On 12 May, I attended The Sleep Over, a sleep experiment at the Quarterhouse in Folkestone, as part of the Festival of the Brain organised by Folkestone Fringe and designed by installation artist Geraldine Pilgrim.
The event was due to start at 11 am, but the organisers were running late. With the other attendees I waited at The Clearing, where the bar is located. There, we listened to bedtime stories, beautifully read by Zena Cooper, sipping a complementary drink, hot chocolate in my case.
Half an hour later, we were ushered into the auditorium, where all the seats had been removed to make room for 15 beds, like the one in the picture above.
Each one of us was given a small canvas painted with a different colour, and then asked to take the bed under a big canvas of the same colour.
After a tour of the premises--changing rooms, bathrooms, and a room where insomniacs could chill out in front of a TV set, nibble on snacks and have a cuppa!--we were introduced to our matron. He would stay awake all night, sitting at a desk in the middle of the auditorium, just to reassure us and answer any questions we might have. I wish I had paid more attention and remember his name. I felt sorry for him, and was grateful at the same time. This made me feel really pampered, a way I haven't felt for a long, long time.
And the pampering continued. I drifted off listening to another bedtime story, woke up to the Shipping Forecast, and finally surrendered to my surprisingly comfy bed. I woke up a few times during the night, but fell back to sleep immediately. I had expected to have difficulty in falling asleep, as usually I need a few nights to adjust to a new bed. However, I was in heaven. I hadn’t slept so well in ages.
In the morning, the joyful chirping of birds woke us up, followed by The Morning by Grieg. This piece of music always makes me smile. It brings me back to when, at 6, I danced to it in my first and only ballet show: somewhere I should still have photos of me in the yellow costume I wore on the occasion.
As soon as I woke up, I duly wrote down the dream I had the night before in the notebook provided, as we had been instructed to do.
At 9 am, breakfast was served at The Clearing and we had the chance to share our thoughts on the event between ourselves and the organisers.
I was one of the few people who slept well thought the night. One thing we all had in common though: we absolutely loved our beds!
To finish an already positive experience, I joined the yoga workshop held in the sleep over installation, lead by teacher Sally Anne Cranage, for a gentle Sun Salutation.
At the end, I stayed behind with another attendee and helped the staff to clear the room. We were so happy we felt like giving a hand to those who had made this wonderful experience possible. I certainly look forward to the next Sleep Over at the Quaterhouse.
And for you, dear Seeker, what's the best sleep over you ever had?