Tag Archives: sleep

Catching some shut eye

Sleep means different things to different people. There is a lot more to the science of sleep than the oft-discussed night owl vs. morning bird.

When there is an infant in the house, the baby typically cries each time you put him or her down, so you learn to  maintain a rhythm that keeps baby happy, and that also enables you to sleep walk. And the next day, at work, you unconsciouly tap out that rhythm on the carpet.

But before the kids came along there existed a time when you could stay out late, watch movies, and still have a never-ending chat with your friends, and continue to feel rejuvenated; a time when you went straight to work the next day, looking fresh and ready to take on the day, without having slept a wink.

Even before this phase was the time in college, when the concept of sleep was alien. When you studied hard, and had lots of fun.

So, coming back to the kids. Your infant suddenly grew into a busy toddler, whom you chased under tables, and up and down staircases, whom you pushed on swings and caught at the bottom of slides. And then, when your toddler was all tucked into bed, and you looked forward to catching a few winks, the said toddler came crying with pain in his calf muscles or some such.

Then, suddenly, your teenagers and tweenagers had become independent creatures, and disappeared into their coccoons. And you said,  “I can finally catch some shut eye.”

                       Picture courtesy – Clipart Panda
But now, sleep plays truant. You sleep well some days and stay awake on some days. You ponder about life and wonder about what lies ahead. You look at the stars and marvel at the universe, and then worry that the alarm will ring in a few hours.

 And then again, there are those afternoons when you get two hours to yourself (the luxury…), and you make plans to read a book or watch a movie, and as you recline on the couch to enjoy the book or the movie, your eyes close involuntarily. 

Sleep….

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Afternoon couch nappers

It is late afternoon. And in the tropics it means that the sun is blazing away mercilessly. It is that time of the day when the trees hunch their shoulders waiting for a breeze to lift their spirits, when the plants curl their leaves to keep cool and the normally vocal birds drop a few decibels. One can only hear a caw here or a muted chirp there.

I am sitting on the couch trying to catch up on my reading. And slowly the intruder walks up my hands, my shoulders and my neck and gently presses down on my eyes. Oh! The pleasure of catching a few winks.

My body relaxes, as my eyes close involuntarily. The words blur in front of my eyes, dancing into each other. My head starts lolling to one side, my body starts keening to the right.The brain is alerted suddenly, as it knows that I am going to topple over. As if by magic, my body straightens itself, and again the eyes droop and the lolling starts.

Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

The book starts its journey from my lap to the floor. The characters from the book inhabit my dreams, as I fall deeper into layers of sleep. 

The cuckoo from the cuckoo clock announces the hour. I am startled awake.  I realize that it has only been 10 minutes since I fell asleep. I stretch and smile. 

I feel so refreshed and good. 

“Must be genetic”, I say to myself. My family has many ‘afternoon couch nappers’.

I remember happy and lazy Sunday weekends when aunts, uncles and my dad would nap, while sitting on the couch and reading a book or the newspaper. My cousins and I would giggle as we saw them nod off, or watch their books slide down, or hear gentle snores escaping them.

The moment you shook them awake and asked them to lie down, they would become alert and lose all interest in napping..they could only steal a few winks while seated. I miss those fun days.

At least the ‘afternoon nap’ genes have been passed down.

The questions kids ask…

We wake up on most days without an inkling of what our dreams were. However, once in a while, we remember with the greatest clarity the vivid kaleidoscope of our dreams; dreams that switch scenes rather abruptly, the appearance of characters from our lives, who have been hiding in the grey folds of our memories, and other absurdities that can never, ever happen in waking life.

I woke up this morning with amazing clarity about the dream I had last night. I was very excited by the funny things that had happened and the swift changes of scene that had made the experience so exciting. I narrated it to my husband and children at the breakfast table. It went something like this –

“I come back home from a holiday to find that my house has a new wing added. I open the door to the new wing to find that the entire furniture from my grandmom’s house has been arranged here.  I look up to find one of my uncles walking up and down the hall. My mom suddenly announces that the banquet is ready. Soon, people are scurrying about, and there is a feast.

And suddenly, I am in bed, in a deep sleep. Both of you (my children) are sitting on either side. A lady with short hair is talking to both of you and you are responding…”

At this point in my narration my son interrupts, “Mom, I have a question?”

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Credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

I ask, “What?”

He says, “If you were asleep in your dream too, how did you know what was happening?”

All of us laugh. If one is asleep in one’s own dream, how can one remember what happened!

Hmmm…the questions kids ask. Not that I had any answers.

Power nap on a Sunday afternoon = Bliss

We all lead such busy lives, running from one appointment to the other, trying to tick-off items on that never-ending Things-to-do List, then kids and chores, and cooking and what not.

Sometimes, by Monday afternoon, I start wishing for the weekend, though if you ask me, those are crazier!

So, now and then, it is nice to have those few minutes of shut eye that happen involuntarily.

There are some great power nappers in my family, who can fall asleep while sitting on the couch. It is fun to watch them drop off as they read the newspaper or a book, their heads lolling slightly, as their mind takes them into nodland.

It’s also fun to watch people on the MRT, late in the evening, trying their best to keep awake and not fall on their neighbour’s shoulder.

My favourite such moments are on a Sunday afternoon, after a heavy lunch when I tuck into a lovely book. Five pages into it and my eyes seek closure, from the craziness of the week; they feel my need to forget the worries and stresses, and transport me to another world for 20 minutes.

