Sleeping in India and Putting My Brain Straight [en]

[fr] Le silence nécessaire au sommeil, c'est il me semble quelque chose d'acquis. Un segment du podcast mentionné avant-hier parle de l'Inde... je ne pense pas que donner des boules quiès aux indiens améliorera vraiment leur qualité de sommeil. Et sinon, je continue avec intention à reprendre mon cerveau en main, y compris pour l'administratif et la compta!

After writing my post the day before yesterday, I listened to the end of the two-part series on sleep from Freakonomics Radio. I like Freakonomics because they go beyond the easy fluffy questions, and dig down to where things can be uncomfortably unclear. Maybe I should read the book.

Liseron coloré

Anyway. There was a segment on sleep in India (Chennai to be precise), and some of the comments stuck me as a little… ethnocentric and uncritical. Yes, India is noisy, definitely. And we westerners have trouble sleeping in the noise.  But remember that we have had to learn to sleep in the calm. The womb, where we all come from, is a noisy place. It is only with time that noise starts waking us up.

I remember hearing about the miller who will wake up when his mill stops (sound gives way to silence). More recently, I’m sure I read something about a study where they put volunteers in a terribly noisy sleep lab and kept their eyes open to flashing lights, and they fell asleep just fine. (Couldn’t dig it out, if you find it let me know.)

Many Indians, in my experience, have no trouble whatsoever sleeping in the noise. Some cannot sleep without the noise and wind of the fan whirring above their heads, even when it is cold. So, I’m not sure that providing Indians with earplugs will actually help them get better sleep.

Also, one thing that stuck me in India is that a bed is just “a place to sleep”. It seems to be less of a private, intimate place than in the West. In that respect, I’m not sure one should interpret people sleeping in weird places the same way one would here: maybe they’re just sleeping, and not “passed out from exhaustion”.

This Indian sleeping comment aside, I’ve been mulling over my efforts to get my brain back on track. One thing I didn’t mention in my last post was that I am trying to put more intention in things. If I realise I have forgotten something, I make an effort to recall it. I make an effort to be organised and not let things slip. I am making a conscious effort to get back on top of things, and it seems to be working.

Obviously it’s not enough to help me keep track of everything I’ve read, because I can’t seem to find the piece which talked about this guy who made a conscious effort to floss every day as an exercise in self-discipline. If you can’t get yourself to floss each day (less than a minute of your time!), how can you hope to stick to bigger things?

So, I’m flossing. These last two nights, I also went to bed with my phone on airplane mode and in the living-room — just me, the cats and my kindle. This morning, I didn’t touch my e-mail or social media until I had showered, had breakfast, and headed down to the office. Environment design

I’ve also decided to stop being flaky about certain things, in particular around admin and accounting. I have no love for either of them, and like to say that I am with financial stuff like some are with algebra: my brain just blacks out. Well, enough of that. It’s not rocket science. If I was capable of doing Fourier transforms at some point in my life, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to remember which papers I need to bring my accountant for my taxes and accounting each year. Hell, I’m even enjoying listening to Planet Money!

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