The Sleeponomic Consequences of the Teas

Like most people from my neck of the woods, I drink tea by the bucketful. For years I have been able to go off to bed with a mug of tea and fall asleep the moment I’ve finished the chapter of whatever Agatha Christie masterpiece I happen to be reading at that moment. And I sleep like a 5ft 11 baby.

I am not, however, immune to the effects of caffeine. A cup of coffee (or, in bygone days, a sup of Buckfast) before going to sleep will not stop me falling asleep, but I’ll wake up –often with a jolt- 2 or 3 hours earlier than I ought to.

Over the last year or so, I hadn’t been sleeping too well, waking up at 4, half 4 in the morning and finding it hard to get back to sleep until about 20 minutes before I have to get up. I decided some time back, in light of this, to refrain from drinking caffeinated tea in the evenings, opting for the decaffeinated version instead. Since then, there has been some improvement.

I would not buy decaffeinated tea for myself, as I think it’s of the same order of goods as Kaliber and menthol cigarettes. My wife buys it though, because she’s a lot more susceptible to the effects of caffeine than I. As it’s in the house, and as I like the ritual of tea-drinking, I drink it anyway, even if it is not conducive to the mildly contemplative state of being that the stimulants in real tea bring.

Last night, it was not my turn to make the tea. When the call came from the kitchen inquiring as to what kind of tea I wanted, I said normal. I thought – why should I be beholden to fear of waking up in the middle of the night- am I not, after all, a man?

I woke up at 4 in the morning, in thrall to the usual phantasms, and after cursing my cavalier attitude to the effects of tea, began the usual ritual to get back to sleep – selecting 10 outfield players by their regular position and 1 goalkeeper from every Premiership team, going through the teams in alphabetical order. Then I started counting all the window panes in our house, and then my parents’ house. (Strangely enough, I can never remember the exact number in either).

None of this guff worked, as I knew it was all in vain anyway due to the caffeine I felt coursing through my veins. I fell asleep the obligatory 20 minutes or so before the time I had to get up. Dull-eyed, I vowed to my wife this morning that, much to my regret, I would not touch normal tea again in the evenings.

She then revealed that the tea she had given me was decaf.

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