Posted by: cordy74 | March 12, 2009


Sleep is a funny thing.  It can act like a lion one night, pouncing on you unawares and dragging you off to become dinner in its cave.  It can act like a meercat the next, timid and afraid to come out of its hole to claim you.  Sometimes it can even act like a hyena and creep over to scavenge your carcass if you lay still long enough.

Over the course of my life and, more recently, my marriage, I have developed the trick of falling asleep within 5 minutes of my head hitting the pillow.  What’s my secret?  Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  I haven’t always been able to do this.

During college I can remember many nights when sleep just would not come to me.  The stress of my classes and all of the new information running around inside my head were often overwhelming.  I would lay down and just could not stop thinking about what had happened during the day or what was to come the next.

There were also times during my college years that I would be exhausted enough to fall asleep sitting upright in my classes.  While not my most endearing trait, it did allow me to somewhat catch up on the sleep I was missing at night.  My professors loved it, too.

I once fell asleep in the front row of a class being taught by a particularly unpleasant professor.  As I sat there slumbering with my pencil in one hand hovering over a sheet of notebook paper “taking notes” I began to dream.  You may say that true dreaming doesn’t happen until you have been asleep for a while but I remember this vividly.  I was dreaming about throwing playing cards into a top had.  Kind of like Bill Murray does with Andi McDowell in Groundhog Day.  As I dreamed I was tossing one of the cards my hand jerked and I flung my pencil toward the front of the room, fairly close to the professor.  I came awake at once, sensing that something had gone terribly wrong.  With a sheepish glance around to see if anyone was staring at me I sedately got up from my seat, retrieved my pencil, sat back down and proceeded to fall asleep again.

After college came the working years.  Sleep came a little easier then but there were still times I would find myself awake hours past when I should have been in bed.  At that point you start looking at the clock and keeping a running calculation in your head as to how many hours of sleep you could squeeze in if you went to bed now.  Again, there were also times I could have gone to bed as soon as I got home from work.

I even remember one time I woke up, took a shower and was getting ready to get dressed when I glanced at my clock.  It showed the time as 2:51 am.  What?  That couldn’t be right.  I then went around the apartment checking every clock and watch I could find to confirm this.  Once confirmed I decided to lay back down and try to get a few more hours of sleep.  As I recall, I didn’t even really dry off from the shower…as an effort to eek out an extra minute or two of sleep.

Now I am married with two kids.  Most of the time I can command sleep to come upon me like the lion and claim me for the night.  How, you ask?  Well this time I will tell you.

I turn off my brain.  That’s right.  I don’t remember how I developed this skill but it works.  I lay down and start to daydream about something inconsequential.  Somewhere between 30 seconds and 5 minutes later:  BLAMMO!  ASLEEP!

It drives my wife insane that I can do this.  She is somewhat of an insomniac so the fact that I can often fall asleep so readily is of great frustration to her.  It infuriates her further when I tell her to simply turn off her brain.  If it works for me shouldn’t it work for everyone?  Well, maybe not everyone but it should at least work for all married men.

You see, I like to think that being married has caused a callous to form on the auditory cortex of my brain.  This callous helps to block out the extraneous sounds, such as talking,  that keep most people from falling asleep.  I can, and have, fallen asleep while my wife is talking to me in bed.  There have been times when she has paused for breath; during the span of that pause I have fallen asleep.  The callous is apparently not that well developed yet because if she continues to talk after the pause I will often wake back up.

Perhaps time and talking will help the callous to harden and deepen, allowing me to sleep through just about anything.  Who says a little brain damage can’t be beneficial?

By the way, I typed this post between 12:50 and 1:15 am.  If I go to sleep right now I can get around 4 solid hours of sleep before I have to get up to go to work.   That is, unless one of the kids wakes up and needs something.

How do you sleep at night?



  1. Well written, however I vote on your wife’s side since I also have a husband that falls asleep in-between breaths.
    How do you guys do that?
    And don’t tell me to turn off my brain. My husband would swear that it’s been off for years. 🙂

    • Thank you very much for the compliment. After reading some of your work I take it as high praise.

      As far as what your husband says about your brain being turned off…I think most husbands think that of their wives. Very few deign to put the thought into words, though.

  2. I can’t really comment without swearing at you profusely. Just let me say that your brain-callous extends beyond merely when you are attempting to fall asleep…or perhaps you just need to have your hearing tested, Denzil.

    • Oh, honey…you know I’m just kidding. And there’s no reason for name calling. Especially since Dad just got his hearing aids and can now hear a mouse fart.

  3. Hearing mouse farts…that is useful and special. Honestly, I can do the brain turn-off thing too. Shaun and I are pretty evenly matched in the “who can fall asleep first” competition, but I win the “who sleeps like a comatose person” every time. 🙂

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