Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sleep, baby. Sleep.

I get up early most mornings to trade. This morning, I had woken (without an alarm) at about 1am and checked developments in Asia (interest rate decision by Bank of Japan had been due), and went back to bed after about 10 minutes. The day is due to be momentous in the markets as key US data will be published, which could put the nail in the coffin of whether or not the economy is in recession. So I figured go and get some more sleep.

I was then woken about an hour later by a whimpering voice, saying "My tummy hurts." I took my little daughter to the bathroom, gave her a hug and then popped her back into bed. I tried to get back to sleep, but no joy. Let me start writing, I thought. Half an hour later, I was running up from the basement to the sound of vomiting as my little daughter was finding her way to the bathroom. A quick wash up by me and some cleaning up by her mother and back she went to bed, this time with her mummy. Daddy's awake now.

Just as I started to think about subjects to write on I came across a video on Yahoo, which must have been posted specially, in celebration of National Sleep Week (March 3-9). The video is posted below, but if it does not work here is an alternative (see link).

I don't generally have a problem sleeping. My older daughter seems to though and we were discussing this week her univeristy schedule and ways to maximize her sleep. I wont make light of the problem. The littlest daughter usually has it off pat, and one of my thoughts as I was waking was how she sleeps 11 hours straight and must really be at peace with herself. We adults take on or have given to us a bunch of problems that can ruin a night's rest.

The tips in the video are worth thinking about.

Soaking up morning sunshine? Yes. Do a lot of that. We're lucky in the Caribbean: we get a straigth 12 hours almost all year round with very little variation in times of sunrise and sunset. That helps keep our body clocks regulated. Pity those Europeans in places, especially in northern climes like Finland and Latvia, where in the winter (October-April) it gets dark at 3pm and the sun does not appear until about 9am--and it gets bitterly cold. That's the time of year when they should be snuggling under their duvets hugging a dog, a bottle or vodka, some friend or all of these or hibernating, like some of the animals. In the summer, they get days when the sun rises early and sets late or never sets...and the children never want to go to sleep. Yikes!

Early evening exercise? I tend to do mine in the early morning. It is supposed to energize your day and I figure that at the end of the day I will be good and tired. I used to play football occasionally in the evenings but always found that I was "wired" for hours afterwards. Maybe it was playing under floodlights that was the real problem or it was just the adrenalin. Funny thing was that games were regularly midafternoon, and after them I often had an easy time sleeping by late evening. Body tired for sure; but sometimes I am sure the post-match beers helped. Here in Barbados, judging by what I see around The Garrison, lots of people (and horses) take their exercise early in the morning; some of the people are back or there is a new batch between 5-7 pm. The horses are laying down in the hay. So I guess that Barbados is a pretty sleep place in the night time.

Dimming the lights? Yes. I try to do that but my wife loves to have lights burning all over the place. I try to make our carbon footprint small and keep turning them off. The BlackBerries are put into their cases, and on silent, so that they can also have a good night's rest. Not watching TV before sleep? No problem: hardly watch it anyway. No e-mail before bed? I will send myself a message about that one. Dimming the light may be taken as a signal in some relationships for some anti-sleep type activities, so I'm in two minds about this one.

The scented pillow? Very nice if it does not clash with other scents in the bedroom. But what do you do if "he" likes lavender and "she" likes something else or nothing at all (or vice versa)? "Go on. Take your stinky pillow and sleep somewhere else!" Hmm. A sleepless night thinking about where this relationship is going?

Relaxing in a warm bath? No bath to lie in here in Barbados, only showers. I will try the nightly warm shower and get the cold draft by the window to get this one working. We have a lovely deep jacuzzi in our US house and it is nice to have candles on the side and the occasional glass of champagne or wine. Or, as we did when we first arrived in Barbados and lived in a hotel, Mummy, Daddy and little child all had a deep, hot, foamy soak in the jacuzzi.

Anti-insomnia kit? Knitting? Have not done that since primary school. Crossword puzzles? Yes, I know they work, especially when you are struggling to crack those cryptic clues. Sudoku, on the other hand, or Rubik's cube, can often be guaranteed to keep you awake as you fail miserably to solve the basically simple puzzles.

Another good trick my wife uses is reading a bedtime story to our little child. Cozy up. Warm little body in the crook of your arm. Rhythmic breathing. 1-2-zzzzz. But really, nothing beats turning off the light, pulling up the covers, and closing my eyes.

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