May 20, 2014

The Lament of a Light Sleeper !

I am sleep deprived and bleary eyed as I write this. My brain as soggy as soaked bread. I would do anything, anything for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Eight hours of restful sleep, we are repeatedly told, is optimal for health. Well I honestly don’t remember when I last got those 8 hrs. I am perpetually moving round like a zombie, in a state of a permanent Jet Lag.

You see, I am what is called a “Light Sleeper”. This means that even a pin falling in a room miles away will wake me up. That for me the sound of water being poured in a glass four rooms away will be like the roar of the Niagara and will jolt me out of sweet slumber. That for me the tick tock of a clock or the gentle whirring of a fan are unbearable noises.

I so envy people who fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. I need to set-up a proper environment to fall asleep . First, I will push and pummel my pillow into a comfortable shape and then toss and turn till I find the perfect position to lie in. Then I need silence. ‘Silence’ you see is the most important thing here. And silence is something I never get. It seems my whole neighborhood has an uncanny way of knowing when I am about to sleep. 

As soon as I hit my head on the pillow, they swing into action with the precision of an army band – a badly tuned army band. The people living upstairs will chose that precise time to move about their furniture and close their doors with a bang. There will a pressure cooker whistling merrily somewhere a few houses away. Not to be outdone, Chopra Uncle from next door will chose that opportune time to hawk and spit and generally gargle away to glory in his bathroom. Every sound of his ablutions crystal clear to me.

Even if I do manage to fall asleep in this cacophony of sounds, most of the nights I am jostled rudely out of my slumber by late-nighters who will bang their car doors loudly, climb the stairs noisily or generally hold loud conversations right under my window about how difficult it is to find parking at night.
And of course once you are up, you can’t go back to sleep. You will count innumerable sheep in all the languages you know, you will pick up the most boring book on your book shelf hoping it will lull you gently back into la la land; but no, sleep will continue to elude you.

Light sleepers like me meet their own private hell when they are travelling.

Invariably, always without fail on long flights I will end up next to a fellow who snores. I will sit there after the lights have been dimmed, wide awake in my cramped airline seat, while next to me the guy will continue his near perfect impersonation of a chainsaw.

I have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in flights and trains trying to amuse myself with the different kinds of snores that I can hear. There is of course the chainsaw impersonation, then there is the continuous gurgling noise deep in the throat that will suddenly morph into something like a huge nasal snort before subsiding down to gurgles again. Then there are some people who lie there with their mouths half open - like fish gasping for water- who will make a continuous gentle soothing sound, which will almost lull you to sleep and suddenly without warning it will morph into an ugly sound like a generator starting. These are the ones that give you a nervous breakdown.

Sometimes it's people whom you least expect to snore that surprise you the most. There was a very delicate, very small Japanese lady next to me on a flight once. She didn’t seem capable of producing even a peep, leave alone snores. But once she fell asleep and started snoring it was like hearing Mt. Fuji rumble just before it erupts into an volcano.

And there really should be a special place in hell reserved for people who will snooze their alarms every 10 minutes but will not get up.

I have shaken out of deep slumber innumerable times in hotels by alarms that are not my own. I sit there, wide wake, my heart thudding violently as the alarm goes on and on. Once the alarm is switched off I try to get back to sleep just to be woken up again by the same alarm every ten minutes. Eventually the damn alarm will rouse the whole hotel and half the city but not the man who snoozes it is supposed to wake.

The one thing, I would kill for, gladly sell my soul for is a sound proof room. And till I get that, I continue to stumble through life in a state of permanent sleep deprivation!

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