December 15


On Old Nightmares, Winter Sleep, and Repairs

By Odyssa

December 15, 2022

Five to six hours of sleep - that's not something to brag about. That was the average number of hours of sleep I used to get when I was living in the Philippines, traveling, and adjusting to my first few months here in Hanoi

Realistic and disturbing

I recall having recurring nightmares of a man standing over my bed, strangling my delicate neck.

There was a creepy-looking lady standing by the gate of our house, watching my every move like a hunter waiting for its prey.

There were episodes of chasing, running away, escaping from unidentified, now forgotten, people. These dreams paralyzed me, and later, woke me up, frightened of the dark. 

I recall wanting to ask for help from my mother sleeping next to my bedroom. I was almost awake, yet, my body was incapable of any movement.

The only thing to do was wait for the spell of the nightmare to wear off. 

A change in season

Since my life started to 'normalize' here in Hanoi, and since the weather changed from autumn to winter, my sleep quality had changed. Drastically.

Now I sleep for eight to nine hours - that's additional 3 hours. This is big. I'm close to my 40s. It has been scientifically proven that humans get older, we need less sleep, yet, I am sleeping longer.

Chunky socks

Low temperature

According to Matt Walker, PhD., author of  Why We Sleep, sleeping in a cold bedroom is one of the methods to doze off faster.

Other ways are establishing the same waking and sleeping time daily, even during weekends, going to bed only when sleepy, and never lying awake in bed for a long period of time. 

I've always been a light sleeper, but as winter came around, I noticed I can easily take naps - long naps that last 1 or 2 hours - as long as I set up my nest nicely.

It has to be dark, I have to be bundled up under my thick blanket. I need a good book and warm clothes, too. 

Like I said in my last post about chores, I am not asking for spring or summer to come early. Surprisingly, I am quite enjoying the cold these days. 

Under maintenance

Winter sleeps are the best.

This is what Katherine May, author of Wintering has to say about sleep during winter:

"In winter, we are invited into a particular mode of sleep: not a regimented eight hours, but a slow, ambulatory process in which waking thoughts merge with dreams, and space is made in the blackest hours to repair the fragmented narratives of our days."

Walker says, "Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day."

I, with the rest of the world sheltered under a dimly lit period, am going through a process of mending. 

Whatever season you are in, wherever you are, we are under the same life cycle of winter, coinciding with the actual season here in Hanoi. We are being transformed, preparing ourselves for spring time. 

Maybe that's why each morning, before I step into the world of the awake, I never want sleep to end. 

Here is Elbow's version of Golden Slumbers, originally by The Beatles. 

Read my post here to know how I got here and what I am doing here now. Here's my latest post about staying in, doing chores, and things we avoid but secretly enjoy doing


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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