A disrupted night’s sleep is one of the unfortunate concomitants of parenthood; rumor has it that so terrible is the toll that it extracts that some are scared off procreation altogether. Rare is the parent of the infant or toddler who has not tendered a complaint about sleep deprivation to his bored, unsympathetic, childless friends and family. (The wise ones tell it to the ‘been there, done that’ crowd.)
But like most of life’s dispensations, this one is not unmixed in the blessings and curses it tenders. As but a trivial example, a disturbed morning’s sleep means that I can rise early to catch the opening session of the live telecast of a cricket game being played six time-zones away. But by far the most pleasurable side-effect of disrupted sleep are the lucid dreams that result when you do manage to fall asleep again. An amateur chemist scheming to produce a new best-selling psychotropic drug might do well in aiming to produce some of these effects in his intended product.
I first noticed the intense imagery and quasi-hallucinatory sensations present in the dreaming during a sleep session following disruption in the most unfortunate of ways: during painful, hungover mornings. On those occasions, I would awake early in the morning, my head pounding, my mouth cotton-dry, and stumble out to the kitchen to partake of painkillers and water, and then stumble back into bed to sleep it off. Then, I noticed that as I would fall asleep, I would be entertained by all manners of colorful, vivid dreams; their most startling feature was, almost invariably, the sensation of flight.
Somehow, magically, I would have acquired the powers of airborne locomotion; I could swoop, plummet, hover, soar, dive; I would acquire aerial perspectives on familiar landscapes; so realistic were some of these episodes that I would also experience the sickening vertigo that I unfortunately suffer from when confronted with heights. But the lucidity of these dreams quickly conquered the vertigo, for I was able to reassure myself that no harm could come to me during the dream.
The lucidity of these dreams very quickly enhanced their pleasures; as the dream begins, I feel a rush of pleasurable anticipation; I know a familiar, and yet endlessly varied, pleasure lies ahead. The pleasure at the dream-borne flights that soon follow is considerably enhanced by my knowledge that it is only in these dreams that I will be able to enjoy the pleasures that the considerably more intrepid than me enjoy during activities like hang-gliding or para-sailing. Because the dreams are lucid, I enjoy greater control over my flight, and often, even over the visual effects I seem able to produce in my dreamscapes.
So pleasurable are these dreams that I am able to comfort myself, as I cast about, hoping to fall asleep after I have been awakened by a few wails that even if I will have been denied my rightful allotment of hours of sleep, the few that will come my way will be pleasurably entertaining and continuously edificatory about the mysteries of human phenomenal experience.