illustrated moment

making sense with words and pictures


The trouble with silent alarms

im silent alarm

I am currently working as a professional lab rat over the summer months and that means I have to wake up by a certain time in the morning. A task which my entire ancestor tree has been doing for as long as life has existed on this gorgeous planet – the task known as waking up – has proved to be somewhat of a difficult thing.

As I’m writing this – and seeing as you are reading this – the general consensus is that I am not in a vegetative state, but in fact I am conscious, alert and orientated. That would mean that I woke up at some point during the day – and I’m happy to report that I did indeed! So what’s the problem? The problem is that I am not waking up at the right time.

Like everybody else, the hour at which I need to wake up by is often too early to make use of my will power, so I set an alarm – in fact, I set about 5 alarms. When I finally go to bed I make sure that my alarm is away from my reach, so that I must get up and switch off it’s super annoying tune – and hoping that the entire process will prompt me not to climb back into bed to cuddle my duvet. Great, so what’s exactly the problem? The fact that I still manage to wake up late because the alarm hadn’t done it’s job!

This perplexing situation made me do a little research of my own. I set the alarm at different times during the day to check that all was in working order – super annoying tune, loud enough to wake up the entire city, going off a million times, absence of a dismiss button – and the results show that there is no reason why I should not be waking up all irritated and tired when the alarm dictates it.

So here’s my very short list of theories on the matter:

1. I am being targeted by an alarm ninja, who sneaks into my room just in time to neutralise the evil alarm clock because they don’t want me to get up and be productive – stupid alarm ninja!

2. I am the alarm ninja – unknowingly rising during deep sleep to switch off the alarm and return back to the dreams happening on the pillow, with no recollection of such activity when I finally do wake up – stupid alarm ninja brain!

Told you it was a very short list.

What a silly problem to be having! I have to now make an effort to retrain my brain to recognise the sound of the alarm clock so I can wake up before any funny business happens to delay my mornings and get me in trouble!

Stupid alarm clocks! 

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An uncomfortable dream

I’m the type of person that dreams every single night. Do you have any idea how exhausting that is? Putting my head down on my pillow in order to escape from the chaos of the day, only to find that my dreams are wackier and more emotional – no wonder I wake up tired! Usually, I sleep right the way through the night, and analyse my dreams during my morning commute – but this one time…it was different. Very different.

*Imaginary dramatic music playing in the background*

I was in my house and it was night-time. Only the desk lamps were on, giving the rooms a dull glow. I’m not sure what compelled me, but I walked over to look out of the window. Yes, I confirmed that it was dark outside. However, the top half of the sky was pitch black – like it was a sheet of paper painted black. The view from my window was one of houses and apartment blocks, but the top half of all of them just disappeared into this abyss. No stars. No subtle hues of deep purples or blues that usually accent the night sky. I remember thinking it was bizarre, but hey, we’re in a dream so anything goes! I retreated back to the room and after some time I found myself distracted by a pulsating light outside the window. A flash of blue – right there on the horizon! That’s strange. There was another flash, and another…the pulses of colour were rhythmic and captivating. I remember glancing back into the room I was in, purely out of confusion and slight disbelief at what I was seeing. I saw the interior of the house darken, just like the top half of the night sky had been. An uncomfortable chill grew in the back of my neck as I focused on the blue lights. When I concentrated hard enough it felt like I was able to slow the passage of time for a moment or two, and I could see what the blue flashes really were. They were the passage of a whole day – the blue light came on as the sun rose over the horizon and then set again, without travelling the sky above. I was standing still as days rose and set in the horizon far away. It was eerie and isolating. Then something even more bizarre happened. After yet another blue flash, an intense orange light exploded in the horizon. I recovered from the momentary blindness to witness the entire solar system lined up right in front of me. I’m a physics nerd, and I must express the majesty of seeing such a thing! I remember feeling overwhelmed and excited, but those emotions were quickly overpowered by serious nervousness. I was shaky and unsure of what this all meant – why was I witnessing all of this? I knew I was dreaming but I felt like there were so many levels to this scenario that I hadn’t begun to understand yet. That’s when I saw the man. He was standing outside, with a torch in his hand. He was looking for me! I instinctively knew I must hide from him – he could not know that I witnessed everything. As I frantically tried to crawl behind a desk, and he shone his light through my window – I woke up.

My heart was beating hard. My mind was frazzled, but I was really happy to be back in reality!

I’ve seen many dreams, and remembered most of them, but none of them have left me wondering so much as this one. I understand that dreams are works of brain magic, reorganising and making sense of conscious thoughts and emotions when we close our eyes to rest our bodies. However, this dream felt different. Very different.