Vote One – anyone who can help us get back to sleep.

September 3, 2013

It is rare for me to revisit the same topic twice in a matter of weeks on these pages.

And no, Black Caviar doesn’t count.

One version is usually enough to have my dear readers nodding off over their corn flakes.

This week, however, that’s what we’re trying to achieve. My recent piece on being unable to get a decent sleep, hit a weary, eye-drooping nerve.

I can’t remember such a response. Possibly because I’m sleep deprived. Anyway, a few of you let me know that I’m not alone.

For those who missed it (and I’m taking names and numbers here), I outlined waking up at 4.15am. Pretty much every day. And I hate it.

I recalled how as a young man, I could sleep at representative level. Not any more.

The next day, I had blokes at work telling me the same thing. Similar vintage. Different time slots.

One wakes at 3. He has no idea why. He’s taken to watching early, early morning television.

An old school friend tells me her eyes open at 3.30. Every day. Reckons she does some of her best accounting work in her head, as the rest of the world snoozes.

Someone else stares at the ceiling, from the early hours. Thinks of a thousand problems. Doesn’t solve any of them. Then has another go the next night.

A former colleague is wide awake at 2.30. Without fail. It’s hardly worth going to bed.

I had a 4.25 morning over the weekend. Yep, a 10 minute sleep in. Part of me wanted to celebrate. But I didn’t have the energy.

If what you’re telling me is right, we’re a society that can’t sleep. Everyone is so busy. i-phones and i-pads rule our lives. We shut them off at night. But there’s no button to power us down.

Compare our nocturnal woes, to the sleeping habits of The Teenager and Daughter Two. It’s like they’ve stolen my slumber gene.

A few weekends ago, after a hectic week of school and dance, they set about having a sleep in on a Saturday morning.

We’d watched a movie the night before, and got to bed late. They gave firm instructions not to be disturbed.

It’s fair to say I could have had Pink and her band performing in the apartment, and they wouldn’t have stirred. The zzzzzs were almost visible.

I went and picked up the paper. Did the washing. Cleared the kitchen. Sang loudly. Banged pans, as only Dads can do. Nothing.

We hit midday, and they were still snoring. If I hadn’t shaken them soon after, they’d probably still be under the doona.

I think this tells us two things. One, they need more sleep during the week. And two, it’s an age thing.

The problems of youth can’t be enough to keep them awake. That must kick in when we get older.

Together, we’ll keep looking for answers. Feel free to send them my way. In the meantime, I’ll keep blogging about the same thing. If you’re not asleep by now, you certainly will be after the next one.


Conversations with myself at 4.15am. Is anyone else out there not sleeping?

August 6, 2013

I could have snoozed for Australia.

Seriously, I had representative potential as a snorer. I could drop off anywhere, anytime.

Mum would all but use a large stick to get me to school. It annoyed her each and every morning.

Horrendous radio shift work didn’t worry me. I’d sleep all day. Or all night. Take your pick.

In later years, I’d be in dreamland before my head hit the pillow. And eyes would not open until that alarm was blaring.

So what’s happened? Why can’t I sleep a full night anymore? What’s with waking up in the dark?

I think back to some record-breaking efforts in the land of nod. I once slept for a full weekend. If it happened today, I’d be getting a medal from an FM radio station.

It was after a cruise on the Fairstar. The Funship. Let’s just say that as young men, sleep was well down on the list of priorities.

We saw the sun come up, as we sailed into Sydney Heads. Cool drinks had been consumed at a fair rate. For eleven days. Slumber was counted in minutes, not hours.

I caught the train home. Walked in the front door late Friday afternoon. Gave Mum a cheap Suva carving. And went to bed.

I pulled the covers up at around 5pm that day. And I slept the sleep of the dead. Saturday came and went. Sunday morning was lost too. This was a Guinness Book of Records snooze. Mum was ready to call an ambulance.

I emerged from my darkened room, with a two-day growth, on Sunday afternoon. Gave her a kiss, and promptly went to the pub. The boys were waiting for me. They were impressed. As only 18 year olds could be.

Forget sleeping 40 hours. These days, I struggle with 40 minutes.

