Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am going to start a new Tag for my WordPress posts – I am going to call in ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful.

I will not go through my old blog and update the post to inform the reader “I am cheerful – Look at me be cheerful” I am going to let it sit there like the smug bitch it is, brooding in a procrastinated fashion.

But, why am I cheerful at 3am on a Saturday morning – after no sleep for 40+ hours? Well, I could go in to details about Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs – no, in fact let’s explore that:

So, the base level of the Hierarchy of needs is Physiological – yes, I am woozy with sleep deprivation. However, that will soon be remedied when I lie down next to my wife and sleep the sleep of the righteous.

Next level up is the Need For Safety. Barring a slight altercation in a club tonight (one of the clients was a bit too merry) there is nothing to worry about. I am sat in my flat with the morning chorus going full tilt outside my window and it is quite a tranquil scene out on the street. Tick.

“Love & Belonging Needs” is the third tier. Kathryn*, family & a great circle of mates who have stuck with me through all of my mind farts.

“Esteem Needs” – Tricky one: I was No. 1 in the Beatport Reggae Chart for a bit and that kind of went away all too soon. It is respect more than self-congratulation’s that have been occurring. I am the last person to say “Well done Backhouse – here is a biscuit!” but my peers have been handing over their biscuit money in exchange for music.

The very pinnacle of the Hierarchy Of Needs is “Self Actualisation.” What the hell does this mean? The term “self actualisation” conjures images of people climbing mountains and over coming obstacles on the way to achieving their aim. If this is the case (and fill in the comments section in the footer of this post to correct me) then it was achieved tonight.

The “Self Actualisation” element of the Hierarchy was achieved in a little microcosm. We have the macrocosm explained. However, tonight saw me and Allan put the demons of Monday to bed. We had practiced and practiced our set to perform tonight at Henshaw’s. Right up until last night (Thursday night) we were sat in Allan’s kitchen getting our timing sorted. We nailed the gig on Friday (tonight)!

reasons to be cheerful
Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Here is the macrocosm: we performed the gig well. We had the admiration of our peers right there. We owned the stage and we belonged together (me and Allan) as a band – we had a right to be there and call ourselves Guerrilla Dub System. We were safe at the gig as it was for charity and Allan is good with PAs. The hole in our stomach was soon filled with Baked Potato so our physiological needs were sorted too.

Am I saying that being in a band and performing a gig fulfills Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs? I am uneducated oaf, but I do hold that I have achieved something by stepping out tonight in front of the crowd and succeeding.

I do not know if there are greater reasons to be cheerful.

*all that I hold dear.

The Future Of Anti-Depressants?

I have just returned from a family funeral – it was a great turn out and all the good and great were there along with me to pay our respects to my Granny. Whilst I was catching up with my family – I had the terrible news that my cousin (who will remain un-named so he has a veneer of privacy) has had a bad run with his mental health. Also, as readers of my blog are aware, I am currently getting help for all manner of brain maladies. Shake me and I rattle – one of the medications I am on is an anti depressant. With a new found enthusiasm to try and help my cousin, I looked in to ways of helping him.

I admit – when you are exhibiting the symptoms that are necessary to be prescribed the medication of anti-depressants – the last person you look out for is yourself. So, this is not me leaping to the aid of a relative in a foolhardy manner – no. I appreciate the torment he is going through and I am merely trying to find a way of helping him through his Dark Night of The Soul.

The thing that really shook me out of my crying-suicide-disease was a massive dose of Magic Mushrooms.

By the way, I should probably say this is a NSFW post. But, before the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, put a downer on shrooms by moving them from a something you could by in a high-street shop to a ‘A’-Class drug it really shot it in the foot for funtime-foragers. However, the real problem was in the start – Tim Leary went and completely mismanaged the early American acid trials in the 1960’s for the sake of trying to start a revolution – a lot of bad science went on and it set the movement back decades; the cool-aid acid test became a freak show to the detriment of a sustainable counterculture.

However, I found an article about the very topic of this blog post – The Future Of Anti-Depressants – on the website, VICE. in it, the article says: the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has been used in a clinical trial as an antidepressant. The science of antidepressants, is not, as it goes, an exact science. Two patients can react differently to the same drug. For some people, many of the existing drugs won’t have any effect at all.

