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 Story by Emmjay

When many of us hear the phrase “the terrible twos” – especially the parents amongst us, we think of when our darling offspring reached the age of two and turned from adorable infant chips off the old blocks to abominable tiny fascists.

They know everything. They cannot for the life of them figure out why we don’t get what they are saying or intuit what they want immediately and deliver same – also immediately. They are snappy, intolerant little bastards who are lucky to make it to the pre-school years.

And they get shitty and overwhelmed by little things like a late feed, the absence of the toy de jour or more often than not a delayed sleepy bines.

But dear patron of the salle de porc, I want to introduce you to my personal terrible twos.

They are   …. (drum roll) ….. two AM and two PM.

These times of the day have become mes enfents terrible. Because why ? Because I am invariably awake at two AM, when deep REM sleep would be a huge plus, and conversely, when my ageing corpus goes into heavy sleep-craving mode at two PM this becomes not a great look at work.

After some recent years of sleep deprivation – again, not unlike those post-partum months (did he say months ? He must have meant years) the night becomes a collection of snatched moments of shuteye interspersed with periods of attempting to resolve the world’s irresolvable malaises.

There are some who say, with due justification that this is an expression of depression from the age when one realizes that the mortgage will never be paid off in one’s lifetime, global warming will see us toasted in a barren planet bereft of the ecosystems redolent in our childhoods, and self-seeking power hungry malcontents masquerading as the bastions of democracy will present themselves as the saviors of our solar system ….. giving us only a choice of one kind of evil over another.

Then there are those espousing the alternative view that sleeplessness, or perhaps more correctly sleep disorders are the manifestations of the above depressive states.

Either way, dear reader, cause, or effect, there is nothing good about the terrible twos.

I have learnt these things – none of which cause me to drop off – but in the reading, may you achieve some similar benefit.

I have learnt that:

  1. Caffeine after noon is just not on.
  2. Alcohol after fivesies is a bad idea – although it does help one to drop off, the metabolites of alcohol are excellent at waking one up some few hours later (unless you get totally smashed, in which case, sleeplessness will not be your next big problem).
  3. It’s better to have the major meal of the day at lunchtime and go for a light snack in the evening.
  4. Internet at bedtime is bad because apparently the predominant blue tinged screen images stimulate the brain – I gather that there are applications out there that purport to fix this. See for yourself if they do.
  5. Going to bed at the same time each night is good – to set up some kind of biorhythm. I personally find this nearly impossible.
  6. Vigorous exercise sometime before noon is good. My best successes have come from 25 minutes on the exercise bike with 5 or 6 bursts of 20 seconds at maximum effort – pushes my heartbeat up to the max. I like the bike because it is easier on other bits like hips, knees and ankles – than is jogging – and it takes up a lot less time than walking. I checked with my GP first to make sure that the old ticker wasn’t going to explode at 140 beats per minute – resting was 85-90. The advantage of this is that apart from burning up about 250 calories and helping – note helping but not driving weight loss – this burst training is supposed to promote the proliferation of new mitochondria in all cells. Mitochondria are the little factories that turn glucose into work. Having lots more of them – and lots more fresh ones is supposed to enliven the body. This is my illusion and don’t you dare to disabuse me of it.

There are two nice flow-on effects – first, if one exercises early in the day it is alleged that one’s metabolic rate stays up for most of the day – generating more energy for movement and activity and burning more fat, and second, physical tiredness is supposed to help with sleep. I’m not convinced about the latter.

  1. This is a bit personal. So if you find discussions about toileting distasteful, skip to the next point. In my post 55 days, I have noticed that the alleged bio mechanism that is supposed to turn off the kidneys during bye-byes – and hence limit the production of nocturnal urine – has broken down and that broken sleep is driven by the need for a quick bathroom trip, one to four times a night. I hate this. And I have no answer to why it happens or what to do about it except to limit fluid intake after say 8:00pm. And then wake up thirsty at 3:00AM. Bugger.
  2. OK, I’m glad that we’re over that one. Now, my lovely partner has alerted me to the fact that I’m a bit of a snorer – especially when I lie on my back – which of course is my most comfortable sleep position. So I toddled off to a sleep clinic for a sleep study. This is a misnomer. It’s really a sleeplessness study. They wired me up, put me to bed, asked me to relax naturally (yes, of course I always do that with electrodes and wires stuck all over my head). In the morning, the technician looked at my polygraph, sucked air through his teeth and pronounced that I had moderate sleep apnoea. Meaning that I periodically ran out of oxygen and woke myself up to have a bit of breathing.

9.  OK, so we’re onto something here. What can I do, doc ? Well, you can lose some weight. Yes. And you can have a bit of nasal surgery….. and stay off the grog yadda yadda yadda. Or you could get a CPAP (air pump)….. but I don’t think you’re that bad…. and it won’t do a lot of good for cuddle time.

10,  So I went to the nose surgeon and she said – sure I can trim things up a bit – it’s day surgery and it MIGHT help. Note “MIGHT” rather than “WILL”. So I had my trim – and it DID help for a while. More air in through the non-snoring pipes. But she added – that the best thing I could have done for my self … would have been to have a longer neck. We agreed that this was a big ask, given the prevailing genetics.

  • Darkness is good where you sleep. Get some if you can.
  • Fresh air is also good. French air is better.
  • Medium temperature is good. Try and rationalize that with the last point.
  • When I get really, really short of sleep one night, I might be prone to slip in a little sleeping pill on the next night – but be warned….. more than say three nights in a row can lead to trouble – like the bastards stop working and, well, you can guess where that one is going in the long run.
  • Learn how to meditate – to quiet the racing brain and drop a few dozen “OMs” before you try to kip down.

I’ve just about run out of sleep advice, friends of the porc chateau.

Hey. HEY !!! Arr geez, you’ve dropped off. Honestly, why do I bother ?