Hey brain? Shut up, it’s bedtime!

sleepdemon

Do you suffer from Sleep Demons? They creep inside your head just after you’ve closed your eyes. You don’t pay much attention to the first one because it’s just background noise. You expect any random thoughts in your noggin to fade away as Mr Sleep draws you into dreamland.

The first Sleep Demon might prompt you about something irrelevant, like forgetting to turn off the light downstairs or whether you’ve set your alarm clock.

Sleep Demons like company. They call to their pals: “Hey! Over here! We’ve got a live one! Pile in!”

The next one takes over, scratching your brain with its tiny claws. It’s a mere irritation at this stage, and maybe if you turn over or adjust your duvet you’ll swat them away.

For a few seconds you see the comforting gates of dreamland. All is well. The soft mists of dreamland descend and you welcome its soothing music.

But no. It’s loudspeaker time.

“Hey! Remember that idea you had this morning? You should think about that right now!”

Another Sleep Demon shuts the gates.

You shift arms, legs, pillows, duvets and everything else in your bed, hoping your efforts will inspire those gates to reappear. Your actions draw Sleep Demons like turning on light bulb in a cloud of angry moths. They pick at your synapses, forcing you to think about random junk until the dreamland gates are lost in the noise of a Sleep Demon party.

All aboard the Dreamland Express.

I like to prepare my brain for its journey to dreamland.

I turn off the PC or TV well before I get anywhere near my bed. I undress. No PJ’s for me, thanks. Too restrictive. I smooth the covers on my bed, check for spiders and relax with a book. A chapter or two is enough to start the Droopy Eyelid Timer. Lights off, book set aside, or sometimes left on the pillow, and eyes closed. Sleepy time is a wonderful thing. I look forward to the sights and sounds dreamland has to offer.

All too often Sleep Demons spot a tiny spark somewhere in my brain that makes them sit up and smile.

Storage Hunter Auctioneer – That’s me.

I’ve recently been watching Storage Hunters. I both love and loathe it. When the Sleep Demons start their inane chatter I feel like I’m the auctioneer, only my power to accept the bids is pitiful. The bidders constantly berate me with random thoughts I can’t pin down long enough to process before another nudges it out of the way.

“Dave, Dave, Dave, how about adding a chapter to your novel about….”

“Ooh Dave, over here! Remember you’ve got blah blah blah to do at work tomorrow.”

“Forget that, you need to think about paying your car tax.”

“Dave, Dave! Don’t forget to book an appointment at the dentist.”

“Dentist? Pah! Think about World War Z, it’s out on DVD soon.”

“Ooh! Ooh! Remember that idea you had a few weeks ago about changing that tiny bit of dialogue in your novel? You should do that.”

“Actually, you should get the Bluray version instead.”

“Dave! Over here matey, yeah, eyes on me! Hi! Did you lock your car door? And the passenger side window? Just saying.”

“Ooh, and what about the milk? Did you leave it on the back seat of your car again like last time?”

“Milk?! You should be thinking about that recipe you want to cook tomorrow night. The one with the chicken.”

“Oh man! I’ve got a fantastic idea for a new scene in chapter 17. Bad guy says blah blah blah and then the thing happens, you know the thing right?”

“Another thing about that chicken recipe, don’t forget to pick up some coriander on your way home tomorrow.”

“Coriander? It’s cilantro you dork!”

“He’s not American! Ignore him Dave. Anyway about that chicken…”

“Might want to think about leaving a review on Goodreads for Bounty Hunter. You liked that book right?”

And they’re just getting started. Every bidder seeking more and more of my time. Some nights I sit up, turn on my bedside light and sigh. A long drawn out one. I look at the clock with dismay. I’ve been in bed for thirty minutes and dreamland is a lost cause. I start to think I might as well stay up until dawn and do something productive.

On the other hand, I am very tired. If the Sleep Demons bugger off maybe there’s enough time left to get some energising sleep before the alarm clock starts beeping.

It’s at this point I start making deals with myself, using charts and graphs to work out how I can still spend enough time in dreamland to ensure I’m not a zombie come morning.

whenyoucantsleep

In my mind’s eye the slices grow and shrink. Not that it matters because the Sleep Demons patiently wait for me to get comfortable before resuming their party, scratching at my brain, teasing me with another round of thoughts, ideas, prompts, reminders and useless junk I don’t want to care about.

