My kind of contest

I don’t know if you can tell it from my posts, but I’ve been tired a lot lately. When I try to think what to blog about, little comes to mind because I just can’t seem to come up with the energy or ambition to think a lot of deep thoughts, tackle challenging books, or even continue the online German lessons I was going to write about once I got further along (past the elementary stuff that’s mostly review from when I studied German a long time ago).

My husband thinks I have sleep apnea, and wants me to get a sleep study. (I have an appointment with the doctor on Tuesday.) I’ve had friends who were diagnosed with sleep apnea, and getting a CPAP machine dramatically increased their energy levels as they finally got a good night’s sleep. I’m not looking forward to the prospect of sleeping with a mask over my face (I never thought of myself as claustrophobic until I tried using my husband’s CPAP machine and mask, and couldn’t sleep at all because I was so desperate to rip that thing off my face). But it sure would be nice to have more energy.

In the meantime, though, I’d love to be able to participate in a contest like the one going on in Madrid right now. Concerned that the national tradition of taking a siesta at midday is disappearing, the National Association of Friends of the Siesta is sponsoring a siesta competition. In a busy shopping center, contestants take 20 minute naps on comfy blue sofas.

The intricate rules award points to contestants depending on how long they sleep during the 20-minute competition time, any unusual positions they sleep in, eye-catching pajamas they might be wearing, and yes, a lot of extra points for snoring.

I don’t know whether I could get to sleep quickly enough to win on points, but I’d be happy to get some eye-catching pajamas if it meant catching a quick snooze at lunchtime. I lie on my side to get to sleep, but inevitably wake later lying on my back with my arms crossed over my chest – like a corpse, my husband complains. Would that get me some points, do you think? He says I snore, too – though I doubt it’s a loud as he does sometimes.

I’ve wondered, sometimes, how much life in Spain has changed since I was there in the early 1980’s. I know the economy has become more modernized, which means in general higher productivity, more opportunities to trade with the rest of Europe, and presumably a higher standard of living. (An acquaintance there in 1983 was surprised when I spoke of the difficulty of making ends meet with my $3000 annual stipend as a part-time “intern” teacher the year before. He knew men raising a family on that much money.)

But that modernization also means more time pressure, and in many businesses an end to the two- or three-hour midday break that was the norm when I was there. We students got out of classes at 1 PM for lunch, and didn’t have to be back until 4 PM. When I had lived with a Spanish family in Valencia two years earlier, that meant I could go home for a hearty midday meal. In Madrid, renting a room in an apartment, it meant going to one of many inexpensive restaurants with friends from school.

What I couldn’t do much during the extended lunch break was run errands. Banks were closed. Offices were closed. Many stores were closed. I don’t know how many people actually took a nap then, but few places conducted business as usual during siesta time.

I’m a long way from Madrid now, though, and even if the pace of life is somewhat more relaxed in rural Iowa than back east where I lived until twelve years ago, no one I know is sponsoring a sleep contest nearby. If I hear of one, though, I’ll be glad to sign up.

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6 Responses to My kind of contest

  1. Margaret says:

    I wonder how men were able to raise a family on $3,000 a year in 1983 Spain. What were rents like? Maybe these were men who had inherited an already-paid-for house to live in? Also, if the pace of life is somewhat more relaxed in rural Iowa than here in the east, I wonder what we spend our time doing that you are not doing?

    • Pauline says:

      Housing was inexpensive, compared to here in the States. I don’t remember exactly how much I paid to rent a room, but I think it was something like $100 a month. When I came back to the States and got a room (in the home of the mother-in-law of the principal of the school where I taught), it was $140 a month, and even that was probably low.

      The family I stayed with my first time in Spain wasn’t exactly wealthy (the father was a mechanic of some kind, I think, and the mother rented apartments – two of them, I think – to American students). But they had a vacation home – what would probably be the equivalent of a condo – in a resort city.

      Food was also cheaper. I could buy a filling sandwich (approximately the size of a 6″ sub) for under $1, and if I really wanted to scrimp I could get one filled with fried squid rings for about 35 cents. Food cooked at home was of course even cheaper.

    • Pauline says:

      As for the pace of life, I know one thing I spend a lot less time doing now than I did back east is waiting in line or in traffic. If there are more than two people ahead of me in line here, it’s unusual. B At the bank in Trenton, I can remember feeling lucky if there were fewer than twenty people ahead of me.

      Lately there has been some construction on the highway that goes around the town, and everyone has to go single file. It probably added a whole two or three minutes to my commute. That’s the closest I’ve been to a traffic jam in months.

  2. Margaret says:

    Another question. How were your friends with dramatically increased energy levels able to tolerate the CPAP? My husband could never stand to wear his CPAP mask. He was retested this summer and found to have an extremely high level of apnea events per hour. He received a brand-new CPAP machine (with humidifier) and mask, but even so he can only tolerate it for a few hours per night, and his energy level is nowhere near “dramatically increased,” if at all. But I guess it’s always worth a try.

    • Pauline says:

      Jon can’t sleep more than about 4 hours with his CPAP machine, but he does sleep more soundly. Of course, he rarely sleeps more than 4 hours no matter what, but that’s mostly because of his strange schedule, and his body being so mixed up about when to sleep and when to wake.

      I’ve heard they have new masks that are easier for people who can’t stand a mask to tolerate. I guess I’ll find out if I end up needing one.

      I do know people who have trouble keeping the mask on, though, whether it’s because of the mask itself or the fact that it’s attached by a hose to a machine, so you can’t move around in bed so much. Especially in the early stages of getting used to it, people wake up with the mask off but have no memory of having removed it.

  3. renaissanceguy says:

    Pauline, I too would enjoy the contest. My problem is insomnia. I often have to nap to make up for it. I have gone totally off caffeine for other reasons, but I still have trouble going to sleep sometimes.

    I would love to visit Spain, but I probably never will.

    I hope that you find relief for whatever is troubling you.

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