Sunday 15 January 2017

Sleep only helps if you know you've slept!

Here I am, wide awake in bed. 
Is it Tuesday? 
Which bed is this? 
How does water break?
Was I ever well? 

Where am I?

Oh yeh, I’m visiting my mother. London calling. Brain swirling, body coughing up a storm. Put the light on, look at the watch, see the time.

2:15 am.

Please no. Please don’t let me feel this awake at two in the morning. If I have a bad night now that Beelzebub of a chest infection will make another curtain call.

I’ve just finished the second load of antibiotics, but maybe the bastard bug was viral after all.

Been ill so long I've forgotten what well feels like. I know thousands of you out there have suffered the same way. 

Weeks ago, the Snapper’s New Year’s Eve kiss was an exceptionally brave effort, of which I was wholly unaware. 

Apparently she stole into the bedroom at midnight and planted a smacker on my lips, as they flapped in and out, chugging forth a bellowing snore of snot and human slurry.

You romantic beast, Adley.

Must sleep. Can’t get ill again. Must not infect my 87 year-old mum, who is at the moment fitter than both of her sons. Last night I was half of a dubious double act: The Coughing Adley Brothers of North West London.

Must sleep. After a good night's sleep the next day I feel well. Must feel well so I can be a helpful and pleasant visitor, otherwise what the hell am I here for?

Must sleep. Simple as that. Must sleep. Pick up the book. That'll do it. Chaim Potok writing about an artist’s struggle to remain faithful to his Hassidic Jewish traditions, while creating what his community considers idolatrous paintings.

20 minutes of that and I’ll be back in the land of nod. Eyes swim over the tiny print. Mind sinks into exhaustion, then suddenly rises up, bursting into the realm of anxiety and that dazzling glaring light, reserved for utter wakefulness in the middle of the night.

Is this the third week or the third month of it? If things are messy on my insides, my outer shell has fallen to pieces. I have a body that demands exercise, stretches and what we humans generally call movement. 

I’ve been out for walks but can only manage short excursions and afterwards I feel disproportionately exhausted, which it puts me off trying it again for a good while. 

When I do walk (I still have to go to the loo) bits of me that once were firm are now wobbling up and down like elephant’s jowls. My flesh is either shaking or bulging out and oh boy, it ain’t pretty.

So I’ve lain in my bed or sat in my chair, trying to enjoy the detritus of Christmas goodies that I was too ill to eat at the time. 

Trouble is my taste buds are wiped. so I’m only feeling the sensation of chocolate biscuits and mince pies on my tongue, rather than savouring them

Not much point in poisoning my arteries with them really, but I feel robbed, so I’m being a stubborn ignorant prat and eating them anyway. The payoff from this cocktail of physical inertia and intense calorie collection is brutal though.

At last, the words blurr on the page. Brain going bye-byes. Eleventy thriple. Chilcott Report. Dirty socks and marmalade. Turn out the light and sleep. Beautiful restorative sleep will come, I know, and wow that must be some full moon.

Look at it shining through the curtains! Unusual for a full moon to show so strongly in London!

Back in my County Galway home, in an area of little light pollution, a full moon can burn its light through the bedroom blinds so powerfully that I have been known to get up to check I haven’t left the exterior lights on, even though I know I haven’t, because I can be quite altogether neurotic when I want to be.

But here, in the bright suburbs of the megatropolis? How can it be so bright here? And hey, hang on a minute. It’s not the time for a full moon. It was just past crescent when I left Ireland, so at best it must be half full and why am I even contemplating matters such as full moons and crescent moons when I should be asleep? 

3 in the morning now. If I have a sleepless night I’ll be useless. My cough will return with a vengeance, and how will I live with the guilt of giving an 87 year-old woman a life-threatening chest infection and oh my good god I am so far from sleep now it’s ridiculous.

Look at those curtains. I swear that moonlight is glowing even stronger now than it was before.

Rolling out of bed, I walk to the window, part the curtains and look outside to see daylight. Morning has broken, long ago, and going over to my phone I see that the time is 7:55.

My watch insists it is 3:15, but the rest of the world says differently and hallelujah! I did not have a bad night at all. In fact I slept for over 8 hours. Now I just need to work on adjusting my head and body to this fresh dawn; this happy truth.

Wake up and feel wonderful, because you are rested and repaired!


Hmmm, might take a few minutes to convince myself of that. At least I know I haven’t suddenly become an insomniac. The reason I couldn’t get back to sleep was because I’d kipped enough already. 

Even more silly, all those worries, fears and concerns that cascaded around my brainbox for the last hour had no basis in reality.

Note to self: when taunted by those dark three in the morning voices in your head, remember it might be twenty to eight.

©Charlie Adley

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