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Sleep Easy

Feb 09, 2019
I left the function promptly at 11:00 pm because, in a moment of madness, I’d decided to take the bus home and I knew that the last bus was due at 11:10 pm. I suspected it was going to be a rather alcohol laden evening so maybe I’d made the right decision. In addition, because it had become rather bulky with the addition of a new birthday present leather case, I had left my mobile phone at home.

Tony Allen: And finally...It was a rather cold and windy evening, in fact I wish that I’d have worn a jumper, but at least I was wearing my warmish overcoat - which, thankfully, was also waterproof. I say thankfully because it had just started to rain.  

As the lights in the distant function room were slowly extinguished and the last vehicle slowly pulled away; it suddenly appeared ominously quiet. If this had been a BBC drama you would have heard the hoot of a distant barn owl pervading the stillness.

It was now 11:25 pm; no bus and the rain was colder and heavier. The bus had obviously been cancelled and, as I had no mobile, there was no choice for me but to walk.  Journey distance, two miles; average speed three miles per hour; journey time forty minutes; not too bad.

As I strode out in the cold and increasingly discomforting rain, I traced every step in my mind.  Finally I arrived home, slowly turned the key in the door and entered the comforting household warmth. Silently I climbed the stairs, removed my wet clothes, tried - successfully - not to wake the sleeping Mrs Allen and sought the enveloping contours of my favourite pillow.

Within seconds I was sound asleep ….

Now I tell you this story because it did not actually happen, apart from in my mind that is. For a whole host of reasons, sometimes we all have problems in getting to sleep and when it happens to me, this is the method which I always use. I imagine every moment of this journey which is why I mentioned earlier about tracing every step in my mind.  My one dread is that one day the bus might turn up and spoil the whole effect. I know that this might all sound a bit daft, but it really is my way of getting to sleep when all else fails. In fact so much so that sometimes I am fast asleep before I am even half way home.

The mind is a perfidious friend, think of those times when you have to leave home really early the next morning in order to catch a plane or you have a distant appointment. You go to bed early and you lay there hour after hour, wide awake and intermittently checking the alarm to make sure that you have set it correctly. You try counting in even numbers, you start counting sheep but after a while they refuse to appear and you worry about how you are going to find a border collie at this time of night. And what finally happens? You fall into a deliciously deep sleep about half an hour before the alarm goes off. Life can be so unfair.

As I said earlier there are many reasons why we have trouble sleeping, one of the main ones being a surfeit of adrenalin caused either by something that you have done badly (recrimination) or something that you have done well (self-congratulation). Going through writing this column in my head can often cause a loss of sleep, I can envisage the whole thing and then forget it in the morning. But the worst condition is when you know that you need a good night’s sleep in order to face an important task the next morning and you lay there hour after hour in a state of approaching panic having long ago run out of sheep. I really must sleep but my brain keeps talking to itself.

Now let’s talk about snoring, and I’m sure that most of us have experienced this greatest barrier to a good night’s sleep. Of course nobody will admit to the fact that they snore because they very rarely hear themselves. This impediment can drive partners apart, quite literally. The lady wife and I have not reached that point but when describing my snoring, the words ‘steam train’ often get used, which makes me think that snoring must be hereditary because I can remember my Mother saying this about my Father.

So there you have it, we just have to strive to get our six hours or eight hours a night - depending on who you listen to. I really don’t want to appear pretentious, but surely it is patently obvious that the best cure for insomnia is a good night’s sleep.

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