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Sleep. Undisturbed, quality sleep. To some, this is a luxury and others take it for granted.

Given that my blog has been asleep and dormant for over a month, I thought I would write about the power of proper sleep every night. This was also inspired by our two week annual December staycation. We noticed how much the two cats at home sleep. This is common knowledge to even those who do not live with cats but to witness animals happily snoozing for 18 hours a day is a wake-up call itself.

Lilac cat...guilty

Lilac cat…guilty

Of course, when the cats are awake in the early hours of the morning, they have no snooze button. If they are awake, the humans must be awake.  I rarely slept beyond 05h30 on each staycation day. The cats have ways and means to wake us up. These include: walking backwards and forwards across the pillows and our heads, doing a pirouette on a human forehead, and walking back over our heads, biting arms or sitting on the chest of draws and pushing my husband’s metal cigarette lighter from the top of the set of drawers onto the wooden floor. When all else fails, a cat will vomit on demand wherever he or she may be. I once asked an animal communicator about our lilac cat’s obsession with walking over my head which painfully pulls my hair. He simply said: she does not know that your hair is connected to your head. I think he underestimated her higher grade level of IQ.

After their morning feed, the cats would disappear and I would not be able to go back to sleep. The little red cat made an untidy bed in the linen cupboard and the lilac cat took over the top floor bed. And there they stayed. And stayed. And stayed. Until it was 17h00 snack time and like clock-work, 18h00 meat dinner time. After furious eating, they would then hover for a dash, perhaps taking over two-thirds of the couch for a while with Husband and myself squashed into a corner, or trying to eat TV cables, yawning at a bird or mouse in the garden or sitting outside staring at the moon. Then it was back to sleeping. Again.

Red cat....asleep for a change

Red cat….asleep for a change

For me, the ability to sleep solidly every evening is as important as drinking 8 glasses of water a day. There is no maternal clock or bone in me at all and if I did ever have a baby (thank goodness not), I would probably not have a baby monitor. I would make sure I slept through every night, whether the baby screamed blue murder or not. Hence I would have made a terrible mother from day one. The baby would probably have screamed itself to death and I would not have noticed. Hopefully Husband would have saved the creature before I left it in a trolley by mistake at the grocery store.

I have suffered from insomnia. Real insomnia (the word first appeared in the English language, as taken from Latin, in 1758).  It was over the holidays some years back. I read 12 novels in 10 days. There was simply no sleep button in me. It was terrible and it became habitual in the sense that I lost the ability and skill to fall asleep. To this day, I still go to bed with ear plugs and an eye mask, and the room must be dark. I will not read poetry, surf the internet or read technical magazines about one hour before bed. This allows my mind to go down a gear. I am happy to read novels in bed or short stories provided they do not make me think too much. In short: the perfect novel has large font, few foreign names and requires limited brain power.

At a talk given last year by a neuroscientist, we were told that adult humans need between seven and nine hours sleep a night. The ideal is also to take a power nap after lunch. For some reason, I do not think our human resources team will take this to heart and implement it. Margaret Thatcher was well known for sleeping only 4 hours a night, having exclaimed that sleep is for wimps. That makes me a wimp.

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The biggest treat of all for me, is a nap over the weekend. It feels as though I am stealing. Stealing from Time. That is what makes an afternoon nap wicked. My weekend delight is to go to the top bedroom on a Saturday afternoon, take a decor magazine with me including a bowl of cereal or oats, find a willing cat and climb into bed, ear plugs and eye mask ready. On waking, I am the sweetest and most pliable person in all of Cape Town. I get turned into a marshmallow of goodness.

Thus Husband knows: let her nap. Do not disturb her sleep. She is much nicer when she has nodded-off to dream-land and quietly wakes-up looking at the world through rose-tinted eyes.