Before our vacation in South Carolina last week, I took measures to ensure I was fully prepared for the low country’s late-May heat and humidity. I packed a reliable SPF 30 sunscreen. I purchased a couple of bottles of spray-on insect repellant. I added several hats to the wardrobe. I even brought a USB-chargeable mini-fan, which hangs around the neck, operates at three speeds, and adjusts to just the right angle. But guess what? I didn’t need any of these items in South Carolina last week (for the weather gods were merciful). Instead, I should’ve left it all at home and just brought my bed.
Is it me getting older or can we all agree on the exceptional value of a good night’s sleep? For me, it’s a day of brain fog if I don’t get a quality 7.5 hours in la-la land the night before. When I’m up past midnight (which is never my intention), I know I’m going to pay dearly at 7am the next morning. Because, I wake up without fail (and without alarm clock) every morning at 7am. Even if I don’t hit the hay until 3am.
Stay in a hotel – any hotel – and after one night you’re reminded how the circumstances of quality sleep are frustratingly beyond your control. My wife and I booked a charming historic inn our first night last week, and what-do-you-know, our bed was just as historic. The seemingly elegant four-poster contained a lumpy mattress with a few squeaky springs, and a decided slope from my side of the bed to my wife’s. Throw in the two-hour time change and we tossed and turned like a washing machine’s most violent agitation cycle.
The second day we drove over to Charleston (half asleep), where you’d think a Courtyard-by-Marriott room would deliver the Z’s just a little bit better. No such luck. Our fifth-floor corner space included two windows with not-so-blackout curtains. Our first night’s sleep was interrupted by the hotel fire alarm, triggered because one of the elevators malfunctioned. The rest of our night’s sleeps were interrupted by the several amped-up bachelorettes and wedding parties resident in the hotel. Finally, we were adjacent to the fire exit stairs, with a bangy access door used constantly… because of the malfunctioning elevator.
Once upon a time, I was happy just to afford a bed to sleep in. But over the years I’ve developed a respect for the crucial elements of quality sleep. A comfortable mattress is worth the max you can afford to pay. A mattress where you can raise/lower the head and foot is even better. Make the room pitch black (which in our case includes a small piece of cardboard to block the fireplace pilot flame). Adjust the temp to the high sixties °F. Invest in a white noise machine. And table the electronic devices and alcohol several hours before bedtime.
If there was a plus side to my Charleston sleep, it was this. We discovered a very good ice cream place within walking distance of the hotel. Don’t know about you but ice cream does wonders for my sleep. Specifically, my dreams. Maybe it’s the sugar or maybe it’s just the late-night munchies, but I’m guaranteed all kinds of REM-sleep adventures when I’ve had ice cream. Some are haunted-house scary, others earn a movie-theater R-rating, and still others are a jumbled hodgepodge of individual memories making no sense when thrown together. Whatever the subject, my ice cream dreams are a ton of fun. They also disappear from memory as fast as the ice cream did the night before. I’m not one of those who greet you at breakfast with, “You’re not gonna believe what I dreamed about last night!” Because I’ve already forgotten.
Dreams are the topic of an entire post and alas, I’ve already used up my typical word count this time around. But let me leave you with some dreamy trivia. The average person enjoys three to five dreams a night. Like me, most people quickly forget their dreams the moment they wake up. Dreams last longer as the night progresses. The older you get, the less you dream. Finally, for all we know about the brain, we know next to nothing about dreaming.
I can’t fit a bed in my suitcase so I already know the next time I travel means quality sleep stays behind. But maybe I’ll pack a little ice cream on dry ice. If I can’t get my usual dose of Z’s, the least I can do is enjoy a forgettable sweet dream or two.
Some content sourced from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.