Science is still struggling to work out why certain drugs only work for certain people. According to one study from Chicago’s Northwestern University, doctors treat the causes in a crude way, with drugs “aimed at the wrong target,” often focusing on reducing stress rather than depression itself. Others have suggested that commercial interests are skewing results when antidepressants are being tested. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some drug companies were selectively publishing studies on antidepressants that showed the drugs had a benefit and shelving others that showed there was no overall effect.

“There are a distinct proportion of patients who don’t get better despite taking lots of different antidepressants,” says Dr. Mark Bolstridge, an honorary research associate at UCL and a clinical psychiatrist. “That’s frustrating as a clinician, that even though we do have a lot of drugs at our disposal, for some people, none of them work.”

Bolstridge is already in the process of searching for alternative and unusual treatments. In particular, he’s been looking into the hallucinogenic compound found within magic mushrooms: psilocybin.

Bolstridge, alongside David Nutt, president of the British Neuroscience Association and former government drugs advisor, initially applied to run a psilocybin trial in 2013. Nutt had previously conducted small experiments before more stringent regulations around psychoactive substances were put into place. He felt that psilocybin had the potential to alleviate symptoms of depression and wanted to carry out further experiments.

Despite getting approval and funding from the UK Medical Research Council, there remained a number of roadblocks in doing the trial, because magic mushrooms were a class A drug. “We had a lot of problems getting the drug itself, because you need a special license to be able to use it… and it had to be imported from Europe,” Bolstridge told us. “Ethics committees tend to wave things through the first time you present your case to them. We had to meet with them three of four times before they were prepared to approve our study.”

He says he can see why they were met with resistance. “Your average person on the street is very skeptical of these drugs because they’re classified in the A category, which means, as far as the general person on the street is concerned, they’re dangerous, as they’re the same category as heroin and cocaine.”

But the red tape comes from more than just moral panic around class A drugs. Researchers in psychiatric hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s ran many studies linking psychedelic drugs with various therapeutic effects, including the treatment of alcoholism, depression, and even autism. But many of the studies were poorly controlled and controversial, particularly when LSD was given to the children of vulnerable people. “Studies were not performed to the contemporary standard of rigor,” says Bolstridge. “The methodology was a bit suspect.”

Since the 1970s, it has been very hard to get approval for LSD-based studies, but Bolstridge and colleagues were able, for the first time in decades, to run a clinical trial testing the effects of psilocybin on depression. They recruited 12 patients with a moderate to severe form of depression, and treated them in a controlled environment.

Unlike many clinical trials, there was no financial incentive for partaking in the trial. Bolstridge described how people were motivated to participate by a “sheer desperation,” saying, “Some patients had been on a whole load of different antidepressants, and nothing had worked. And they were still just feeling really shitty and really low, and they weren’t functioning in life. They were severely incapacitated. They weren’t working. Their lives just hadn’t planned out as hoped, as expected.”

Kirk Rutter, one of the participants in the trial, agreed to speak with us about his experiences. He told us he participated in the trial because he “thought it might help me clear the grief and get out the emotion.”

“The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level.”

After his mother’s death, Rutter suffered with ongoing depression that resisted the treatment of antidepressants and psychotherapy. He believes the drugs prescribed to him were designed to “deal with the symptoms, not the problem” and was keen to get his hands on a more effective treatment. He volunteered.

After the treatment, Rutter says he felt “very, very positive. In the first week, I felt great. And then I felt like I was moving backward. It was like, Oh crap, you know, that didn’t last long. And then I felt OK again. The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level. It’s kind of like that.”

Rutter says he now “doesn’t feel depressed” and is “certainly not stuck in the grief that I was,” although nine months after the trial, he is now experiencing “a slight decline” in his mood.

Rutter’s experiences seem to match the tentatively positive results from the trial. “The vast majority responded well,” says Bolstridge. “For the vast majority of people, the pressure ‘lifted.’ And there were some persisting changes as well, because this is very different to administering [traditional] antidepressant drugs, which you take on a daily basis. With the psilocybin, there were two doses, separated a week apart, and people responded even six months afterward. They were still better than when they first participated in the study.”

Publicity around these studies comes with its own dangers. Once people hear that magic mushrooms may treat depression, it won’t be long before all kinds of spurious headlines are seen to encourage people to self-medicate. Bolstridge says that will always be a possibility. “But I suppose we have to get out the message and disseminate it widely that people shouldn’t be messing around with these drugs, and not trying to self-medicate, because we know exactly what dosage we were giving. Someone foraging, trying to find which mushrooms to take—it’s really difficult to identify exactly how much they need.”

