Friday, September 9, 2011

Insomnia and DVDs.

I have really wonky sleep patterns.  I've already mentioned that sometimes I can't get to sleep because I'm worrying about stuff, but there's another issue, too: I don't recognize the sensation of sleepiness until it's so extreme that I'm pretty much incapacitated.  I only know it's time for bed when my perception of the world gets a bit...surreal.
It's not time yet.

NOW it's time.
Until that point, I'm up and doing stuff.

Right now you're probably asking yourself, "Self, if Meredith doesn't know when she's tired, how does she know that she doesn't know she's tired?"  Well, here's the deal: I'll often put on a DVD when I want to go to sleep - it gives my brain something to focus on besides pointless, obsessive worrying.  One of my favourite movies for this purpose (and also in general) is Ghost World.  I'll put on Ghost World thinking "I'm totally wired right now, but it's getting late...maybe this will put me in a mellower mood and I'll be able to sleep eventually."  On many different occasions, I've ended up passing out right around the time Enid tells her father, "Look at me.  I'm not even listening to a word you're saying."  That scene is seven minutes into the movie.

Anyhoo, as someone who frequently depends on DVDs in order to fall asleep, I am rather opinionated about how the menus work.  There are three basic things that I think every DVD should have.

1) DVDs of TV shows should always, always have a "play all" function.  The first two seasons of Futurama don't have this, which is a huge and glaring oversight.  One episode of Futurama gives me exactly enough time to doze off for five minutes and then wake up again, cranky and disoriented, right after the closing credits.

Then I have to rummage for the remote and select the next episode, and the whole cycle begins anew.  I have seriously spent entire nights sleeping in 22-minute increments because of this.

2) DVDs of TV shows should always have a "play all from here" function.  I invented this idea myself: it means that if you select a certain episode and click that button, it'll play that episode plus all the episodes after it.  That way, if I do a "play all" on Monday but fall asleep at the beginning of the second episode, on Tuesday I can effortlessly play the DVD from that point onward.  No more manually skipping ahead!

3) No DVD menu should ever, ever have music or dialog that loops.  I may crave the sound of a DVD when I'm falling asleep or lightly asleep, but once I hit the REM stage, I want quiet.  Sleeping to the repetitive noise of a DVD menu is a sure way for me to wake up feeling irritable and unrested.  If a DVD simply has to have some kind of fancy audio decoration on the menu, for Pete's sake make it a piece of dialog or music that plays once.

Yeah, I know I could avoid #3 by using the "sleep" button on my TV remote.  The problem is that I don't always fall asleep within 20 minutes of putting on a DVD.  Sometimes it takes me an hour or more to drift the "sleep" function kicks in either when I'm still actually watching, or during that delicate post-doze period where silence will wake me up.  I can't win.

Does anyone else depend on DVDs to help them sleep?  Which ones work best for you?  Let me know in the comments!


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  1. I only use TV comedies -- nothing with any violence and no musio of any kind. Maybe you could try that? Mom

  2. I tend to read The Rise of Fishes: 500 Million Years Of Evolution, which is just interesting enough that I don't have to force myself to read it when tired and boring enough that I'm not staying up turning pages. I need something new though, I've been through it a LOT of times.

  3. Also sometimes I put on the Chillout Dreams internet radio station from DI.FM. You get used to the commercials.

  4. whoa. i'm not the only one.

    my 'sleepy movie' is Hackers. my 'sleepy tv show' is Star Trek: The Next Generation. lately i've been frustrated with our Boxee box because it refuses to just play all the episodes one after another. for the past month i've spent my nights sleeping just long enough for an hour long episode to end, waking up halfway having to press 'back', 'down', 'enter', 'down', 'enter' on the remote (my hand knows this layout and orientation on its own now) , then doze back off... repeat seven-eight times, then it's tomorrow!

    i'm not even really a trekkie- and i know Hackers is a terrible movie. i just find something soothing about both of them. i don't argue with these things.

  5. OH OH. and i went through a phase of falling asleep to Blue Planet (the episode about coral seas. it HAS TO BE CORAL SEAS.) i usually fall asleep around when attenborough says '...and devours its prey wholesale.'

    i like netflix.

    i usually sleep before my husband, and he is tolerant and understanding enough to allow me this odd indulgence. sometimes he'll even play the next star trek episode for me so i don't have to half-wake up. but when he started groaning after hearing the opening sounds of Blue Planet (Coral Seas), i knew it was time to switch back to star trek. for his sake. i try to be considerate when monopolizing the tv.

  6. I can totally see how Blue Planet or ST:tNG would be good for sleeping to. So restful...almost clinical. Probably few-to-no bursts of random yelling or noise.

    Lately I've been on a huge Seinfeld bender, myself. There's just something so comforting about that show. :)