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Rotten Circuits
November 12th, 2009
06:54 am

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How I Sleep
A quick thought on the way out of the door - longpig often has trouble sleeping (although not so much recently.) I have always had a tendency to wake up a couple of times in the night, but when I go to bed, and even more so when I go *back* to bed, I'm out like a light. I can turn the alarm off and go back to sleep literally before I've woken up enough to realise that the alarm went off.

(I've also had a tendency to sleep-walk occasionally, and to hold a conversation in my sleep which I won't remember when I wake up. At various times this has terrified me - what if I told someone a secret, like about what I got them for Christmas, while asleep? Luckily, sleep-me is discrete so far.)

So, the question in my mind, is how did I get this way? I wasn't always conditioned to sleep so well - in fact, I clearly remember going to my parents aged 10 or so, and asking them "How do I go to sleep? I've forgotten" which confused them greatly. They gave me some good tips, but I was disappointed that there wasn't a formula.

So, my method is to read books. From a really young age I used to read a *lot*. I'm talking about getting a book from the school library, and finishing it in two hours (when quiet reading time had finished, and I was supposed to be doing maths.) After that, I'd get *another* book before we left school, and finish that in the evening. We'd go to Milton Keynes library every other weekend or so, and I'd carefully select 10-20 books (they put up the limit at some point) and finish them before Thursday.

All this time, I'd *always* read when I went to bed. There's a point, though, especially when you're lying down, that your eyes defocus or close, and the book slips from your hand. To start with, my response was to shake it off, prop myself up and carry on reading. But as time went on, I trained myself that when I woke up once after reading, I'd quickly find the book, jam a bookmark in it (if my finger was still in the page) and lie down to sleep.

Later, I got into video games, movies and friends, and didn't have as much time to read. My sleeping during that time was varied, but never awful - I'd have some nights where I couldn't sleep for a long time, but usually I'd drop off. Sometimes I'd read a book, in fact.

Much later still (we're talking maybe a couple of years since I read a book cover-to-cover) at university, I started getting into reading again, and I discovered something crazy - reading made me fall asleep. I'd start reading, and drop off. I've slowly trained myself out of that, but I can still produce the state that it put me in, and fall asleep pretty quickly. If I put my mind to it, I can even sleep badly on a sunny day - I've always been a non-sleeper in daytime.

So my theory is that you can train yourself, by doing a specific thing until you are too tired not to sleep, to not only make that thing a trigger for sleep, but learn to recreate the mental conditions for sleep.

And to read a lot of books!

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From:missyfern
Date:November 12th, 2009 12:25 pm (UTC)
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My Granny has a similar theory - only go to the bedroom when you are going to bed, training your mind that this is a place for sleep - but it's never worked for me. I can read until i can't see, but i still won't necesarily sleep :(
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From:bernthewitch
Date:November 12th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
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Wow that's really interesting. I'm similar to you, I can sleep through and after just about anything. Even when I'm stressed out of my mind I can just put my head down and -

Zonk.

I'm banninated from sleeping next to Em's alarms because I tend to reach over and switch them off before I realise what I'm doing. I've also been known to talk and do some pretty crazy stuff while asleep. It's also interesting to know that, while everyone does it and we're worse off without it, there's no *real* theory as to what happens when we sleep and why we need it - mentally I mean. TOTALLY interesting to me, I can tell you.

I agree, there is definitely something about books that makes one tired and more likely to dream (R.E.M-styleee).

I pity people who can't fall asleep at the drop of a hat. My mom is one, she finds it terribly difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Mind you, she drinks coffee a lot and a lot of coke. I think people generally underestimate the effectiveness and affects of caffeine.
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From:wererogue
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:11 pm (UTC)
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I find caffeine has no difference on my ability to sleep, just my inclination to and quality of sleep (I find it easier to forget to go to bed, and if do I go to bed on time, I sleep, but fitfully.)
From:funcan
Date:November 13th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Best theory I know of for the evolutionary origins of sleep is that it is a safety mechanism - you expend less energy and take less risks by sleeping through to 'unneeded' bits of the day. Various biological mechanisms (mostly mental) then evolved to take advantage of this downtime, rather than sleep being 'needed' as such.
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From:freakwoman
Date:November 12th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
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I do maths. I spent way to long fighting to stay awake while reading my the light of my alarm clock to go to sleep reading. So I count to 100 by ones, then twos, and threes, and so on. If I get through 10s without nodding off I just get up, it is hopeless. I am a sleep snob. No blanket, no sleep. No pillow, no sleep. The slightest noise can make me super alert - I remember going to bed cursing Heather's 'loud' keyboard a room away. Once I get to sleep no talking/music/touching me or I get violently angry (sometimes saying or doing things I don't remember later, like say, hitting someone in the face, punching a hole in the wall, or swearing at the family members of significant others). All in all, I am a horrible sleeping person, especially sleeping partner. I thrash, turn, snore, hog the bed, hog the pillows, and can get abusive in my sleep if anyone dares to fight my bed dominance. Luckily my husband is a brave, long suffering gentleman.
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From:amaena
Date:November 12th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)
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Hehehe I am not the most awesome sleeping partner either... and if I happen to fall asleep before you get to bed.... I take over the whole bed and do not wake up and its hard as fuck to move me over to my side.

One time I wasn't quite in deep sleep and rumor_esq did his normal routine of shoving me the fuck over (tm) and I woke up and yelled at him for it :P

This is the joy he has to put up with :P

For me my sleeping pattern is that I need to watch tv prior to going to bed. That hour of just mind numbing helps ease me off to sleep. If I count or just lay in darkness my mind races and I work myself up to a state where i cant sleep. If I read, I cant put the book down until I am done the book and end up staying up all night long :P
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From:rumor_esq
Date:November 12th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
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I keep telling you I don't mind shoving you over - it's a tiny price to pay for not having to watch the tv for an hour before I can go to sleep. :P

As for me, I need dark and quiet, or reading and quiet, and neither is compatible with a tv in the same room. :(

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From:amaena
Date:November 12th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
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You sir, are a liar! :D

Reading and quiet DO NOT work for you, the light always bothers you ;P
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From:rumor_esq
Date:November 12th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
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I meant *me* reading.
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From:amaena
Date:November 12th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
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oh :P
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From:wererogue
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
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I'm a blanket-hog myself - but so is Hazel, so we tend to end up with at least *some* blanket each!
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From:wererogue
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
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I don't even have the patience to count sheep - it fires my brain up and I start wanting to *do* something.
(Deleted comment)
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From:wererogue
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
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I used to have a Pink Floyd album that would send me right off, and at various times I've had the PC on playing a "sleep" playlist. At some point though, I noticed that my quality of sleep was better without music or PC fans. I'd always get woken up by some song that was louder than the others, or had a crescendo I'd forgotten about.
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From:ladyiolanthe
Date:November 12th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
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Textbooks and academic papers put me to sleep really fast, which makes studying and research a struggle for me. But novels and such, I could stay up and read all night long, especially if they're really good.

I just go to bed around the same time every night, turn out the light and generally this works. Sometimes, though, my mind is racing with all sorts of things and I can't get to sleep.

I don't seem to have any sort of sleep silver bullet the way you do. ^-^
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From:wererogue
Date:November 12th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
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I find that novels and textbooks are just the same, for me!

I can train myself out of it a bit - for example, I've been reading on the bus for a few weeks, and I can usually make a journey without nodding off. If I'm tired in the evening though, I can't even make it 15 minutes.
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