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Sleeping greyhound cradling a book called Sleep Easy, and a big glowing phone.
(Design: Tina Tiller)

BooksJune 22, 2021

Emily Writes: I tried to review a book about sleep

Sleeping greyhound cradling a book called Sleep Easy, and a big glowing phone.
(Design: Tina Tiller)

After five weeks she’s still on the third page.

This post was first published on Emily Writes Weekly.

The book is called Sleep Easy. Its cover is a night sky with a moon that says “The Six-Week Sleep Programme Backed By Science”.

I love science.

Bernice Tuffery the author says she took charge of her “terrible sleep” and she says I can too. The book is big and heavy. And six weeks is a long time.

Part One has 10 chapters. You assess your sleep and then prepare.

It has taken me five weeks to get to the third page.

It is 1am and I need to sleep but instead I am watching clips of two identical twin sisters who are engaged to the same man and want to get pregnant and give birth at the same time. They speak with an Australian accent so thick that they’re barely understandable.

Part Two of the book is the six-week programme.

At 3am I am scrolling the feed of a woman who draws pictures of Princess Diana as if she was still alive, holding her grandchildren. It is very creepy. There is Harry in a snow globe. There is Meghan and Catherine holding hands.

I think there’s a serial killer in Piha.

I think I should learn how to make a flower wreath.

Do I need to know what Discord is?

Warrant’s Cherry Piewas written in 15 minutes on the back of a pizza box, which is now on display in the Hard Rock Cafe in Florida.

Part Three of the book is maintenance and follow-up.

It’s almost time to wake up. I will know this because my rescue greyhound who is old and fat and farts like it’s an Olympic sport will roll onto the floor and begin searching for my husband to get her food.

My husband will be up early. He doesn’t sleep but he doesn’t complain about it like I do. He also doesn’t try to fight time. I will sit in the lounge until midnight, insisting on claiming my freedom even when I have nothing to do. He is in bed at 9pm every night.

He sleeps on a bottom bunk. It wasn’t meant to be like this but monitoring our oldest child’s illness is a round-the-clock job.

My baby next to me isn’t really a baby anymore. He’s a human fidget spinner, all elbows and knees kicking me all night. But his face is adorable and I like waking up to it. He’s growing so fast that sometimes the only time he is still enough for me to truly see him is when he’s sleeping.

The lights go on and off all night in our house as we give insulin, check glucose levels, get one up for the toilet, get extra blankets, get the other one up for the toilet, change sheets, put on heaters, turn off heaters, let the dog out …

And I carve out little bits of time when everyone is finally asleep to read about the cult the guy from 10 Things I Hate About You was in. Or to listen to a podcast on Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl. Or to watch clip after clip of people bleaching their hair at home.

I know I need to sleep. I know none of it is important. But it’s mine.

I steal the time from all of the corners of the night and I know I will be exhausted tomorrow but I don’t know what sleeping all night is anymore.

I pick up the book. I put it down again because I remember I have to renew my passport even though I’m not going anywhere.

I pick up the book but I put it down because I remember I didn’t reply to that email.

I will read the book tomorrow. Tomorrow is the PTA meeting so surely I’ll read it the following day.

But then it’s the weekend and the kids just have to show me their stupid axolotls on Minecraft. And I have to pretend to be interested because I read that it’s not gentle or respectful to not care about your child’s interests but I don’t care.

I don’t care so much.

I want to read a real book from start to finish but I start and my brain is annoyed already. It’s calling out to me to watch the Top 10 Worst Tattoos on Ink Masters or Brad Mondo’s Worst Perms.

The algorithm has killed my ability to focus but I don’t mind. If I turn off the lights and the blue screens are black I will just lie here thinking about everything that could go wrong and will go wrong. Because there’s all this pain everywhere in the world and don’t you think it’s just so incapacitating? I don’t even really know what a fossil fuel is?

There’s so much we could do and should do but then we do it and there’s so much more. It’s an endless well. And surely we can’t do it well.

And I want to fill it up with an Instagram account of fat animals. A video of someone dying their hair to look like the Trans flag. A compilation of flower crowns on pitbulls. An 8000 word essay on why we treat possums differently in New Zealand to Australia. A video of a woman giving birth to twins in a car. I can’t believe how big they are.

When I go outside and look up at the stars it’s so quiet I can hear my breath.

Apparently eating an apple wakes you up more than drinking a coffee.

The babies snore. The dog farts. My husband walks to the kitchen, I listen to him pull out the insulin. I close my eyes and drift asleep until it’s my turn.

And then the cycle starts again. I will get better at sleeping.

I will read the book tomorrow. Or maybe the next day.

Sleep will come.

Sleep Easy: How I took charge of my terrible sleep – and you can too, by Bernice Tuffery (Allen & Unwin, $36.99) is available from Unity Books Auckland and Wellington.

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