Sleepless Nights – Find Me a Solution

View from my window for five months

 

“Woh, that’s some luggage you’re carrying around under your eyes. Why don’t you just go to bed earlier and get a full eight hours.”

“I would love to sleep straight through for eight hours, unfortunately I live in a world of car alarms, shops alarms, nightclubs and neighbours blasting music through paper thin walls, drunks screaming outside my windows at 4am, delivery trucks parking outside at 5am and workmen drilling the road up at 7am. It’s just non stop continual noise.”

“Have you thought about Feng Shui?”

“Fuck!!”

 

The above conversation highlights the ‘good’ advice given to me whenever people ask why I look so tired a lot of the time. In a world full noise, people don’t listen to why you can’t get a good night’s sleep, they simply want to give you their solutions. But I can get to sleep easily, I can drop off within 15 minutes; it’s staying asleep that’s the problem. Yes you could say it was my own fault for moving into the city centre but I have lived in this street before, 20 years ago. But back then there were no nightclubs across the road, there was no theme pub directly below me. The thousands of students that now inhabit this area didn’t live here back then. I am a few minute’s walk away from at least 10 bars, numerous restaurants, theatres, cinemas, etc, and that was a selling point to this one bedroom flat, but the downside of these fun-filled facilities is sleepless nights, a daytime coffee and nicotine habit and other people thinking I am sarcastic bastard when I fall asleep during conversations.

Maybe I should have heeded my landlady’s words. I had told her that I’d take the flat and that I would be glad to get a good night’s sleep after the noise of the last place. She replied in a whisper while hastily exiting the front door,

“I don’t think it’s very quiet here. And don’t move the bed.”

Why she didn’t want me to move the bed is still a mystery but her other parting words have haunted me for two years now, and I still haven’t set my tired eyes on her since that day. Yes, she has been conspicuously absent since her swift departure.

A lot of people think it’s no big deal and in the grand scheme of things I suppose it isn’t, but have you ever been woken up multiple times during the night by fifty people screaming in your ear? That’s what it sounds like when a nightclub closes and hundreds of drunk people wander down your road at 3am, singing, screaming, fighting with each other, shouting that they must have fast food immediately or sitting for hours on the steps opposite my house as I listen to a one sided cell-phone conversation that consists of a drunk girl berating her boyfriend for being a bastard and leaving her in the nightclub but that she still loves him; and nothing emphasizes that love better than shouting it out at the top of your voice down a cell-phone at 3am. This little play does happen on a bi-nightly basis; the conversation is always the same, only the accents change.

The adrenalin rush from being woken up in this manner is so great I could easily leap out of bed and go for a quick five mile run, and don’t think I haven’t thought of it, maybe I should buy a treadmill. I’m not exaggerating either, as writers are prone to do. I have lived in central London and the noise wasn’t this bad. Everyone is London is too knackered to stay up until 5am on a weeknight; staying up all night is the preserve of the student with their boundless energy and angst ridden, drunken night-time wanderings; lucky bastards.

I’ve had plenty of advice from people, ranging from self-help ‘I can help you sleep’ books to drinking a few glasses of wine each night before bed. As I said, I don’t have a problem falling asleep it’s staying asleep so the self-help books aren’t the answer. The drinking wine every night is a no go as I would more than likely decide to finish the bottle and open another one just to be on the safe side. This does sound an enjoyable solution but it would ultimately mean that I would end up exchanging one problem for another, although I’m not sure which problem would be the worst.

Earplugs have consistently topped our poll in the sleepless nights solution survey. I have tried those silicon earplugs that mould into the shape of your ear, and for a while they did work. But one night I had a dream that I was chewing on some sort of horrible tasteless gum only to wake up and find that one of the earplugs had fallen out of my ear and straight into my mouth. Even my earplugs, a sleep aid, are keeping me awake.

Moving house would be a good solution but there’s a recession on at the moment and I can’t afford that one. Yes I blame the recession for everything, even my sleepless nights.

So this is a call out to the ingenious thinkers out there who can come up with a possible solution, avoiding the ones I have just mentioned. Believe me I will try just about anything except perhaps listening to taped conversations of sales seminars; there are some lengths I just won’t go to.

There is a bright side to this problem. I do have a beautiful undisturbed night of sleep to look forward to. The nightclub across the road is open seven nights a week but yes it does close for one night per year, and that is Christmas. Silent night shall be taken literally at Christmas and I can sleep unhindered throughout the night, and possibly the entirety of the next day as well. What month is this?

April?

Fuck!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author:

Garry Crystal is a freelance writer living in the UK. His short stories and articles have appeared in print and online including Expats Post, The Andirondack Review, Turnrow Journal, Roadside Fiction and Orato. His first book Leaving London is available on Amazon and other retailers now. View My Profile

  • Garry,

    If being unable to sleep through the night promotes such humorous creativity, it might be worth it.

