Up All Night

It’s 4 am, and I am still awake. Since sleep seems to be not an option — lying down just leads to coughing — I figured I may as well pass the time until morning doing something useful. (And quiet, so as not to wake the rest of the house.)

When I have trouble getting to sleep, which is rare because sleeping is what I do best in life, I have a couple of strategies I try to help me fall asleep. And then, when they all fail abysmally and I am just frantic with exhaustion and pleading PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOG JUST LET ME SLEEP, that’s when sleep usually jumps up and clobbers me over the head. (Tonight, I am so pumped full of various medications, the frantic part just never came. I was pretty mellow and just resigned myself to the fact that, meh, if I’m awake, I might as well get up.)

So, while I was lying there, shifting into wonderfully warm, comfortable positions, just SO, only to be rudely discomfited by hacking up a lung, I was listening to my iPod. I will sometimes listen to music as a means to distract myself, and also to drown out any a) excessive noise or 2) excessive quiet. I started doing this in high school, and let me tell you, an iPod is way better than a big old tape player and clunky headphones. I have the Shuffle model, which is nice and compact. Also? The batteries last much longer. Hurray for progress!

There’s something that has always appealed to me about listening to music in the dark late at night. I have always enjoyed it. I tend to actively listen more than I do in the daytime, so I catch more lyrics and more layers of music. And I daydream more, which is I suppose why I find it to be such a good distraction when trying to fall asleep. When I was younger, my favourite album to fall asleep to was Avalon by Roxy Music. I made a tape (remember those?) with that on one side, and Rio by Duran Duran on the other, and I would usually be asleep before the tape flipped to Duran Duran.

But my iPod holds so many different songs. I load it up with a variety of songs from the 4000+ that I have on my hard drive, and I am all set for working out or walking or sleeping or whatever. It’s often a fairly eclectic mix. I have 2 iPods, actually — one for working out and one for sleep. Lately, the one for sleep has been loaded with mellower stuff, not my usual retro alternative favourites, but still an interesting mix.

Tonight, as I lay staring up into the darkness, I got the gorgeous Leonard Cohen song Song of Bernadette, done by Jennifer Warnes and her flawless voice. I listened to U2’s song for Aung San Suu Kyi, Walk On, which gives me goosebumps. I got the incomparable Stan Rogers, his beautiful Northwest Passage. Quite possibly one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. And I heard Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead, quirky and lovely.

So, a perfect slumber mix, full of wonderful imagery and gorgeous voices. Not enough to help me sleep, however. Still, if you’re going to be up, listening to songs like that is a nice way to pass the time trying.

Bah. It’s 5 am. I guess it’s time to break out the big guns. Warm milk. With honey.