The psilocybin study could one day be remembered as a radical breakthrough in treating depression, but for now, there remains a lot of research to do. “This is such a preliminary project. This hasn’t been done for donkeys years, because it’s been so difficult getting hold of the drug,” explains Bolstridge. “We’re still trying to identify the best course of treatment.”

Going Steady

What is this Blog post about – well, it is about charts. Not the sexy visual charts – but a table of how well something is selling / performing compared to it’s peers at that given time.

The first thing I am going to prattle on about is the radio show I do – this week’s edition is currently No.#16 in the Noise Charts – not bad work for me. Here is an embedding of it –

As you can tell from previous incarnations of the show – I have had to drop the spoken links – I was getting a bit too hesitant when it came to pronouncing the artists with relatively exotic names. And, by exotic, I mean Icelandic artists – Like my good friend, Stewart, I have difficulty when it comes to pronouncing foreign languages; English is hard enough for me as it is. So, probably best I leave out the links.

Another thing about charts is that you only have a short shelf life for what you do – it is all or nothing really. Like how I am finding with the release I put on Beatport, Dub Force by my band Guerrilla Dub System – it peaked at No.#2 in the releases chart and did quite well for around two or three weeks. I has since dropped to obscurity in the releases chart. However, when I looked yesterday, one of the tracks from it was No.#31 in the singles chart.

The singles (although no track has been specified as a single) have all been charting at different times – quite impressive to see but it is not until July that we will have the statistics for April. Me and Allan wait with baited breath to see if we sold 4, 14 or 40 albums to get so high in the chart.

Meanwhile – my second EP (with Allan) is due out two weeks tomorrow. Pound Of Dub will see the light of day on CREAO Studio on the twelfth of May 2017. Here is an extract –

I will put a show piece for the artwork I created for the release at the bottom of this post. I am quite chuffed with the artwork for this release – I took a stock image of a mannequin’s head and crystalised the left hand half of the image. The font used in the writing is called DRUGS and is available from most font download sites.

I am writing this on Thursday afternoon – getting ready for my DJ set on Friday and trying my hardest not to sit here too smugly; see, our Landlady has just paid for us to have double glazing and it is already proving a hit. The rooms it is in (it is now in all of them) were noticeably warmer than the room without when the job was half done last night.

Anyway, I digress – here is the artwork:

 

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

CREAO Studio 4/20

No, not the 4/20 that has so much meaning to my friends – I am merely referring to the date. On the 20th April I set off to CREAO Studio to do the mastering of our second EP – it is a right corker! Due out on the 12th May, it carries on from where we left off with the first EP. Expect plenty of bass and a nod to the founding fathers of dub reggae. Here is the artwork to the EP that I did a while ago –

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

 

Whilst up at the studio I helped record Stewart’s radio show for him: it was a right laugh as Stew’s tongue frequently trips over the more exotic band’s names – he is bloody useless at pronouncing Icelandic singers – but, then so am I; Stewart does not make it easy for himself my playing a Mongolian Nose Flute ensemble quickly followed by a hip-hop act from Soweto. But he gives it his all and it is a pleasure to help out.

Whilst up at the studio I fired off a few shots of my Harinzumi camera – the results are ace! Stewart now wants one of these for Xmas and Daren H. was enamored with the thing too – it really is a winner.

 

CREAO Studio 4/20

First Attempt With My New Harinezumi Guru

Harinezumi is Japanese for ‘Hedgehog’ – it is also awesome as a camera.

To be honest, the cost of film purchase and development had taken the fun out of Lomography. I was worried too much about the cost of the prints that I did not snap away as you should. However, after finding a Japanese site that claimed these cameras were “King of Artistic Digital” I was intrigued.

I found a brand new Harinezumi Guru from 2011 in France and I have been pacing about waiting on Colissimo delivering the thing.

My Harinezumi Guru camera arrived today around 14:50 and I was showered and away from my computer at 15:20. A quick stop at Bass & Bligh later and I had acquired a battery and Micro SD card – unfortunately these are not supplied with the camera – and I headed off to Major Tom’s to read the manual.

