SANDI TOKSVIG on insomnia
A lack of goats and sheep might be to blame for Sandi’s insomnia – or perhaps she should listen to what her body has been trying to tell her...
Idon’t sleep well. It’s never really been my thing. I used to lie awake at boarding school listening to the mass snoring around me and marvel at the skill. Now I’m older and my bedroom is less crowded I almost miss the noise, but I’m still not out for the count.
I know perfectly well that the cure for insomnia is to get some sleep, but I’m just not skilled at it. I think I would sleep better if I didn’t have to get up so often in the night. My body seems to have no idea that I’d be quite happy just lying there, out cold all through the dark hours. And it’s not just my bladder I’m battling. No matter what time I go to bed, around about 6am my brain wakes up and starts nagging me about all the things I didn’t get done the day before.
I’ve concluded that maybe I’m getting my shuteye at the wrong time. No one ever says it but maybe sleeping through the night is overrated. It’s not what people used to do. Before we had electric light and quite so much coffee, humans didn’t always feel the need to get all their rest over and done with in one great burst. They would nap when convenient. Take the goats out for a bit and then lie down in a field for 40 winks, for example. I don’t do this due mainly to a lack of goats and the fact that random field sleeping is generally frowned upon, but I like the concept.
I think what I need to become is a polyphasic sleeper. It sounds good and would be a classy thing to announce about oneself at parties, but it just means someone who sleeps more than once in a 24-hour period. Babies sleep polyphasically and who doesn’t want to sleep like one of them? History is littered with famous folk who grabbed shuteye when they could. Benjamin Franklin was one and he had plenty of energy. He managed to found the US and invent bifocal glasses in his spare time.
I am perfectly capable of sleeping soundly for 20 minutes at the wrong time. Bring me to any meeting about finance and my eyes can barely stand the strain of staying open. I think what I need to do is stop worrying about the night-time and nap more in the day. Indeed, I feel we should all embrace the siesta. It’s a marvellous word that seems to encapsulate sleeping in the sun. It derives originally from the Latin hora sexta, meaning sixth hour. You got up at dawn, managed to struggle through six hours and then went for a quick refresher snooze. Apparently, your chances
of popping off with heart trouble plummet if you adopt the siesta routine, but it never occurred to me it might also be a money-making opportunity. You could nap on a sofa or spend about £12,500 on a Nap Pod, which is a kind of chair with a hint of the dentist’s, plus the helpful addition of a sort of giant white motorcycle helmet that descends for privacy. They’re uber trendy but I think I wouldn’t sleep because I’d lie there worrying I’ve never really been stylish enough.
There is a chain of one of those gyms you join in January and pay for through to December but never remember to go to, that is taking the nap notion seriously. It has invented a Napercise class. It’s a 45-minute class where you turn up and have a sleep with strangers. Put that in your business diary and it might sound on the racy side. But let’s be clear – the class is at lunchtime and you all get your own bed in a large gym with some bloke in a tight T-shirt keeping an eye on you all.
It’s not for me. I’m not a group sleeper. I hated boarding school and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t sleep with the lingering odour of plimsolls in the air – but I get the idea. I was going to give it a try until I read that the Napercise people claim the class will engender a wonderful feeling they call Nappiness, which is such a hideous word that I know it will keep me awake.
All of which leaves me with counting sheep as an option. Except that I live in the city and it may take me some time to find any.
I couldn’t sleep with the lingering odour of plimsolls in the air