It’s only when you wake up that you realize that you’ve been away, recharging your batteries.

I did that this afternoon, and what bliss it was, with a very funny dream thrown into the package.

‘A dream where I was the driver of a nursery school bus. My duties also involved standing at the door of the bus with a big steel tray. Each time a child had to board the bus, I had to ask the child to board the steel tray and only then put them on the bus.’

Totally crazy dream…but what a refreshing nap. I am ready to take on the week but before that…

“I need my coffee.”

Have a great week!

Late night flight

Our flight is at 11.50 p.m. We leave home at 9 p.m. to avoid the heavy Friday evening traffic.

After check-in and immigration we walk around in the duty free area, looking at beautiful displays of cosmetics. There are chocolates, perfumes, books, bags and all kinds of stuff. Branded, every single item, branded.

Beautiful models stare at us from the posters, looking at our red and bleary eyes.

I look around me, am I the only sleepy one here? Lots of people seem to be walking energetically, laughing and talking.

We plod towards the departure gate for security checking and finally to board.

The flight is cold, I snuggle into the blanket. People are watching movies all around me, there is the ‘standard baby who cries’ through the night, probably with ear block.

Can’t rest my hand. Both my kids are sprawled on my lap, deep in nod land, as I struggle to move. Periodically I set them upright. I let my guard down and the two are back, jostling for the most comfortable position.

I nod off unbeknowst to myself. I wake up and realize that a mere 20 minutes have passed.

I am green with envy as I see the man across the aisle, fast asleep;  the woman in front of me is in splits as she watches a romcom, another man is working away on his laptop.

The stewardesses walk up and down the aisle, attending to passenger requests. I perk up a little bit when I look at the duty free magazine, lost in my mental shopping for a few minutes.

I need to stand up and stretch. No such luck.

Finally after what seems like eternity, we land…but it’s not over. Disembark and walk, hundreds of weary people plodding-on at this unearthly hour. Immigration done, and now at the luggage carousel.

The bags look tired too, as they slowly snake down. Brown bags, black suitcases, purple, whites, greens…no sign of our bags.

Finally, they arrive. We load them on the trolley and head to the taxi stand; another long wait before we reach our destination.

Bliss, the ability to stretch and bend. The joy of having a hot cup of aromatic coffee.

Back on land…till the next flight.

Couch Potato for the day

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Today is Sunday. No deadlines to chase, no lists to tick-off (I mean, there are, but they don’t seem important).  The day has started quite well.  My husband & children have made plans to visit the zoo, yet again.  They ask me if I want to join them, but I decline.

“The howler monkey, at the entrance, will probably call out to me in recognition, ” I say. My preteen rolls her eyes at the poor joke, while my son giggles at this ‘funny joke’.

Actually a selfish thought  takes root in my brain. Imagine, six hours of solitude.

The family troops out at 10 am.  I shut the door and amble back to the couch.  I deliberate on what I should do to maximize these six hours – a visit to the spa? haircut? pedicure? No, screams my brain, no.  My inner voice announces the final decision, stay put on the couch the whole day and watch television, eat, and catch some shut eye.

With the decision made, I make arrangements to transform into a couch potato for the day.  I bring some junk food, a water bottle, and a freshly popped packet of popcorn to the coffee table.  I throw in some magazines to the ‘couch-potato package’. I make two steaming mugs of filter coffee and pour them into a thermos.  This too gets added to the coffee table.

I am ready now.  I plump up the cushions and settle in comfortably.  All the remotes, my phone and the tablet are with me.  I switch on my tablet and browse through some videos.  I see one of my favourite actors from an eighties movie.  My brain immediately hyperlinks to a soap that used to air when I was still in college.  I search for it, and the Internet doesn’t disappoint.  I start watching, one episode after another.

I cry at the sentimental bits without inhibition and without my husband’s voice telling me, “It is only a movie, all those people are going to finish their shoot and go home to a nice dinner. Don’t waste your tears.”

I laugh and giggle at the funny bits, stuffing popcorn and wafers into my mouth, without missing a beat.  I pour myself a hot cup of coffee and sip it as the story progresses.  I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into the couch.  It is mid-day now.  The sun is streaming into the living room and I am loath to get up from the couch.

The series finally gets over, along with the huge tub of popcorn.  Today, there is no place for guilt in my life.  I switch off the TV and stretch out on the couch.  I love the silence in the house.  I hear some thud-thudding from my neighbour above and two mynas calling out from the tree nearby.  Otherwise, pure bliss.

I put my mobile on silent mode, as I feel sleep overtaking me.  I fall and fall into layers of sleep, deeper and deeper.  I am in dream land, and there is a kaleidoscopic panorama unfolding in these layers of sleep. I don’t know what I dream about, but the visuals keep changing.

I wake up and look at the clock.  I have been in oblivion for nearly three hours.  The room has become less bright now as the sun has moved across to my neighbours’ block.  I am still stuck to the couch, no plans to move anytime soon.  I stretch to pour the second cup of coffee and enjoy every sip.  I browse through the magazines and read the news on my tablet.

I am done with all that I’d planned.  What next?  I smile in happiness at the wonderful day it’s been.  I stretch like a cat and feel the tensions of the week dissipating.

I, me, myself…superlative!