Over a friendly, delicious pint of Atom Pale Ale I familiarised myself with the rudimentary controls of the camera – six buttons and that is all you have. I fired off a few in the pub and headed out. Here are the results –

 

First Attempt with My Harinezumi Guru

60 Seconds Everyday

How many blogs are set up, and only ever see the initial “This is a post” post? Starting a diary, journal, or blog is easy, the hard part is maintaining it. If you’re one of the owners of the thousands of one-post WordPress sites, 60 Seconds Everyday could be for you. Every night you’ll get a phone call asking how your day went, you’ll then have 60 seconds to reply, and your answer will be transcribed and saved to your online journal.

They are currently only accepting phone numbers from the US and Canada. If you have a phone number from another country, enter your email on their site to be notified when they are available in your area.

I have tried the 365 Blogging Challenge and came up short – I only lasted until February and then there was a pause as I was kind of Blogged out. Maybe this is the solution?

For more details please see their site www.60secondseveryday.com – it seems reet!

Ilford HP5 In A LOMO LC-A

I love my wife. I also love my wife’s LC-A.

The LOMO LC-A (Lomo Kompakt Automat) is a fixed lens, 35 mm film, leaf shutter, zone focus, compact camera introduced in 1984. The design is based on the Cosina CX-2.

It proves to be a lot ofo fun – however, the cost of film and development is not proving to be much fun. I have just returned from Max Spielman in town with the negatives, prints and a CD of the images. I managed to upload them to my Flickr account and here they are. If you want a copy of the images (as in, they are of you) then please get in contact.

 
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Dreaming Of A World Without Borders: Utopian Visions From The Past

I found the below article on theconversation.com – I will credit it with appropriate Canonicals, but I wanted to share it here, on my blog – If I have done anything wrong then please let me know. But, with Brexit, Mayism & Trumpism at the forefront of the western political psyche, I thought it a poignant post.

In the age of heavily restricted migration, passport control seems a natural prerogative of the state. The idea of abolishing passports is almost unthinkable. But in the 20th century, governments considered their “total abolition” as an important goal, and even discussed the issue at several international conferences.

The first passport conference was held in Paris in 1920, under the auspices of the League of Nations (the predecessor of the United Nations). Part of the Committee on Communication and Transit’s aim was to restore the pre-war regime of freedom of movement.

Indeed, for much of the 19th century, as an International Labour Organisation report stated in 1922:

Migration was generally speaking, unhindered and each emigrant could decide on the time of his departure, his arrival or his return, to suit his own convenience.

But the World War I brought harsh restrictions on freedom of movement.

In 1914, warring states France, Germany, and Italy were the first to make passports mandatory, a measure rapidly followed by others, including the neutral states of Spain, Denmark and Switzerland.

At the end of the war, the regime of obligatory passports was widespread. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which established the League of Nations, stipulated that member states commit to “secure and maintain freedom of communications and of transit”.


Freedom of movement was on the agenda at the Treaty of Versailles. Imperial War Museum London

Fences are easier to build than to dismantle. The 1920 Paris conference recognised that restrictions on freedom of movement affect “personal relations between the peoples of various countries” and “constitute a serious obstacle to the resumption of normal intercourse and to the economic recovery of the world”.

But its delegates also assumed that security concerns prevented:

for the time being, the total abolition of restrictions and the complete return to pre-war conditions which the Conference hopes, nevertheless, to see gradually re-established in the near future.

To facilitate freedom of movement, participants agreed instead to establish a uniform, international passport, issued for a single journey or for a period two years. This is how we ended up with the format of the passports we use today.

Participants also decided to abolish exit visas and decrease the cost of entry visas.

Close but no cigar

During the conferences that followed, several resolutions again highlighted the goal of abolishing passports, but concluded that the time was not yet right. In 1924, the International Conference of Emigration and Immigration in Rome maintained that “the necessity of obtaining passports should be abolished as soon as possible” but in the meantime advocated other measures to facilitate travel. These measures included an increase in the number of offices delivering passports, allowing emigrants to save time and money.

In Geneva in 1926, Polish delegate, Franciszek Sokal, opened proceedings by bluntly asking the parties to adopt “as a general rule that all States Members of the League of Nations should abolish passports”.

At that time, passports and visas were still regarded as a serious obstacle to freedom of movement, as a Mr Junod from the International Chamber of Commerce said:

Could not the Conference adopt a resolution contemplating the abolition of passports at the earliest possible date? Public opinion would regard this as a step in the right direction.

