I have never been great with hearing repetitive sounds in my sleep. I had a full-on panic attack as a small child, crying and wailing, because the crickets were so loud at the cottage, and I couldn’t dream without hearing them. My childish explanation didn’t make any sense to my parents, who were probably already annoyed because I was a terrible cottage sleeper; I was convinced the neighbours’ dogs howling at the moon were wolves coming to eat us. (As an adult, I am fairly sure that my parents were fibbing about that – the sounds were far more likely to be coyotes, since our neighbours lived half a mile up the road.)
I can mostly deal with night crickets as an adult, but a dripping tap? The neighbour leaving their alarm clock to beep? Someone listening to a bass-y track in a nearby car? Infuriating. Nearby traffic is AOK, though, even ambulance noises don’t bother me. White noise with brief interruptions? Totally fine.
Last night, there was, somewhere outside, a wooden thing knocking quietly into another wooden thing every eight seconds. That’s it. It woke me up at 4:24am. I had to turn a fan on to mask the noise even though I was already chilly.
I had been having a dream about an Edinburgh festival that opened with a giant, Cannes-like red carpet and a crowd of tens of thousands trying to grab a look. There was a race for comedians as a launch. Ed Byrne ran across the finish line first, shook my hand, then hopped into a car (a 2CV, I think) and took off through the crowd with a ‘Fuck all of yas!’, leaving his adoring fans with no shows of his to see.
In this dream, I was not at the Edinburgh Festival. I was showing my brother a YouTube clip of the footage, which had only just been released from a previous festival I’d attended. He didn’t understand why it was awesome. I didn’t understand when there was a knocking sound every eight seconds somewhere near us (he couldn’t hear it) and started fretting about it. And I woke up.
That is not satisfying. That is not helpful. There are no dangerous metronomes on the savannahs whence humans came. What evolutionary advantage is this providing? Will this ability, should I have children, pass on to the next generation of neurotics, making them better/stronger/more able to not be killed in their sleep by a passing knitter? Let’s hope so. Might be easier to deal with the interruptions if it’s for the greater good of humanity.
But probably not. Slightly worried that I would love sleep more than my theoretical children.