Sleeping is a universal activity in which everyone participates. It is like being dead, but without the commitment. People need sleep in order to be awake. Students will argue that they need caffeine, not sleep, in order to be awake. As a former student and seasoned veteran of the “all-nighter”, I can’t argue with that suggestion. However, six donuts and/or a box of timbits from Tim Hortons, always got me through the night. (Insert fat joke here).
There are many ways to sleep.
Some people sleep on their stomach.
Some people sleep on their side.
Some people sleep on their back.
Some people snore.
Some people don’t snore.
Some people wake up to a puddle of drool on the pillow.
Some people sleepwalk.
Some people scream.
Some people kick.
Some people have dreams.
Some people have nightmares.
Some people feel like they’re falling.
Some people wake up and their bed looks like a hurricane hit.
Some people calculate how many hours of sleep they will have, before they fall asleep.
Some people flip their pillow over to get to the cold side, allowing the warm side to recharge.
Some people like both both legs under the covers.
Some people like one leg hanging out because they are smart.
Some people need complete silence to fall asleep.
Some people, like myself, need a little bit of noise.
Ever since my age was comprised of a single digit, I have been falling asleep to the sound of a radio. It’s a sleeping pill you consume with your ears. It started when my bedtime was the first intermission of a hockey game. I would tape the rest of the game on VHS, and listen to as much as I could on the radio before falling asleep. I’m a sports fanatic, so it’s ironic that I relied on it to put me to sleep.
Listening to sports talk radio continued until University.
When I started University, listening to sports as I fell asleep, stopped. Not because it was a life changing decision, but because I was living in residence with a bad radio signal and very few, if any, sports stations could be heard. And I got tired of hearing the same opinions and storylines beaten to death. So, there’s that.
Also, I should note that I did not sleep much in University. Or at least, not at night. My motto was, “It doesn’t matter when you sleep, as long as you do sleep.” Afternoon naps were my specialty. Falling asleep after dinner was my specialty. Pulling all-nighters to start and finish assignments, due the next day, was my specialty. Attending lectures and midterms with no sleep was my specialty. Sleep took a backseat when work needed to be done. And work always got done.
So in the absence of sports talk radio, I started listening to music. It took a few weeks to settle on a station that didn’t bother me with songs I didn’t like.
And so, for the last four years, I’ve been listening to music as I fall asleep. My radio automatically turns off after an hour, so if I’m still awake when it turns off, I know I’m in for a long night.
The other night I faced this problem. My radio turned itself off. It was tired. I was not. Normally, I’d reach over and turn it back on, but this time I thought I’d experiment. I tried to fall asleep, for the first time in many years (outside of camping trips), without the presence of a radio making noise in the background.
It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.
You know how sometimes you lie in bed at night and just think…about everything. You lay there, unintentionally, scanning through your day, your life, your friends, things you like, things you hate, things you wish you did, things you regret. Everything. All you want to do is sleep, but your mind takes over. There is no escape.
Well, with the radio off, I realized that these thoughts just grow louder. You think about everything, more. Sleeping is impossible. Small noises outside become loud noises. You hear the house creak and think you’re moments away from employing Home Alone-esque tactics on an intruder.
Sure, you can say, “well maybe you’re not tired enough, if you can’t fall asleep right away.” I counter with, when it’s 4AM and you’ve written a blog post and watched three episodes of a television show, common sense and a dying laptop battery tell you to shut it down for the day.
I enjoy silence. But sometimes silence can be deafening and detrimental.
I don’t enjoy lying in bed with a million thoughts running through my mind. How am I supposed to fall asleep if I can’t stop thinking? We’re never aware of the exact moment we fall asleep, we just know that we did.
Naps are easy. When you’re a student and your options are to do work or take a nap, you take a nap every time. I didn’t need the assistance of a radio to take a nap. Knowing that I would be escaping assignments and essays, for a few hours, was enough motivation to fall asleep on cue.
I know there are other people who need the radio to sleep. I can’t really explain why this is the case. My theory is that the noise takes my mind off of everything else and forces me to focus on one thing…most of the time. It acts as a distraction. And while I’m singing along in my head to the same songs that come on at the same time, every night, I eventually fall asleep.
With silence, I’m forced to think. Sleeping and thinking do not mesh. The radio acts as an alternative – an escape. And although it does not eliminate thoughts, it distracts me from them long enough to fall asleep. They should teach this stuff in science, or health class.
So until someone steals my radio, or I am forced to change, I shall continue to sleep on my stomach, with one leg out, and silently sleep with noise.