If we take some time to look at it, our relation with sleep has always something curious to tell. The first thing I remember about my sleeping habits was often described by my mother. When I was a little one, around 3 years old, I regarded my mother’s lap as the only safe place to fall asleep. The question is that, by then, I had to share my mother’s attention with my sister, and that was getting into my nerves! (Sorry to tell you this, sister!)
According to my mother’s own words, I was trying hard to find a solution for that “obstacle” between my mother and I. So, after giving it a thought, I came up with a simple solution:
“Put her in the trash and hold me instead!”
I don’t know for how long I asked my mother to do such an awful thing, but I am glad she didn’t listen to me and even found it amusing. I still can understand my disappointment today. In fact, why should she sleep on my mother’s arms and not me?
Well, I am telling this distant episode because I can see in it the start of a pattern in terms of my sleeping behavior. I hate going to sleep as normal people do, on time and in bed. Going to sleep seems to me a waste. If I could, I wouldn’t sleep at all. But I do sleep, as you are going to see.
After the sleeping on my mother’s lap rejection, I decided to get clever. Soon, I learned that I could stay awake until late and have a little more of her attention. So, from 3 to 9, before my boarding school years, my strategy changed to:
“I am not sleepy! Please, let me stay with you!”
My mother tried to fight this with an active life of music, playing and swimming, but I guess that even so she wasn’t very successful.
I am a little ashamed to tell that, during the years on the island, I only accepted going to bed because we had a maid to tell us stories and rock our bums until the sleep came. Today, I believe that when that gentle girl left us to get married (at 13!), my worst sleeping period started. The only way to sleep after that was reading, what I’ve been doing since 5 (with ups and downs).
Around 8, before boarding school, I used to follow my mother on her visits to her best friend at that time. As she lived next door, while my sister was sound asleep at home, she took me on pyjamas to her friend’s house. That lady was a rich widower, living with her 10 years old son. The four of us used to spend what we called serão (evening) seated around a camilha (round table dressed with a cloth and having a fire burning inside).
The two grown ups talked a lot and watched TV. Her son and I didn’t play at all, because it was too cold to leave the premises. He had the most incredible comics collection I have ever seen, all adventure and fantasy! That was the main attraction during those cold nights in Alentejo. We both used to fall asleep while reading, with our heads reclined on some opened book over that huge round table. Later, my mother helped her friend to put her son in his bed and they would do the same with me, carrying me across the street straight to my own bed.
Sometimes I wonder where he is, this old friend of mine. I was never interested in him, because he was too plain for my tastes! By then, I was “in love” with the character of some of the books I was reading, an incredible warrior who killed serpents and saved dames.
During boarding school, I developed a great love for my bed. First of all, the clever nuns kept us far from the dormitories during 14 hours of a very demanding daily schedule. Usually, when I found myself in bed, I used to read two lines, kiss my pillow, blink once and fall asleep right away.
Over the years, I kept a few habits and acquired a few new ones. Sleeping with a fan or air conditioner, it is more like a necessity in such a hot climate; reading forensics, it’s my own option.
At a certain stage of his life, my father used to pay for a movie ticket, fall asleep in the middle of it, wake up very refreshed around 10pm and return to work until 1 or 2am. Right now, I am under a genetic phase because the same is happening to me. Half an hour of even an interesting movie, and I am sleeping to wake up later on for some work until 3 or 4am. Complete satisfaction if it is an action movie! I guess my body is too tired and my mind too disperse for movies! Add to that the local extreme weather: or it is unexpectedly hot, making us sleepy; or it is surprisingly cold, with the same sleepy effect.
The fact is that, sooner or later, I have to go to bed, doing at 4am the usual things people do in the same circumstances: brushing my teeth, buttoning my pyjamas, reading my bedtime book…
Now it is time to confess the other side of all this “go to bed talk”: since little, I enjoy mornings in bed! I can be awake, but I fake to be asleep. From my bed, mornings look always bright and wonderful. I even qualify this love for staying in bed during the morning as my “Sleeping Beauty Syndrome”. After all, deep inside I still believe that a prince’s kiss should be the only way to wake up!