But by then, most governments had already adopted the uniform passport and some of them saw it as an important document that was meant to protect emigrants. As the Italian delegate reminded the conference that conditions had changed after the war and the passport was “particularly necessary as an identification document for workers and their families; it provided them with the protection they needed, enabled them to obtain permits of sojourn.”

Another delegate alluded to the Soviet Union when he refused to restore the pre-war regime. He said:

conditions had changed so much since the war that everyone had to take into consideration a good many things they could formerly ignore.

Passports were never supposed to be forever. www.shutterstock.com

Discussions about passport abolition resumed after World War II.

In 1947, the first problem considered at an expert meeting preparing for the UN World Conference on Passports and Frontier Formalities, was “the possibility of a return to the regime which existed before 1914 involving as a general rule the abolition of any requirement that travelers should carry passports”.

But delegates ultimately decided that a return to a passport-free world could only happen alongside a return to the global conditions that prevailed before the start of the first world war. By 1947, that was a distant dream. The experts advised instead a series of bilateral and multilateral agreements to attain this goal.

World leaders were still talking about banning passports as late as 1963, when the UN Conference on International Travel and Tourism recognised “the desirability, from both an economic and social point, of progressively freer international travel”. Once again, it was estimated that “it is not feasible to recommend the abolition of passports on a world-wide basis.”

Now, neither the public nor governments consider passports as a serious obstacle to freedom of movement, though any would-be traveller from Yemen, Afghanistan or Somalia would no doubt argue differently.

It takes less than a century, it seems, to see the absence of freedom as a natural condition.

A New Venture

I am a bit of an amateur artist – as in I do arty things but I do not do it professionally (or well).

My online HQ for this sort of thing is www.andybackhouse.com – a collection of photographs and recording, a giant post-it note of assorted output if you would.

One of the more recent venture on that site was the start of my podcast, Mr Backhouse’s Loudspeaker.

Now available on iTunes and Google Play – to name a few services – it has proved to be a bit of a laugh. I have had some great feedback from people I admire and respect and the a local poet seems to like it to. Yes, it is poetry – I admit it, I am pretty shoddy when it comes to the written word – but this is nonsense poetry and I am damn good at it.

To see for yourself – you can subscribe here or search for it on your music store.

Here is the artwork I made for it –

Sound Of Wonder (Ambulances)

The weekend got off to a good start. Me & Kathryn met up with our good friends, Stewart & Karen, in 10 Devonshire – sampled a few ales and then went off to the recording studio to aid Stewart to record his show. The beer I tried at 10 Dev was Island Records IPA – great in a can, but, I believe that the pub had over carbonated the keg and it was all together unpleasant. Pity, they ruined a good beer – and, not the first time they have done so.

At CREAO, the recording studio, we set up and sorted out Episode #50 and Episode #51 of The Sound Of Wonder, Stewart’s radio show. It went to plan except the mastering is taking a bit longer now I have nearly filled up their hard drive. They are good shows and I recommend that you seek them out.

After leaving the studio – around 01:30 – me and Kathryn were walking home and found someone passed out on the pavement; at first I thought it was a discarded duvet, but it turned out to be a chubby chap in a white shirt. The emergency number was dialed and the ambulance was sent out – I had to check he was still breathing and not in a pool of blood / vomit / choking.

He eventually managed to wake himself out of his stupor just as the paramedic was turning the corner – only to walk off without so much as a “I’ll best be heading home now.” Pillock – glad he did not damage himself although I think that he had a bit too much to drink and would have made an area of himself in the morning judging by the state that he would be in the day after.

Saturday was spent doing a grand total of F.A. In the evening I went to the opening of an exhibition – I am part of a group of artists who sporadically (when we are organised enough ) exhibit in North Bar. The current artist displayed there is Hanna Fillingham and they work sets the standard high – I like it.

Quickly dashed home after a swift pint with Fraser and cooked Andy’s Special Fried Rice (recipe some other time). Kathryn saw the final installation of Taboo (TV programe that starred Tom Hardy) and we stayed up late doing not much.

Sunday came around. I am really a big fan of Early-Spring Sunday’s. The weather is warm enough to feel comfortable but it is a bit too grim to venture out. So, the day was spent in PJ’s & Dressing gown. Kathryn had a bit of work on the go so I did some research for the coming week’s developments. In the afternoon I recorded my radio show, The Parish News. Do you want to listen?