A mate told me he heard someone on talkback say that all blokes will eventually wake up at 2am. It was a comment with absolutely no scientific fact behind it. But that matters little. He now wakes up at 2am. Every morning. And can’t get back to sleep.

My magic figure is 4.15am. No matter how tired I am, that’s when my eyes open. Day after day.

I don’t want to be awake. 4.15 is a time for bakers and breakfast radio hosts to be up and about. Not me. I want to be dreaming about my speech as a winning owner at the 2018 Melbourne Cup.

But I can’t get back to sleep. Not until I’ve thought about stuff. A long list that could surely be dealt with at a more respectable time.

I start going over the wonderful things I want to do with my life. And the people I want around me. Special people. I question why things take time. Or happen so quickly.

The bleary-eyed problem here is, all this could be done later. When the sun is up. Or going down. Not at 4.15.

I’ve tried lots of things to get back to sleep. Someone told me to imagine placing my over-active brain in a shoebox, so that all thought ceases. Sounds good, until you see how small my shoebox is. Something else to worry about.

Maybe it’s a temporary thing. A phase, where minimal sleep is sufficient. I might be days away from lapsing back into those marathon snooze sessions.

In the meantime, I’m catching up on my rest wherever I can. At the dinner table. Driving to work. At the checkout. Cat naps to recharge. You won’t even notice.

If you ever need to pass the time at 4.15, I’m your man. We’ll be sleep-deprived together. Just place your tiny shoebox next to mine.


The art of singing to babies. How much damage could a Kenny Rogers song do?

April 2, 2013

The thing with babies is that they’re so small.

You forget, when you haven’t held one for a while. A decade qualifies.

The girls and I paid a visit to a great mate’s bub last weekend. A 5 week old bundle of cuteness.

They were impressed with how easily he went into my arms. It’s something a Dad never forgets.

All these years on, and the little bloke slipped straight into position. Cradled into my forearm. Tiny head safely tucked away.

He looked up at me, with blue eyes that looked years older. What was he thinking?

I suggested to the assembled gathering it may have been something about the large, rough melon above him. I noted there was no serious disagreement.

At 5 weeks, there’s not a great deal to think about. Sleep, milk and poop pretty much does it.

The girls were amused to hear his mum describe an emerging wind habit. My mate tells me he is approaching Olympic class for flatulence. The bub, not him.

It’s always fun to see new parents in action. Absolute love and devotion. There is no concern about a lack of sleep at present, because it’s still fun. We’ll check back in 4 years. My money will be on a different answer.

It took me back to when the girls were tiny fart machines. I could have said that differently, but this one line will be enough to embarrass them for days.

Daughter Two was a sound sleeper as a baby. Still is. It was rare that we needed to attend to her during the night.

The Teenager was a different proposition. She would wake, constantly. There were tummy issues, and she found it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours.

I frequently volunteered to bring peace back into the household. My answer was to sing to her.

I would bundle her into my arms, and head downstairs. Gentle rocking and soothing tunes.

I would start with a bit of Eagles. Those smooth sounds were often enough to get her back to slumberland. ‘Take It Easy.’ ‘New Kid In Town.’ Then ‘Hotel California.’

Hushed tones, of course. Just enough to relax both of us. Doing laps of the rumpus room.

From there, I’d move into a little Creedence. ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’ Joe Cocker would play a role with ‘You Are So Beautiful.’ The most fitting of songs for her.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be having a whinge after exposure to such a collection. But if the mini version of The Teenager was still grumbling, I’d bring out the big guns.

Kenny Rogers has been putting people to sleep for years. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

He starred in all our late night singalongs. Meaning he was perfect to get a baby snoozing again.

First up would by ‘Coward Of The County’. Then, one of the all time greats. ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.’

You painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair. Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere? The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down. Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town.”

She would be drowsy by now. You probably are too. Perfect timing for the highlight of my midnight whispering performance. ‘The Gambler’.  And by the end of the great man’s anthem, she would be asleep.

You might laugh at such antics, but Dads are nothing if not inventive. You won’t find my methods in any reputable baby book. That might be why they worked.

My mate has cool modern technology to fix such problems, so he probably won’t need my song sheet. That’s ok.

The Teenager still won’t go to sleep. But now it’s because of friends and phones, not farts and food. Not even the great Kenny has an answer to that.