I’m a pretty consistent sleeper. I’ve never had trouble sleeping except on long haul flights. Even during times of great emotional upset, as long as I’m tired, I’ll sleep. It may just be a short nap but when my brain needs rest, my body goes to sleep with no problem. Usually, coffee is the only thing that keeps me wide awake when I should be sleeping.
My sleep pattern has always been very regular. For my entire adult life, I’ve gone to bed early (I’ve been known to go to bed as early as 8:30 pm…and no, I wasn’t sick) and woken up early (like 4 am early!). The only exception is if I’m lost in a really good book, then I may be up all night. My body clock has always normalised itself around sleeping and waking early; if I go off schedule for some reason, my body gets right back to this pattern after a few days.
I can also sleep on just about any surface, no matter how uncomfortable. I didn’t fully realise or appreciate this until last summer when I spent 2 months travelling to 5 countries on 3 continents. I slept in 11 different beds (alone, thank you very much!) which ran the gamut from sublime to lumpy. I slept in 5 hotel rooms, 3 guest rooms, a ship’s cabin, and 2 luxury tents. I slept with background noises ranging from traffic to calls to worship to howling hyenas. I slept peacefully on every bed, in every room, cabin or tent, through every noise, sometimes surfacing just enough to appreciate where I was then sinking right back into sleep. Of course, my rest was better on the sublime beds but the lumpy ones never cost me a minute’s sleep. It was during that journey that I discovered that I’m a ‘beddie’. I never realised how much I love an excellent mattress and top of the line sheets until I slept on top-notch bedding then slept on not-so-great beds and sheets in quick succession. Still, I slept.
Since leaving Jamaica in January, my sleep pattern has totally changed. While I was in Tanzania climbing the mountain, I still went to bed early every night, usually between 8:30 and 9 pm, but I slept longer and awoke at around 6 am every day. I figured that was my body’s reaction to the physical exertion of the climb and the lower oxygen levels.
Then I came to Indonesia and my sleep pattern continued to change. For the first few days that I was here, my sleep was short and disturbed. I would fall asleep relatively early, between 9:30 and 10 pm, but I would only sleep for an hour or 2 before waking. I would be up for 2 or 3 hours before sleep would claim me again. After a few days, I realised that this break in my sleep was due to my discomfort with the lack of cleanliness in my environment (not my bedroom, I spent 5 hours on my second day here scrubbing that bad boy from ceiling to floor). Then my sleep would be disturbed by the day’s first call to worship at around 4:30 a.m. This first call to worship goes on for about an hour and I would stay awake for the entire time, unable to fall asleep with the noise of the call (we have 2 or 3 mosques close by that do their calls to worship over loud speakers so we hear them all going on at the same time). I’d finally fall asleep again at about 5:30 am and sleep lightly for another hour or hour and a half. In all, I was getting 5 to 6 hours of sleep but it was broken sleep and I was starting my day feeling as tired as I was when I went to bed.
By my second week here, the call to worship was still disturbing my sleep but not as much as it had during week 1. I would surface enough to be aware that it had started but not enough to be fully awake, then I would sink right back into sleep. Isn’t it wonderful how adaptable we are? Also by the start of my second week, I had cleaned the house thoroughly so my sleep was no longer disturbed by mental discomfort with my surroundings.
But my sleeping situation was still not ideal. Yes, my surroundings were now clean (no more mental anguish) and my brain had adjusted to the call to worship (no more jarring awake at 4:30 am). But because of The Disaster with my ceiling cave-in, I was temporarily sleeping on the worst mattress I have ever encountered in my life.
This house has 2 rooms that are assigned to short-term volunteers. Each sleeps 6 people on 3 bunk beds (top and bottom) so I took over 1 of those rooms while I awaited for my ceiling to be sorted out. Those mattresses must have been here since the dawn of time! They are so thin that when I lay down, I felt every wooden slat under my back. I remember thinking on my second night sleeping in there that for sure that bed would bruise me up. I feel so sorry for the volunteers who have to sleep on those terrible mattresses. My sleeping bag on Mount Kilimanjaro was more comfortable they are. Yet, even that horrible mattress didn’t cause me to lose sleep. Except for the incident of the cat in the night, I slept soundly every night I spent in that room. It was in that room and on that awful mattress that my new sleep pattern was established during week 2.
On my coffee-less days, I go to bed between 10 and 10:30 p.m. and sleep straight through to 6:30 or 7 am. Straight through! Eight solid hours of sleep. No lying in bed unable to fall asleep, no jarring awake at unfamiliar or intrusive sounds, and no waking before it’s light outside.
Now my ceiling has been restored (hallelujah!) and I’m back in my room, in my own acceptably comfortable space, on my acceptably comfortable mattress, with my Korean Dreamy pillow. My sleep pattern has stayed as it was in that temporary room.
Oh, what joy to allow my body to rest as much or as little as it needs to, with no interruptions! I didn’t know this in my former life. Now, I get a good 8 unbroken hours of sleep almost every night and I awake when I’m done sleeping feeling fresh and ready to take on the day.
So, so grateful!