Sleep mode

Sleep mode – the pc stays on but uses low power. Apps stay open so when the pc wakes up, you’re instantly back to where you left off.

When I was younger, I could sleep anywhere. I’ve spent nights on floors, coaches, trains and under stars on the side of mountains. Once, memorably, I slept in an abandoned house in a tiny French village, with nothing but a febrile breeze and a band of crickets for company. In those days sleep was an irritating if necessary interruption to all the things I wanted to do, to experience. From living in student digs in a castle to racing friends up the down escalator of the Pompidou Centre to hitching across Europe in the summer (sorry Mum).

My friend and I shared the top bedroom in the front left-hand tower. We used to do Hamlet impressions on the roof.

How times have changed. Now it has to be in my bed with the linen sheets and the 100% cotton jacquard duvet cover. And most important of all, the thin cushion (for lying on my back) and the thicker cushion (for lying on my side). I remember once lumbering into my mother-in-law’s room years ago and helpfully flinging the pillows onto the bed as she made it. To my surprise she wrung her hands. “You haven’t muddled up the pillows, have you?” she demanded. I was dumbfounded. What did it matter if I had? (Those were the “If-we- have- two- pillow- cases- that- match -we’re – doing- well days) Now, I  understand.

Sleep, these days, is precious, particularly at weekends. On school nights, it’s different – though much better than it used to be – lying coiled like a spring, dreaming of recalcitrant children and OFSTED inspectors with daleks for heads. I once dreamed that my entire class had turned into adult versions of themselves and were sitting with their knees scrunched under the tables, with car-keys and mobiles where their pencil cases ought to be. To say nothing of the odd I-forgot-to-get-dressed dream and the Whoops-no-teeth dream. I can honestly say I love my job. But do I ever have these dreams on non-work days? Never.


Sometimes on school nights, when my brain is addled and active and rolling like a sackful of cats, I pretend I don’t have to get up the next day. It’s magic. I can feel myself melting and spreading like heated honey, stretching across the bed, toes tucked into cool, linen on skin, sleeping like a starfish. Sadly my husband doesn’t really appreciate the starfish thing. But then he doesn’t spend his day hunched over children’s work or wedged into chairs the size of fruit crates.

My favourite way to wake up is, slowly on summer Saturdays. The window’s open and, as I surface, I’m reeled into shore by breeze or birdsong or the lemon lift of curtains. The bed is a criss-cross of light and shade and I stretch, luxurious, into the warm bits for extra snooze. Because I can.

Sleep is really the most curious thing. I can’t think about it too much otherwise I can’t do it, but it’s such an interesting concept, this Let’s- press- the- Off- button- and -shut -ourselves- down- thing, and we do it every night mostly without thinking much. The more active among us may resent it – “Sleep, those little slices of death – how I loathe them!” wrote Edgar Allan Poe. But I prefer Arthur Schopenhauer’s: “Sleep is the interest we have to pay on the capital which is called in at death; and the higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the further the date of redemption is postponed. “

A happy little note to end on. God knew what he was doing when he invented Sleep mode. A breath, a pause, a taste of that other life – where no amount of rushing around will bring you what you yearn for. But there is rest, strength, hope for the new day.

A Celtic prayer and gift from my dear friend Norita Erickson whose early death left so many of us in shock. But she lives still, I know she does…

Human Sleep mode – the human being is still alive but uses low power. Options stay open so when the human wakes up, you’re not back to where you left off. You’re given another chance.




11 thoughts on “Sleep mode

  1. Ah, sleep! It is a gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole! To Mary Queen the praise be given, she sent the gentle sleep from heaven, that slipped into my soul.

    (That was my favourite ‘prayer’ in a book of collected prayers for years before I read the rest of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Now I love it even more.)


    1. It is indeed a gentle thing. What a lovely quote! Must reread the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Actually we are supposed to be studying it in Year 4 this year!


      1. Oooh, really? In year FOUR?! Have children become cleverer? Anyway, if you’ve never read Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope and Poetry, get hold of a copy and read at least the chapter on Coleridge – it’s brilliant.


  2. Your description of a brain “addled and active and rolling like a sackful of cats” so perfectly described my night, as I sit here, rather blearily checking my emails, having waved the boys off to school and waiting for the gas man. A recent short break from teaching saw my sleep improve and my nights become calmer. Now, with the acceptance of a new teaching contract to commence after February half term, I find the disturbed nights and the strange dreams have returned. How comforting to know that I am not the only one – but I shall hope and pray for peaceful nights for both of us, whilst giving thanks for the joy of Saturdays!


    1. Caroline, all the best with your new venture! It does depend so much on the culture of the school and whether it works for you. We are all so different. I changed schools last September and reduced to 3 days, and while I do still get the odd weird one, nights are a lot better than they used to be. Sometimes it’s just a change that is needed and this may be the case for you. My prayers that this new job would be just right for you and that night-time peace would return. Thanks so much for reading and commenting x


  3. Cracking, moving post. I almost cried, so you know it was good. But then I identify with so much of it. I loved the Poe quote. The strangest place I ever slept was on King’s Cross Station where I spent one long, cold night when I was 18, on a bench, with an Unsuitable Male Companion. I’ve not thought about that for years, until your post. I will tuck the memory away again under ‘Reasons I’m glad God rescued me.’


    1. Oh Fran, I so relate to that memory. I have some similar ones. Am amazed and touched you were so moved by the post. At first I thought the Poe quote quite depressing but have now decided there may be more wisdom in it than I thought. Thank you x


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