And Alex Said... Sleep

29 October 2007

I’d love to be able to sleep all day. Well, not really all day - that’s technically a coma. That would just upset my family, and I’d miss Dragon’s Den.

Getting up at 7am is uncomfortable and surely unnatural. If my body was supposed to get up early in the morning, it would feel good, just like eating and sex. Animals just get up when they want - dogs don’t have alarm clocks, and I’ve never seen a sparrow in Starbucks. So why do we humans need to force ourselves awake to start work at 9am? Is it any wonder that we spend all day talking crap and achieving nothing of any real importance?

Would we not get more work done if we could turn up at a more humane and reasonable time, say 3pm? I think the increase in productivity would more than compensate for the reduction in working hours, so much so that we could even leave work earlier, say at 4.30pm. If we combine this with a half-hour siesta, and a couple of fifteen-minute breaks, I’m sure we’d all get much more work done and be a lot happier.

I suggested this to my boss and he said that I should probably start looking for another job. Clearly he thinks that I’m wasted where I am and would be much better off as a highly paid management consultant.

If you can’t sleep, there are various things you can try. Nytol is one popular brand of sleeping pill, although you must heed the warnings not to use heavy machinery while under its influence. Personally there’s nothing I like better to soothe myself to sleep than operating a JCB to dig a few trenches in the driveway.

The old-fashioned way is to count sheep, but these days you’re unlikely to find any sheep around, particularly in urban areas. In any case, it’s likely to be very dark, which can make it difficult to see sheep, even if there does happen to be a flock wandering about town. Rural areas are usually poorly lit, and even so, sheep don’t like to sleep under bright lights. You might think that they could then just count themselves to sleep, but you’d be very wrong and stupid to think something so ridiculous.

You’re better off just counting how many different shades of black you can see, or having nice mug of hot chocolate. Failing that, just get up and go to work - a sure-fire way of beating the morning rush.

It’s always interested me how you need less sleep as you get older. Maybe old people don’t sleep as long because they’re determined to make the most of their autumn days. It’s unfortunate that their idea of a fulfilling life consists of episodes of Countdown and Inspector Morse, although I can see that it’s difficult for a pensioner to afford activities such as skydiving or trekking in the Himalayas.

I asked my gran why she only sleeps for four hours a night. “Pardon?” she said. I repeated the question loudly into her good ear. Was it the sedentary lifestyle, or perhaps the frequent naps throughout the day? “Sleep is for dreams. I have no need for dreams. My head is full of enough nonsensical thoughts as it is,” she said, pouring a jar of pickled onions into the toaster.

They say that if you snooze, you lose. But that’s just convenient rhyming with a careful choice of noun. I think that if you sleep you reap. If you kip you’re hip. Those are slogans to live by.