Friday, March 12, 2004

Sleep Talk

Sleep Talk

I envy people who can do with less than eight hours of sleep. I can't. Bu for the past three weeks here in Bangkok, I've been managing with around five to six hours of sleep everyday, waking up early so that I can avoid the jam. Being able to arrive early in the office makes my day a lot more productive.

It will be good if I can maintain this habit when I'm back in KL. But it is going to be very tough. Sleep can be a pleasurable thing. Biologists are still baffled as to why living creatures spend a third of their lifetimes sleeping. That's a lot of productive time wasted.

If what occultists and theosophists say is true--that our astral bodies travel around when we are asleep--then at least our slumber time is being put to good use. I sure wish my astral body could keep a travelogue of my experiences in dreamland. Who knows, maybe there's a version of K'scope somewhere in astral-space.

There have been many studies too about sleep-learning. It is said to be especially effective for learning languages. Switch on a language cassette when you go to bed--your subconscious mind will dilligently take lecture notes while you snore yourself into slumberland.

I don't know for sure if it really works but I do have the occasional habit of listening to audiobooks during bedtime. It's often too tiring to read a book at the end of the day. So I just listen to one. Don't all children like bedtime stories to lull themselves to sleep? Hey, adults can enjoy that privilege too with the help of audiobooks.

I have a few favourite bedtime stories: George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, Karen Armstrong's Jerusalem and Vivekananda's Raja Yoga. Ocassionally I would listen to some poetry too. Poetry is especially a pleasure for it is definitely meant to be enjoyed aurally.

A lot of people have problems sleeping. Sometimes it is because they try too hard: they go to bed early (because they have to wake up early the next day and hence will have to ensure that they get a good night's rest) but end up shuffling in bed all night.

Insomnia is a terrible thing to endure. Edward Norton sums up the feeling precisely in Fight Club: "When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep... and you're never really awake."

Sometimes the solution to insomnia is to use some reverse psychology: try not to sleep. Switch on all the lights and make yourself belief that you have to finish studying for your exams tomorrow. That's when audiobooks can be put to good use, for nothing beats a dull lecture to put oneself to sleep.

And worry not, for sleep like death, is an inevitability. Sooner or later, it will overcome us. And we will not know the difference between the two.

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