Thursday, 25 July 2013

O sleep, O gentle sleep, nature's soft nurse

I have a very strong recollection of going with my wife-to-be, now known as the Old Bat, to look at furniture.  We looked at dining room furniture (table and chairs and a matching sideboard), we looked at three-piece suites (sofa and two matching armchairs) and we looked at bedroom furniture (wardrobe, chest of drawers, dressing table and bed).  My strongest recollection is of the salesman telling us not to stint when it came to buying a bed.  We would, he explained, spend a third of our lives in bed so it would be as well to ensure our comfort.

It is generally accepted that the average person (if such a creature could ever be found) requires eight hours sleep in every 24.  Exactly a third of a day.  I am, of course, discounting children and thinking here of adults.  I have heard people say that as they get older they require less sleep.  I find that passing strange.  When I was working I had no great difficulty in going to bed at about 11.00pm while getting up again at 5.00am.  Six hours was quite enough.  Indeed, there were many times - well, quite a few - when I would stay up and awake all night when running Scout overnight hikes and things.  Now I am retired, though, eight hours sleep a night is much more the norm.

Now I come to think of it, I did doze on the train both going to work and coming home in the evening, so perhaps that six hours was really nearer to seven or seven and a half.  It was Winston Churchill who famously insisted on an afternoon nap.  Maggie Thatcher, on the other hand, was reckoned to need no more than about four hours sleep a day.

I had been mulling this over in my mind for quite some time - by which I mean on and off for a week or two - when, quite by chance, I started reading a book in which the main characters opt for a designer baby.  The consultant asks them to select a wide variety of things such as height, sporting ability - and how much sleep their child will need as an adult.  He points out just how much time is spent sleeping that could be spent far more productively.

That is much what I have been thinking.  If, instead of sleeping for eight hours, I were to sleep for only four, I could actually do something extra.  Of course, just what I could accomplish during those hours of darkness is another matter.  Obviously, gardening would not be the number one choice - although I could spend time during the daylight hours . . .

Oh, this is getting far too complicated.  I think I shall just continue to enjoy my eight hours rest every night.  If I can get eight hours.  Over the last couple of weeks or so that has been a tad difficult.  Nights have been too sticky for me to sleep long, late and deep.  It was only yesterday that I woke feeling I had really slept, and that because the temperature had dropped somewhat.  Humidity has been on the high side, as witness this current situation report from yesterday afternoon:

By the way, the title is a quote from William Shakespeare.  But he also wrote: "O sleep, thou ape of death".


This time of the year - the second half of July and during August - seems to be the time when we get the best sunsets.  That might be a false impression because the sun is so far to the north that we can see at least something of the sunset from the back garden.  This one, however, was taken from the field known as 39 Acres in July last year.

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