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A most unenviable condition

Cape Argus logo Cape Argus 2018-12-05 Alex Tabisher
a close up of food: HELP OR HINDRANCE?: "I have the most terrible difficulty dropping off to sleep at night. The condition has developed from a dependency on tablets...". Picture: Wikipedia © Provided by Independent Media HELP OR HINDRANCE?: "I have the most terrible difficulty dropping off to sleep at night. The condition has developed from a dependency on tablets...". Picture: Wikipedia

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

I have the most terrible difficulty dropping off to sleep at night. The condition has developed from a dependency on tablets whose names contained prefixes like “dormi” and endings like “-noct” and “-cum”.

This dependency left me with the vicious legacy of the “half-life” contained in each of these nostra. It meant that I was still sufficiently sedated to sleep spontaneously at any time during the following day.

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And I romanticised this terrible condition by joking that I was only catching a “zizz”.

Classic denial.

In one sense, the wakeful nights worked in my favour while I pursued further studies. I could literally burn the midnight oil.

My results were always good, but they came at a bitter price: sleeplessness. It also created the need for tonics and pick-me-ups during the daylight hours.

Often these energy boosts took the form of booze.

Lately, when I seek help for this unenviable condition, I am given advice that is so glaringly obvious that I could spit blood.

They tell me not to sleep during the day and to make my body tired towards bedtime by doing physically taxing things.

And this to a person whose only exercise is jumping to conclusions.

The advice to stay awake during the day was doubly ironic because of the decades of ingesting sleeping tablets. The withdrawal from chemical dependence is as hard as it is hazardous.

The chilling term “cold turkey” comes to mind. People have been known to die from a sudden, unchoreographed cessation of chemical or other dependence. It requires medical supervision.

Advice for the condition includes drinking scented teas, like chamomile. Or lukewarm milk.

Also, they say: if you cannot sleep, do not count sheep. Talk to the shepherd.

What it boils down to is not a pathology but our own flawed process of socialisation. God created the world in diurnal mode. Sunlight hours were for gainful employment.

The night is designed for the recovery of spent strength through sleep. The setting sun is the signal for going to sleep.

But we messed with that by lengthening the hours of production by introducing artificial sunlight. The improved night-lighting gave us improved productivity. “Overtime” and “double time” meant increased earnings even as it ignored the wrench to the psyche. Such is the impetus of the profit motive and material gain.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see how mankind would evolve agencies to both induce and evade natural sleep. This in itself spawned another lucrative industry. Our teachers today epitomise that dichotomy.

They need to take sleeping and calming tablets to heal the ravages of the day. Come the morning, they reach for tonics and pick-me-ups and help-me-copes.

No wonder when we die the ultimate solace is for us to Requiescat in pace: Rest in peace.

* Literally Yours is a weekly column from Cape Argus reader Alex Tabisher. He can be contacted on email by actabisher@gmail.com

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

Related: A sleep expert gives the best tips for falling asleep quicker (Provided by Business Insider)

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