    Have you tried checking out Congressional Speeches on the UK equivalent of C-Span? These things could provide “white noise” and put you in a coma with alacrity.

    Do not, I repeat do not, watch the Prime Minister’s Question period from the House of Commons. Trust me these are not soporific.

    Larry

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  • Larry I think listening to the Prime Monster’s (yes monster)Questions would drive me over the edge to the brink of suicidal thoughts 🙂

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  • Anya Pham

    I can only suggest you talk to some people familiar with sound recording/acoustics techniques. Brad’s quite knowledgeable about isolating and insulating sound. I bet information is quite easy to obtain on the interwebs these days. 🙂

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    • That is a good answer and I have looked at getting secondary glazing to put in the bedroom. However, my landlady would eventually benefit from the £800 it would cost me to stick in the glazing (these windows are pretty big, at least six feet in height)but I doubt she would consider paying anything towards the cost. Bah!!

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  • Hey Garry,

    I’m sorry you keep getting woken up, I have a hard time with that myself. The only things that wake me up in the middle of the night are kids and animals.

    I wonder if you could get some acoustic tiles that are used? You could probably even make a makeshift tile board that you could put up over the window just for the night. We have a place here that you can get recycled construction material that is in good shape, you might have something like that there if you do some searching. Here is one that I found in your area: http://www.easy-arch-salv.co.uk/

    Anyway, good luck Garry 😀

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    • Dan the man, that is actually quite a good idea, i’ve checked on the net before about these windows you can have made that just fit inside but never thought of the boards with tiles on them…will check out the site you mentioned, thanks.

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      • Garry, I hope you can rig something up on the cheap so you can get some sleep.

        Hey that rhymed! Maybe I should post it on Expats Poetry. 😀

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        • Dan I expect to see you on Expats Poetry soon with such accomplished rhyming skills, maybe an expats rap.

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  • I have huge problems falling asleep. Always have. I turn on table fan to block out ambient noise but doubt that will help your situation. Back in college I lived near a nightclub and nearly went insane with the bass beat late at night.
    My suggestion: hunt down the landlady, demand 1/2 off the rent so you can go to a hotel a few nights a week to get some decent rest. 😉

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    • The bass coming through the floor of my flat from the pub downstairs is a relatively new problem for the last couple of weeks…that’s when the headphones go on and I watch a film. Yep don’t think my landlady would go for the hotel thing, maybe if I invited her she would.

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      • Cheek!!

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  • Ah man. That just sucks! I grew up in a noisy environment, so I could sleep through tram noises, construction work. When I moved 5 years ago it was the silence that woke me up. Odd, I know. Oh! I know that you have those little yellow rubber ear plug thingies that they wear when doing heavy drill type of work. Not sure if they are yellow where you live or if you used them OR what the proper name is haha. Hope you find a solution soon!

    Don’t move the bed? Hmm interesting. Interesting indeed.

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    • Wait. I checked the box from one of the earplug thingies…they are also from silicone, so you already tried that one. If something else pops in mind, I’ll let you know 🙂

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      • Lucky you, you were trained from early to ignore all noises during napsville. Yeah, don’t move the bed had me checking for hidden cameras, don’t know why she said that, was quite weird indeed.

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        • Ahh I’d have an imagination overload. Maybe there’s a hidden door somewhere! Hehe.

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          • Yeah maybe not but I do think there is a hidden door in your head somewhere, god knows where that leads to 🙂

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            • Ah! I wonder where it leads to as well…it’s like the Rabbit’s Hole in Alice and Wonderland. Nothing is what it seems…there’s a different world behind every door. Fun times! 😀

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  • Cher Duncombe

    Garry, I know this is a bad situation, but your humor shines brilliantly in this piece despite your dilemma! There must be a nap for that online. 🙂 I think writers in general have more difficulty in sleeping. It’s hard to turn off those thought-wheels. My heart does go out to you, though. Have you called Move-on.org? They seem to have answers for so many situations. A good writer is hard to find and you deserve rest undisturbed.

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    • Thanks Cher. Now I have checked on your Move-on.org, and it’s either an adult literacy organisation (which would be fitting) or a Scottish homeless charity organisation, given the amount I pay in rent for this rabbit hutch I think they would laugh at me and ask why i’m paying this much and not getting a mortgage instead.

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      • Cher Duncombe

        You know, Garry, I’m trying really hard to be sympathetic here, but I can’t help laughing! Hmmm, “adult literacy or a Scottish homeless charity…” See? I’m laughing! Years ago I saw this moving van. On it was the logo, “TWO MEN AND A TRUCK.” I thought that was pretty cool and thought if I ever had to move I would call them. It turns out they are everywhere--except Scotland. But…they did bring up a map when I typed in Scotland with a house in “Killin” (is there really a town named that :)) and Loch Tay. Maybe they are thinking of going global. Just trying to help you out here. 😉

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        • If I have amused you then my work is done Cher. I’ve seen adverts here for ‘a man and a van’ but this is Scotland where breakfast is iron girders and one man is enough to get the job done 🙂

          Yep there is a town called Killin and I live about three minutes walk from the River Tay.