The Wide Awake at 3am Issue

Last night I battled with my bed. Every few minutes I had to disentangle myself from the duvet as it tried to strangle me like supernatural forest vines twisting around my body. At 3am I threw the duvet on the floor and got out of bed. It was too late to start doing anything with the hope of completing it, and too early to think about the morning rituals.

Sleep Demons were partying hard, and I had to turn off their music.

Sometimes it’s hard not to feel sorry for Sleep Demons. It’s not their fault if I don’t lock them up at night. They do what comes naturally – throwing unprocessed thoughts at me. I wish they didn’t have to snigger so much each time. Bastards.

I sat at my PC.

Checked my emails. Flicked through Facebook and Twitter. Opened my Word doc, scrolled down to the latest edit bit and wrote a few lines. That looked good. Felt good too. So I wrote some more, shifting up and down the page to add words here and there, and enjoying the flow. It’s funny how creativity strikes at the weirdest of times isn’t it?

My throat was as dry as a statue’s dry bits.

I have a habit of collecting half-finished glasses of coke on my desk. I selected what I hoped was the most recent addition and gulped down old flat coke. Needs must.

At 4.30am I started to lag. My eyes were tired and I was pretty sure I was writing total garbage.

This party is over!

I saved my duvet from the bedroom floor, pulled it over me and hoped the Sleep Demons had ceased scratching at my brain. I’ve found a picture that sums up my thoughts at that moment.

heybrain

Thankfully they too were keen to enter dreamland.

And so, dear blog reader, my question for you is this:

How do you deal with your Sleep Demons?

If you have any. Please say you do. I don’t want to be the only freak plagued by those pesky little critters.

Oh, and you should check out Bounty Hunter by S.J Hollis. It’s a cracking read.

 

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9 thoughts on “Hey brain? Shut up, it’s bedtime!

  1. I have a journal, when i can’t sleep i write. If it’s 3am and i can’t sleep i make sure i get out of bed, make a bathroom visit, get a drink and read a chapter or two before i try and sleep again.

  2. Oh how funny! It’s so true… i would really enjoy a cup of what that man has got above! The sleep demons or ‘useless can wait till the morning thoughts’ are always hanging around ready to pounse as soon as i put my head on the pillow. I have to have strong words with myself these days just to get a valid pass to gain entry through the big sleep turn-style.. it’s a contsant struggle so i couldn’t agree more. I’ve been meditating more regularly lately to de-junk my mind and clear out the chaos before bedtime and it realy does help. Love your writing Bro, so funny and so easy to relate to xx

    • Thanks Sis! Maybe some of that meditation stuff is what I need. I used to do a small breathing exercise before I got under the covers, visualise my thoughts and address them, making a mental to do list, or at least giving some thoughts/ideas/worries etc the time they deserved. Hmm, perhaps that something I need to revisit.

  3. Oh boy do I have sleep demons! When I was working it was a real problem but now, honestly, since my schedule is all mine to do as I please I don’t even fight anymore. Too often I let them win and don’t bother hitting the sheets until sunrise. However, I have found that meditation works pretty well, when I stick to it of course. I found a few guided meditations I like that I listen to before bed. I’ve also found an app that I use on my tablet that plays things like falling rain or ocean waves, white noise kinda stuff, which also helps my brain focus on something else so it shuts the fuck up. But, more often than not, I just spend the night writing away on some poem, story or other. *sigh*

    • Ah yes, I remember the long nights of my youth, all night writing sessions where I could still face the rising sun without feeling my brain had been dragged around a mountain of glass and razor wire. It’s a bit like alcohol in that respect, these days one whiff of a glass of wine or a silky smooth Bailey’s and I’ve got a headache an hour later.

      I wonder…glass of Bailey’s, then meditate it away before I head for dreamland. Or maybe just meditate and lock the sleep demons in their crate.

  4. Pingback: Editing with Paddington Bear | Dave Farmer

  5. I’ve banned myself from thinking after lights-out time. Other rules are no caffeine (but for anyone who must have some caffeine, only drink it in the morning); avoiding too much alcohol in the evening; wearing socks in bed, as I can’t bear having cold feet; reading for at least half an hour before going to bed, rather than in bed, and refusing to argue with anyone in the evening, if at all. The only thing that keeps me awake is my husband’s snoring.

    • Socks in bed is a tricky one for me. Mostly I can’t stand wearing them, I get the feeling my feet might suffocate during the night. Though on occasion where I’m too tired to pull them off, I wake up the next morning with a lovely toasty sensation, like my feet are enveloped in an army of cuddly miniature sheep.

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