was a saga in itself.
It started like basically any other regular night. Certainly my sleep pattern is perhaps infinitely far from optimal, but on this occasion I went to bed at almost precisely 1am, which is honestly early for me. Recently I’ve been trying to make this a habit, and my doctor recommended listening to music and chilling out for roughly an hour before bed. I did this, putting on some background rain (via asoftmurmur.com) and ambient music (Brian Eno’s Music for Airports) and kicking back with some fairly mindless forum browsing and IRC conversation before retiring.
With my fan spinning at near-full power beside my bed, and with a splash of cold water on my face and upper torso, my body was ready to get all cool and sleepy.
Unfortunately my brain wasn’t having any of it.
As a musician, songs tend to get stuck in my head. Really badly. Especially at night when my brain activity should be ebbing – in fact, I find myself often riding a creative high when it’s ridiculously late at night. Now, it wasn’t actually the ambient music from earlier that was currently running merry-go-round-like rings around my cerebellum… it was fucking Dream Theater. I’d only listened to parts of their newest album a few hours ago? But apparently they were putting on a concert in the auditorium of my cortex and all my neurons were having a good old mosh.
On top of that, there was a less-than-pleasant smell lingering in the stuffy air around me. Oh yeah, we live right next door to a massive lake. Which at nighttime releases millions of particles of wild bird and fish offings into the atmosphere and pollutes the entire neighborhood with a terrifically uncomfortable stench. Shame, really, because I was rather banking on having the window open in my room in order for my fan to really have any effect at all. At least the AC was still going on in the living room, so I opened my door to let the cooler air through, and shut my window to block out the smell.
After about 50 minutes of wrestling with ridiculous heat, unpleasant lake stink, and a rock concert still taking place in my brain, I got up and went back on IRC to get recommendations for some “mind-alteringly good soothing ambient music”. I got a fairly quick response with Stars of the Lid, and spent about 75 minutes listening to them. Bear in mind that by now it’s about 3:30 in the morning, and the heat hasn’t budged one degree up or down. Finally feeling at least somewhat tired again, I slump unceremoniously into bed.
Nope, still mentally overstimulated. Brain is still playing music in my head.
Eugh, there’s that rotten smell again. Where is it even coming from!?
I laid in bed for about 15 minutes before I got frustrated enough at everything to just get up and start looking around the house for apertures through which the lake stink could still be creeping through. I found no such open windows or doors or anything. My window was shut firm, and had been so for a few hours, and yet my room was somehow filled with this overpowering odor.
I grabbed my pillows and duvet off my bed and stomped into the living room to rest on the sofa under the AC. The smell wasn’t much better here, to be perfectly honest, but tolerable at least. And the sofa here had provided me with a few restful nights where my bed had failed me.
I actually slept for maybe 2 hours on it. It was inordinately rough on my tailbone for a sofa. (For those not in the know, I had a fall in mid-2014 on a bus, and as a result have had intermittent tailbone pain since, which gets aggravated when I sit or lie on anything that’s not a seriously soft surface. I’ve just gotten a mattress topper for my bed, which has softened it somewhat, but also has the side effect of trapping heat beneath me, and this coupled with the harsh Australian nocturnal stuffiness obviously equals a bad time.)
I ended up coming back to my bed and spending the rest of the night – and all of the ensuing morning, as it would turn out – there.
As if that weren’t enough…
My slumber was further made problematic by a series of wacko-jacko dreams about being back in an old school and monsters from Hell turning it into a lava-filled domain of horror. Now, you might be forgiven for thinking that’s cool and all, especially considering I play the original Doom almost religiously, which is all about an invasion from Hell – however, I was definitely not the Doom guy in this particular nightmare scenario, and was very much unarmed and unprepared for everything that was going on. The floor actually was lava, and this was actually mildly frightening.
I did sleep in the end. But as of now, it’s roughly half past one in the afternoon and I’ve only just got up. Hey guess what? Dream Theater are still going strong in my head. In all fairness they had to fill the few hours of my actual sleep with a couple more of their songs.
Ugh, thanks guys. Thanks, lake. Thanks, Sun. And thanks most of all to you, brain. You really live up to the meme.
I’ve spent maybe an hour writing this blog post so I should probably use the rest of the day (all nine hours of it that remain) to do resourceful things.
Man, insomnia’s great.