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          • Cher Duncombe

            “Scotland where breakfast is iron girders and one man is enough to get the job done” Now I am impressed! And you are three minutes from what they showed on the map? Too cool. 😉

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  • Once I finally do fall asleep, I can usually stay asleep, so I can’t help you out there. Sorry. I CAN tell you that wine is NOT the answer. I tried that, but after a couple of hours, I was wide awake! I asked my doctor, whom I recently fired, to give me something to help me fall asleep, so he gave me this tranquilizer thing to take. I took it, and I guess it sort of helped, but one day I realized that I was constantly in a bad mood. Then I found out by accident that another medication I was taking had a red flag warning about mixing it with the tranquilizer thing. I still have a hard time falling asleep, but at least I didn’t go out and buy a gun and start shooting Republicans.

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    • Thanks Judie, I will give the wine a miss going by your experiences. I’m not surprised you fired your doctor if he was checking up on mixed medication before prescribing you with the tranquilizer, serious stuff. I did use the silicon earplugs again a few nights ago, they sort of worked but when I woke up in the morning and took them out I found out I was now deaf in one ear, this lasted for a few hours. It’s a temporary problem I guess, and my only solution will be to move house I think, and soon 🙂

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  • This might seem obvious, but have you tried a frying pan to the face? That would probably do the trick, though waking up might present a challenge.

    As someone who suffers from insomnia now & then, I feel your pain. And I, too, blame the recession for everything (including my ass). But way to take a crap situation and spin it into something humorous to amuse the masses! I hope you can find relief. And you are always welcome to borrow my skillet. 😉

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    • The frying pan sounds like an ideal solution, I will make an appointment with my doctor and see if it’s a good option, I’ll say it was your idea though.

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  • I have a neighbor upstairs who uses her “personal massager” at all hours of the night, and that thing is FREAKING LOUD. I’ve been meaning to write a post about it…

    Have you tried exercising? I find that a good workout a few hours before bed really knocks me out. And drinking…heavy, heavy drinking. Both are equally healthy, right?

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    • My neighbours have been known to blast Freebird through the walls at 4am, nice if you are in the mood I suppose -well they were in the mood anyway.

      Exercise is a good one and I do sometimes do that if I can find the energy but of course the downside is that exercise gives you cancer (so i’ve read) so it’s 50/50. Drinking heavily is a winner over the short term, sometimes helps me sleep for days 🙂

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  • Gary, we swear by a white noise machine. It takes a little getting used to, but really cuts down on the noise. Here’s a link to the one we own. Maybe it’d work for you? There’s nothing more rotten than a bad night’s sleep. Okay, there are more rotten things, but it still sucks. Good luck!

    http://www.amazon.com/Marpac-SleepMate-980A-Electro-Mechanical-Conditioner/dp/B000KUHFGM

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    • Woh, I have never heard of this one before. Some great reviews by people on Amazon as well, I think this one will be getting a try. Thanks for that Janene.

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      • I hope it helps. Crossing my fingers!

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  • I think the boards is an excellent idea..that’s what I was going to suggest but since it has already been suggested I will move on… I think your landlady doesn’t want you to move the bed because she could get the chalk outline off where the body was… and she doesn’t want you to know someone died there..hehehehehhe. I sleep with ear plugs regularly.. the kind I use are the little foamy ones. they are the best that I have found. Also perhaps try some essential oils (lavender) on your feet at night helps you to sleep well. 🙂 But really those sound proofing boards will probably do the trick. 😉

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  • Hey Dani

    I was just thinking about this post as today, only an hour ago, drilling has started by a water company on my street, lovely sound on a summer’s evening. I don’t know what’s under that bed but i’m not going to look. How does lavender oil on my feet help though..I think you are telling me to try this out for a laugh.

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    • LOL No I am not telling you for laugh, but it is sort of funny. winks. I sell Essentail Oils. I have always had trouble sleeping, and now that I have lavender I sleep like a baby. 🙂 I would be happy to send you a sample. I put it on my feet every night and a dab behind each ear and on the back of my neck. Our feet have the largest pores on our bodies so the oils absorb very quickly there. It won’t stop you from being woken by noise though.. so you would still need to employ those other ideas too. I love lavender it is one of my favorite Essential Oils. 🙂

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      • I’m sure my mum uses lavender oil to get to sleep but she puts it on her pillow, I might try that out but I also plan on moving out of here in a couple of months. Never knew that about the feet but got a feeling if I did rub it on i’d break my neck on the varnished floorboards when I got up the next morning, oooh!!

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