“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?”
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?
About the Author: Garry Crystal
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. br> His first book Leaving London is available on Amazon and other retailers now. br> View My Profile