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Friday, December 1, 2023

Shucking Oysters: Sleepy Time, Beddy Byes

Shucking Oysters: Sleepy Time, Beddy Byes

Alex Allen

I’ve noticed lately that many of us are not getting enough sleep. It seems every second person I talk to has been up since four in the morning. Is there something going on? After a little research, I found it usually starts with the business of relieving oneself in the middle of the night. Once that happens, it’s over. Lie wake until the alarm goes off. Or worse, finally fall asleep just before the alarm goes off, which is my nocturnal pattern. And the incessant thoughts … who wouldn’t want to spend their nights contemplating consciousness and the morphogenetic fields of quantum energy?

Just type “sleep better” and you get 159,000,000 search results. 17 Proven Tips, 6 Tips, 20 Ultimate Tips, 8 Secrets, 15 Science-Backed Tips, and on and on. I know a few people who take medication to fall asleep. As we know, most pharmaceuticals come with a two-page side effects disclaimer. Sleeping medications are no different: dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal discomfort, dry mouth, headaches, and strange dreams. 

According to the Sleep Foundation, replacing your old mattress can improve the quality of your sleep by up to 55%. Given the bedding standards on our islands, this is important. We started out with a dead lumpy futon; when one of us got out of bed, the other would roll into the middle. Then there was the guy who sold us a $300 “top of the line hotel mattress” that was so springy, the first night I thought we were in the middle of an earthquake. (I think that mattress was from the honeymoon suite.) Finally we invested in a brand new firm mattress from that place with the really catchy jingle. I highly recommend the investment. After all, think how much time you actually spend in bed. According to the Sleep Matters Club, the average person spends about 26 years sleeping in their life which equates to 9,490 days or 227,760 hours. That’s one third of our entire lives spent asleep in bed. And not surprisingly, we also spend seven years trying to get to sleep — a total of 33 years or 12,045 days.

According to a report, about 30% of Canadians have insomnia. Being severely sleep-deprived can be compared to consuming excess alcohol. For example, staying awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%. The BAC increases to 1% after 24 hours of no sleep.

The Mayo Clinic among others, recommend that we stick to a sleep schedule, watch what we eat and drink before bedtime, have a restful cool and dark environment, and manage our worries. And stop using electronics at least an hour before bed; the blue lights stimulate your brains, not your sleep. 

Long ago I tried Sleepy Time tea, which is a joke. Sure you fall asleep, and then you wake up hours later — to relieve yourself. Instead of sheep, I used to count how many lonely bachelors there are. Then I switched to dogs. Start at the ferry terminal and work my way up Mount Road. I was exhausted by the time I got to Central. I tried a mantra: sleepy time, beddy byes, sleepy time, beddy byes….over and over. And then the alarm went off.


I once had a neighbour who had a rooster that would cock his doodle at 12:00 am and continue on for another three hours. After over a week of sleep deprivation I thought I was going insane. Which is not too far from the truth. A 2018 research review examined 21 articles on the correlation between time spent without any sleep and symptoms of psychosis. Based on results gathered from 760 participants, the researchers noticed that people start experiencing the first symptoms within 24 to 48 hours of not sleeping. These symptoms typically include: distorted perception; anxiety and irritability; not feeling like yourself and loss of time and sense of orientation. The review also suggested that symptoms of psychosis rapidly progress as more sleep loss is experienced. The good news, sleep deprivation psychosis is typically not permanent and can be resolved by getting some sleep. It kind of explains homelessness and mental challenges.

Bon vivant, Gayelord Hauser, recommends “mental cocktails” for deep sleep. The recipe must have five ingredients: some sound, some sight, some taste, some odour and some touch. “For sound I take the soothing theme of a lullaby, the lullaby from Erminie which I have always loved. For sight I go to the little front room of my home so far away in New York, and from the south wall I take a picture of Renoir, a picture of a peaceful man, an elder, sitting under a tree outside a rural inn-door. For taste, I use the remembrance of tree-ripe peaches as I picked and ate them in Taormina only a few short weeks ago. For odor I add a gardenia from my California garden. And for touch, I add the remembrance of the cool, refreshing waters in which I swam just two days ago— the waters of the Mediterranean.” He mixes these things that he loves and have always given him pleasure, things he associated with peace and calm and relaxation. Hauser assures us that our mental cocktail will help us sleep and have sweet dreams too. 

It’s been weeks and I am still tweaking my mental cocktail recipe. A dash of Bach or a dollop of Chris Luno Ibiza mix? A sprinkle of Pachena Bay tide flow or the Wyeth print on my studio corridor? A Fire Cracker Volcano Roll with spicy tuna, crab meat, avocado, seared spicy tuna, yam fries with yuzu mayo, unagi sauce, and Korean spicy sauce? Or Crabby Bob’s Crab Platter with crab, oysters, mussels, clams, prawns, swimming scallops, garlic butter and seafood sauce? The odour? Sage and Sour flower or maybe Indian spices heated in a frying pan. And touch? Still debating on my dog’s fur or the smooth surface of an Arbutus tree.

In the meantime, I think we have over 100 dogs on Hornby. 

Author: TIG

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