Last night I had one of my first deep sleeps in New York. The myriad noises ceased to be unique and the cacophony blended into an authentic city soundscape, allowing me to wake, feeling deeply refreshed. I was physically worn-out from a few recent late evenings, and intellectually exhausted from energy spent working with a new client, so a reset was much appreciated.
While it took a little longer than usual for a profound sleep, new environments have an impact. A recent study from scientists at Brown University suggested that the first night in a new bed is like sleeping “with one eye open”. It is difficult for the mind to let go fully and enjoy the deep recovery that a peaceful slumber provides. Instead, the mind becomes like a relaxed fist, apparently in a “state of readiness for trouble”.
During my nomadic travel years, there were occasions when I would stay in dorm rooms. I slept in a new place every two or three days, disrupting my sleep cycle with a different environment.
Even when I had a private room, my sleep would still be broken thanks to loud neighbors, calls to prayer and/or unmuffled motorcycles.
I scheduled long distance journeys for overnight, saving on accommodation. More often than not by sacrificing a bed, I’d then be sharing a compartment that was jammed so tight with the locals, that even the most patient of yogis would struggle to find a comfortable position.
One example in India stands out. A particularly bumpy train ride into Kolkata on a packed cabin made worse by a passenger opposite who seemed to suffer Tourette’s in his sleep. Night terrors prompted his Hindi outbursts, neatly timed every ten minutes, which ensured that no-one within earshot slept a wink.
Now, I’m a little too old for overnight trips or to tolerate things that go bump in the night. Midnight is a rare sight, and I agree with Ben Franklin’s ‘early-to-bed’ sentiment, making sleep the most important part of my routine.
Speaking of which, time for a nap.
How important is the role of sleep in your life?
You can find me on the channels below: