random question of the day

Commence ridiculously long introduction:

I like to sleep with my windows open, so as soon as the temperature is warm enough for me to leave my windows open all night without dying of hypothermia, that’s what I do. Fresh air? I’m a fan. Last night, there was perfect sleeping weather: not overwhelmingly hot, not ridiculously cold (though perhaps a bit cold considering it’s July now), and rainy. It felt sort of like fall, actually. My usual custom is to get into bed and read for awhile, but I’ve been tired and dragging myself through my paces this week, so I opted for sleeping over reading. Sue me.

I settled into bed around midnight and tried listening for rain, but instead I could hear music. It sounded like someone was having a party. I don’t begrudge anybody their Wednesday night fiestas (I mean, I went to Albion College), but one thing I do know from experience is that partying neighbors have a negative effect on my ability to fall asleep. I live on the most obnoxious damn street. And leaving your windows open at night and expecting to sleep well is an iffy thing: there are no guarantees. Do you now see how much faith I have in my fellow humans? It’s often unjustified, but I keep believing.

So. Some people were partying. Fine. Also someone else was sawing something. Wood, I suppose. At midnight. Which is a perfect time to break out the saw and get some work done. It sounded like a hand saw too. I suspect the sawing was coming from my next-door neighbors. They’ve been renovating for more than a year now, so I keep expecting there to be one day when I look out of one of my windows and notice that they’ve added a whole other story to the top of their house, but so far, no. Anyway, if I hear anything that sounds like it may accompany home repairs and renovation, I just blame them. Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe the people down the street were having a sawing party. Maybe a barn raising. Maybe they’re Amish. (That would mean at least one of them is named Amos.) Whatever. There was sawing, and music. Also one guy who stood in front of my house and yelled “DAMMIT!” Just the one time, though, which is kind of odd, because usually when people stand in front of my house and yell obscenities (it happens) (though “dammit” is pretty tame), it goes on for some time, and also occasionally is punctuated with fistfights. Sometimes those fistfights are with people and sometimes they’re with the large tree growing on the front lawn. Like that one time that guy kept yelling “FUCK!” and punching the tree. I think he was also sobbing a bit. I wanted to sob, too. It was 5 a.m.

Anyway, do you remember the Big Wheel? If you do, then you know there’s this distinctive sound they make when a person rides them on a sidewalk. I can’t think of an apt comparison. It’s just that Big Wheel sound. And in the midst of the partying and the sawing (which I am not ruling out as a sawing party — because who doesn’t like to get together and cut some wood?) I could hear a child riding a Big Wheel up and down the sidewalk. I kept wondering if perhaps this kid shouldn’t be in bed. I mean, I’m no parent, but I don’t really think of late-night wood-cutting festivals as being appropriate places for children. But like I said, I’m no parent, so what do I know?

(I’m just so excited that this is the 4th of July weekend, because that means the back yard fireworks parties that last all night long should be starting soon — maybe even tonight! — and will be going on for at least the next week. There’s really nothing like listening to a bunch of drunk people armed with explosives. You’d think after awhile, they’d come up with something more original to yell than “Wooooo!” and “Gimme a beer!” but you’d be wrong.)

Obviously, my house is situated right in the middle of Awesome Town.

So I haven’t been sleeping much lately, thanks in part to my neighbors and their saws and their parties and their Big Wheels. But I have to tell you something. We talk about useless information sometimes, you know? Well this, my friends, is useless. But here’s the thing. I am not a peaceful sleeper. Apparently. I mean, I have to take the word of other people as truth because I’m always asleep when I’m sleeping, so what do I know about it? But according to these sources, I move around a lot and also sometimes kick pretty hard. Maybe I’m chasing squirrels when I dream. I don’t know. I’m willing to accept this, because I know that I move around a lot when I’m still awake. I have a hard time being still. (Also I’m not very good at cuddling. FYI, I guess.) Anyway, I have this falling asleep ritual, and if I can’t do this for any reason, I usually end up sleepless and miserable. I have to start on my left side, then move to my right side, then move back to my left side, and then I can fall asleep. It works for me. For years now (years!), I’ve wondered which side I wake up on — if that seems like a pointless thing to wonder, that’s because it’s totally pointless — but somehow I have managed to wake up every morning without registering it, and then after I get out of bed I sometimes think about it, but can’t remember. Maybe I just want to know what side of the bed is actually the wrong side. I don’t know. I have no idea why this is important to me at all, but it is. But this morning, I got it: I wake up on the left, and then turn over to look at the clock. I’ll have to remember to check again for the next few days to see if this is a trend or not, and maybe writing this will somehow remind me, and I will finally solve this mystery that has been plaguing me since I was a teenager (no, really), or perhaps I will forget all about it and keep wondering. And if I do fall asleep and wake up on the left, am I really so awful? It’s something to think about. Maybe everyone who has ever shared sleeping space with me has lied to me. IT COULD HAPPEN.

