Tuesday, 6 September 2016
Of Naps and Mint Tea
Waking up and getting up has never been easy for me. I think I suffer from whatever the opposite of insomnia is. Consomnia? Consomnia is distinct from narcolepsy - the condition where people involuntarily fall asleep. I very rarely fall asleep involuntarily. Occasionally, in the passenger seat on a long car journey, the gentle lull of the Radio Two traffic announcements might combine with the hypnotic sway of the windscreen wipers to cause an involuntary nodding off. But generally I am in full control of when I choose to sleep. I just choose to do it more often and for longer than most people.
A Reasonable Amount of Sleep
Everybody knows that you are supposed to have eight hours sleep a night - although there appears to be no evidence for this. I've read research correlating longevity with a six to eight hour sleeping pattern. Bad news for those of you who have less than six - you are 12% more likely to have an early death. However it is really bad news for those of us that like ten hours sleep a night (12 at weekends) - we are 30% more likely to have an early death. That's nearly shocking enough to make a chap consider setting an alarm clock.
The Coffee Culture
Obviously all these people going around driving and operating heavy machinery and being responsible for sizeable portions of the world's economy all on the back of five and a half hours sleep need something to keep them going between micronaps. As such, a coffee culture has developed. A lot of people think that it is acceptable to take a strong stimulant first thing in the morning and regularly throughout the day. I used to be one of them, but I had to give it up because I realised what a bad effect it had on my anxiety levels. I just can't handle my caffeine.
My Early Experiments with Caffeine
As a child, my parents wouldn't let me drink coca-cola. This lack of exposure must have worked because coke is not a drink to me. I literally don't see it as a drinkstuff. It smells unpotable. I have never tasted it (or pepsi, virgin, panda and other generic colas). I stopped telling people that I have never tried coca-cola because then they always want to make me try it. I did once have a cola bottle sweet, but I have been told they don't taste like coke anyway.
I put my inability to process caffeine properly down to this lack of exposure to coca-cola in my childhood (although I have read some research indicating genetic factors).
As a teenager, I wanted to emulate my father and drink strong black coffee. I was able to do this by adding milk and two sugars. It took me years to recognise that the two main trigger factors for my anxiety were recent caffeine intake and lack of sleep. Sometime in my mid-twenties, I gave up regular coffee drinking.
I love sleeping and I love the smell and taste of coffee. Some people are lucky and can have them both and their mental health. Not me. Time for a mint tea and a nap.