Isn’t this Coronovirus proving a boon for people who make podcasts?
Recently, I came across a great podcast from the BBC, called ‘Don’t Tell me the Score.” Hosted by Simon Mundie, the particular episode I listened to was an interview with a lovely-sounding chap named Shane O’Mara. Shane is a Professor of Neuroscience at Trinity College in Dublin and is obviously quite bright. Perhaps even more importantly, his Irish accent is sensational!
Right at the start of the interview, Simon (whose English accent is good without being quite at Shane’s level) asks Shane to nominate the most important thing for human wellbeing. Quick as a flash, Shane nominates sleep. But, unlike many people who bang on about the importance of sleep and sleep hygiene and make going to sleep sound like something you need a TAFE certificate for, he then offers a simple way for us all to sleep better.
He tells us to sleep like our dogs.
That’s right. Shane points out that dogs simply sleep when they feel like it and wake up when they are rested. If a dog is tired, it will lie down wherever it is and simply get some kip. Shane’s example makes particular sense to me – maybe because our dog is a greyhound and greyhounds sleep 25 hours a day. In fact, as I write this, Riley the really-slow-racer is asleep behind me. And snoring.
We humans can’t sleep exactly like a dog. For one thing, we can’t turn four or five circles around the bed before we lie down, a la Riley. But perhaps we could all be a lot more open about our need for sleep. There is no rule that sleep must come all in one hit between 10pm and 6am. We should sleep when it suits us to sleep. Maybe the important thing is to come up with a ‘sleepstyle’ that suits your lifestyle.
Yep, sometimes our lifestyle means we must be awake at particular times, even when we would rather not be. Work or housemates are the two biggest culprits – especially if the housemates are human puppies. Netflix bingeing doesn’t really help either. But maybe we could make some changes to the way we do things to make sleep easier to attain.
Personally, I like to take my time to wake up in the morning, often waiting an hour or so before I feel ready to talk or even think. Buddhists would be impressed by my ability to empty my mind of all thought – although it is not in anyway deliberate. As a result, I avoid breakfast meetings whenever I can, and certainly until after breakfast. Historically, I have made an excuse that is sort of true. “I have a breakfast meeting arranged already” is a common one – no need to tell them that the appointment is with my wife, or, if she is still sleeping, with Riley (who also typically sleeps through our breakfast date, but unlike my wife he can sleep in the kitchen).
But from now on, I think I will simply tell people that I don’t like early morning meetings because they make me wake up before I have achieved a state of ‘not being tired.’ After all, Riley does not care what people think when he sleeps all day and people seem to still like him. So, from now on, I am going to sleep like a dog.