Saturday, 24 May 2014


Sleep is the chief nourisher in life's feast, according to Macbeth; and it has been in the news.

Some egg headed boffin or other has been lecturing anyone who will stay awake long enough about what he calls the new epidemic of sleeplessness.

Getting less than seven hours sleep a night is becoming more common.  This is below the recommended guideline and is associated with a range of medical problems, including an increased risk of weight gain, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer.  Quite apart from feeling tired.

A particular cause of this is suggested to be blue light which comes from computers, smartphones, tablets and all that paraphernalia and which suppresses the sleep inducing hormones, fooling the body into thinking that it should be awake.  Macbeth doth sleep no more.

Blue light or no light?
Fantasy Bob thinks there may be something in this technological insomnia.  Many nights in front of the TV he falls into a deep dreamless sleep during Newsnight only to wake with a start when the final music rolls. He does not know what hormones have been stirred by the blue light of Kirsty Wark, but having woken up to go to bed he will find sleep elusive.  Newsnight is therefore both a cause and a cure for insomnia.  It has to be one or the other.  But the stress of deciding which it is keeps FB awake all night.

Yet at other times sleep comes easily.  There seems to be no blue light in FB's office.  Any document over 2 pages long presented to FB will render him unconscious.  There may a positive benefit in this - his snores will at least keep others awake and productively on task.  But FB has long been accused of coming to work only to rest.  His colleagues have long worked out that in meetings the more alert he looks the more likely he is to be fully asleep.

How should the cricketer react to sleep deprivation?  After a sleepless night, performance may be impaired. There is a risk of falling asleep at the crease.  Many observers have thought that there is no other explanation for FB's ineptitude in facing leg spin bowling.  He must be asleep.  Why else would he have his eyes closed?

But observers would be wrong.  FB does not advise catching up on lost sleep while facing bowling of any sort.  The non-striker's end is a far preferable spot.  Many times FB has gone to the wicket confident that there will no blue light emanating from his partner.  That there is no chance of him hitting any ball for anything like a run, so that a quiet snooze for FB is well in order.

Sleeping at the non-striker's end can also be an act of self preservation - it will ensure that FB is in no way able to respond to his partner's hysterical call for a suicidal single in the event that he miraculously gets some part of the bat on the ball.  He will remain secure in his ground and come quietly back to consciousness, having to infer the sequence of events from the slumped shoulders of his colleague in the middle distance as he stomps off to the pavilion.

Some fielding positions are more conducive to the power napper than others.  On one occasion in his early bowling career, after a couple of loose ones had been pummelled towards the leg side batsman, the fielder crossly exhorted FB to sort out his line and length saying, 'There's people trying to sleep out here!'

Essential umpiring equipment
FB has also seen many umpires hang the Do Not Disturb sign on themselves as they take up position to officiate on his efforts up the hill against the wind.  It is only by being fast asleep that they could decline his polite appeals as his world famous inswingers catch the batsman dead in front.  Some umpires are adept at talking in their sleep and between snores will murmur 'Not out' under their breath.  The sound of their alarm clock ringing to tell them to end the over is only a further insult to FB's injury.

It is time these sleep disorders were investigated seriously.

For the injustice of these decisions will dwell on FB's mind - it will give him a sleepless night. FB doth sleep no more.


  1. Should FB require further assistance getting to sleep, Today in Parliament on Radio 4 is a reliable remedy. Works for me every time.

    1. FB has always thought it wise to avoid such narcotics - he might never wake up.