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Recent articles or features I have been interested by have had, to appropriate the deathless pot/kettle words of Ann Widdecombe on Michael Howard, something of the night about them. Similar purple-shades-of-evening-coloured threads through a couple of media outlets I follow. This article from the Beeb here details some of the things people do if their sleep is ‘segmented’.

Most people, when they go to bed, aim to sleep until the morning – but some wake up and are active in the middle of the night.

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Hey, I wake up and are active in the middle of the night too! SYNC! It’s never quite black-eyed insomnia, mercifully, but I often suffer from disrupted sleep. There’s the usual stuff. Sometimes it comes from an elbow in the ribs… snoring, eh, what can one do? Although praise be to Breathe-Right strips, opening the nostrils to alleviate the symptoms of a deviated septum… which begins to sound like a Pharaohe Monch lyric… So, that. Sometimes it’s a call of nature. Sometimes it’s the epic Cinemascope dreams, although I quite like those. What does for me is not so much the waking up, it’s the instant snapping into life of the synapses, and subsequent extreme difficulty getting back to sleep. Be still, brain, be still.

Stuff running ’round my head that I just can’t live down
(Bruce Springsteen)

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In this regard, Bernie the ex-full-time teacher’s comments for the BBC article caused a particular resonation. It’s a busy life NQTing. A small spate of observations, masses of marking and, you know, wanting to do it right has been causing mind churn overdrive in the small hours recently. This has been characterised by a tedious cycle of coming awake around 03.00, alarm set to go off at 05.30 (I like a lengthy potter, breakfast, etc), calm brain down with a bit of meditation-style breathing, drift off, wake up again, repeat every 10 minutes till 05.25.

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I was too tired and grumpy to take the Beeb piece as anything other than a productive affront to my nocturnal fretting. My best efforts were spent in compiling sarcastic lists while my eyes flickered restlessly behind irritated lids.

10 things I do during the night:

  • Worry (Totally wired/And I’m always worried)
  • Wake up from vivid dreams, try and fail to remember them
  • Attempt a cuddle, get elbow in ribs
  • Get up and eat something
  • Have drink of water
  • Go to toilet
  • Play Super Jewel Quest game on phone
  • Check watch twenty thousand times
  • Get up and read
  • Try to write something, get distracted reading web articles, go back to bed.

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However, in a funny old world bit of night moves sync, an article here at The New Inquiry came recommended from The Browser mailshot later the same week. It too discusses the idea of ‘first sleep’, ‘second sleep’, and what sorts of things people do to while away the hours. Appearing a few days after as it did, it was sort of a useful snooze alarm. It reminded me that I have risen regularly at ungodly o’clock and settled down contentedly on the sofa for a read, some writing, a snack, playing of the guitar (softly, softly), watching the light change outside, listening to the birds, hearing that definite moment when the rest of the world wakes.

So, I stirred from the pit of non-slumber and cobbled together a short Weekday Night Fever play list of segmented sleep-related tunes… some of which have hopefully provided a soundtrack for your reading pleasure

Jellyfish – Hush
Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
Chuck Berry – The Wee Wee Hours
The Ivy League – Tossing and Turning
The La’s – I can’t sleep
The Fall – Totally wired
LCD Soundsystem – Never So Tired as When I’m Waking Up
Pixies – I’ve been tired
Bruce Springsteen – Night
Grovesnor – nitemoves

And here’s the rest:
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There we go then. Mind the bed bugs don’t bite.

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