The Anti-Sleeping Pill

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In the last two months I have been from London to Malaysia and back and from London to Los Angeles and back. Each visit just long enough to readjust my time clock before having to return and do the same thing in reverse.

The result of this is that I have done a lot of waking up at 4am with a thousand thoughts, ideas, speculations and solutions already right there in front of me.

My dad was a doctor. He said he had more patients asking for sleeping tablets than for anything else. He would say “when you get tired enough you’ll sleep. Don’t worry about it.”

When you have an Irish dad and a West Indian mum you get pretty used to aphorisms! This one I think has some legs though. I reckon I’ve missed about 55 hours of sleep in the last 8 weeks... isn’t that exactly the sort of thing you bother to calculate when you’re lying awake in the middle of the night?

Well the other thing my dad said was that if you wake up at 4am don’t just lie there trying to go back to sleep. Get up, make a drink, sit and read, write a letter or annoy the dog by waking it up and giving it a good brushing. Go back to bed when you feel like it and don’t obsess about the sleep you lost.

So the dog died a couple of years ago so she’s saved. But I do find a lucidity, a clarity, a creativity, a flow – a sort of hyper-wide-awakeness – which only exists at times like these. So I harness them and use them to their fullest extent and I don’t stress on the sleep I’m missing. I have a reasonably large volume of material now gathered from late night thoughts from forty years as a travelling musician and music maker and I’m really pleased.

So for those who don’t travel much; for those who put their head on the pillow and never wake up wide awake until morning…for them I think I will use the next bout of insomnia or jet lag or whatever you want to call it, to learn chemistry which I was useless at as a kid, and invent The Anti-Sleeping Pill….the ironically named ASP. It might do a lot of people a power of good.

Now, maybe a cup of hot chocolate then go looking for that scart lead…then maybe set up the DVD in the studio again….then maybe watch that French movie I haven’t seen since I bought it 3 months ago….