I’m kind of embarrassed that I wrote all of that. I should’ve just left it with the sawing party, right? I know.

And now the point:

I have my left-right-left ritual. So, in order to make myself feel less lame about blathering on and on about my sleep habits and my noisy neighbors, tell me — is there anything you have to have in order to fall asleep? Need the room to be just the right temperature? Need a certain pillow? (I have a friend like that.) Are you like my grandma and get annoyed when the sheets are wrinkled? Anything? Bueller?


11 thoughts on “random question of the day

  1. I like to have some air moving when I sleep, thus I usually have a fan running. This also provides some nice white noise which drowns out the sawing, cursing, and shouting in the neighborhood. I do the reading before bed thing, as well. I used to actually read in bed, but now I usually read in my office and then just go to bed.


  2. No. I can sleep with the lights on or the lights off (preferring the latter, of course). I sometimes start on my side (either); sometimes on my belly. I respond poorly to loud, throbbing music — whether in the dark, in the light, on my sides or on my belly.

    I have always liked to go to sleep while listening to talk radio or (in recent years) my French lessons but this is not a requirement.


  3. Though I really want to break the habit, I sleep on my stomach. I just can’t seem to fall asleep when I’m lying on my side.

    I used to have to listen to music, but my boyfriend-now-husband couldn’t handle it.
    Turns out I have tinnitus and it was helping to block out the ringing. I adjusted, though, but I still find it easier with noise of some sort.


  4. I used to have insane bedtime rituals when I was younger (partly OCD and partly me being a weird kid). Now I just have to make sure our stupid-ass phone is hidden under something, because the light on it blinks ALL DAMN NIGHT. Actually it probably blinks all day too, but it’s hard to ignore it when the room is dark.

    I have a lot of freaks/drunks/what have you who like to get noisy outside my windows too, but that doesn’t bother me as much.

    And now I’m dying to know what was making that Big Wheel noise. I’ll bet it wasn’t a Big Wheel at all, like that time you thought somebody was outside rattling teacups and it turned out to be a hobo going through the trash.


  5. I have to have white noise, too – either a fan or an air filter (noise machine, as my ex used to call it).

    Also, I move one of my legs back and forth; it doesn’t matter which one. I start at the knee, moving the bottom half of my leg slowly back and forth. The sleepier I get, the less I move – from the knee, I go down to the ankle, moving my foot back and forth; then down to my toes, curling them in and out. This process usually puts me to sleep. Maybe because it’s as close as I can get to a rocking sensation without totally flailing around?

    Reading about others’ sleep habits is fascinating. It’s so intimate.
    Oh, if I roll over onto my back at any point in the night, I have nightmares. Every time.


  6. Andy — Well, thank goodness I finally had a point. Wouldn’t want to keep you awake at night.

    Brett — Yeah, I usually turn on a fan for exactly that reason. But last night I didn’t. I kept thinking about getting up and turning it on, but I was lazy so instead I just listened to the sawing.

    Kevin — Is that how it works?

    Patrick — I used to listen to NPR in the mornings (I had my clock radio set to it) but I would always end up falling back to sleep and then having weird half-dreamed versions of the news.

    Mel — I have this irrational fear of sleeping on my stomach. It doesn’t really make any sense (especially because I often bury my head in my pillows), but I’m always afraid that if I fall asleep on my stomach I will somehow bury my face in a pillow and smother myself to death while I sleep. It’s dumb, I know. But totally true.

    Fraulein N — Oh, I understand about blinking lights. I also can’t sleep if I hear any ticking. And do you ever end up laying just right (or wrong, I suppose) and hearing your own heartbeat? That happens to me sometimes and it drives me insane. Anyway, I guess the Big Wheel probably wasn’t a Big Wheel, but it really really SOUNDED like one.

    anniefay — Oh, right. How could I forget?

    NatalieMaybe because it’s as close as I can get to a rocking sensation without totally flailing around?

    Could be. I, on the other hand, seem to have no problem flailing around. I was told once that I sometimes flip like a fish out of water. Awesome. I can’t sleep on my back, either. I don’t have nightmares, but I get sleep paralysis, which sounds weird, unless it’s ever happened to you, and if it’s ever happened to you, then you know it’s insanely terrifying. Haven’t had that happen to me in a long time, I think because I figured out that sleeping on my back triggers it and I avoid it at all costs.


  7. Never been distracted by my heartbeat, but sometimes with my ear against the pillow I do get caught up listening to the blood rushing in my ears. Oh, I also rub my legs together to get comfy. Like a cricket.


  8. Half-dreamed versions of the news can be fun. But, speaking from experience, I suggest you never listen to Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut as you fall asleep. Because the world will end.


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