Other than that it has been a great day of zero input, maximum reward. There were a few issues with my blog, on the map section on the ABOUT page, but not much.

Oh yes …. I have found a new stand-alone that normalises the podcasts I make. In the past, I have always struggled to make the volume of my speech and the volume of the music I play the same – I believe LEVELATOR does the job of sorting it out..

Levelator, from The Conversations Network, is a great piece of software for making everything the same volume. Here is what their site says:

It’s not a compressor, normalizer or limiter although it contains all three. It’s much more than those tools, and it’s much simpler to use. The UI is dirt-simple: Drag-and-drop any WAV or AIFF file onto The Leveler’s application window, and a few moments later you’ll find a new version which just sounds better.

Do you agree? Check out the podcast embedded above – it is a great piece of software that, whilst not 100% for the type of show I do, is needed none the less.

The Restorative Power Of Sleep

As readers of my blog know – I have had quite bad insomnia since 2009. I will sleep for fifteen or sixteen hours and then go three or four days without sleep. I never got to the point where I felt like I had a good night’s sleep – I was like the walking dead most days, unable to function.

Such an episode occurred recently – it was my birthday on Friday and I had not really slept until Tuesday. On the advice of my siblings I got in contact with the local GP and came down to the surgery in crisis. I cannot fault the NHS – from the time I picked up the telephone to speak to the helpful receptionist to holding a prescription in my hand there must have only been an hour pass.

I picked up my repeat prescription and was also given some controlled drugs – they are quite heavy weight but I took one around 4pm (I was having palpitations a that point) and quickly fell to slumber. I was expecting to be out until dawn this morning – but, I woke up 10 hours later completely refreshed!

I feel like a new person!

I had always been wary of taking extra medication – especially for something I considered subsidiary, like sleep – but the effect it had on me is amazing. I did not need to reach for the coffee first thing (at 1am), I did not feel like I could have done with an extra three hours in bed – I felt comfortable, clean and welcome in my own body.

But what happens when I don’t sleep?

Firstly, I will have missed out on one of the biggest benefits of sleep – feeling fresh in the morning!

Secondly, sleep is vital for healthy physical, mental and emotional processing. When I go without sleep, or have insufficient sleep, my body struggles to perform to it’s full potential and, as a consequence, I can expect impairments to my next-day physical and mental performance. The same happens to you, you know.

Due to a close link between certain hormones and sleep, not sleeping has the potential to cause imbalances in hormone activity. Human Growth Hormone, for example, peaks during sleep meaning that insufficient sleep may affect growth and cell-repair throughout the body.

In addition to growth, my metabolism may be affected as well. Studies in which healthy individuals have been sleep restricted have shown that there are alterations to hormones involved in the regulation of appetite and an accompanying increase in seeking out food, as well as glucose metabolism.

What interests me is what happens in the brain when there is a shortage of sleep: overall, research has suggested that normal functioning is likely to be hindered by loss of sleep. Repercussions such as reduced energy levels with bursts of euphoria, unstable moods and excessive sleepiness during the day (obvs.) have all been observed in people who haven’t slept, according to research conducted by S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

Excessive sleepiness can be especially hindering and even dangerous as it tends to be preceded by frequent lapses in focus before individuals fall into a short episodes of sleep, also known as ‘microsleeps’. These episodes are a known contributing factor to traffic accidents with drowsy drivers falling asleep at the wheel (Boyle et al. 2008).

Whilst we can recover from not sleeping very quickly, it can have negative long-term consequences for our health. Chronic poor and restricted sleep are known, for example, to be associated with the development of illness, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancers.

The most well known experiment on total sleep deprivation involved a teenager called Randy Gardner, who managed to maintain wakefulness for 11 days. During this period, he experienced problems with his working memory, speech and eventually hallucinations.

It is safe to say that keeping yourself awake long after feeling the pressure to sleep is unwise. Sleeping is not something humans can choose to do or not to do – it is essential for facilitating normal functioning.

However, this is not a scientific paper – it is a celebration that my brain has had a night’s rest. I missed out on a good swath of my birthday and, poor Kathryn, Valentine’s Day was a bit of a write off – but, I intend to make up for it. So, thanks to M. & A. (my siblings) for getting me to go to the GP.

Boyle, L.N., Tippin, J., Paul, A., Rizzo, M. (2008). Driver performance in the moments surrounding a microsleep. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 11(2), 126-136.