The curse of the night owl

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Virgil Evetts

From my mid-teens through to my late twenties I was a consummate late nighter.  Lights-out at 2am was quite the norm on weekdays, and weekends were much, much worse. I don’t know how I did it. But then age, work and my general softness took their toll. Bed times crept back until I literally couldn’t stay awake much beyond 10pm. Although a bit boring, and alarmingly indicative of the onward march of decrepitude, I certainly felt better for a good night’s sleep.

But now, in my mid 30s, with my baby brother in law (he of the frock coats and black nail polish) recently having left home and a real baby only weeks away, I seem to be regressing. Despite my good intentions, I find it all but impossible to get to bed before midnight again.

The main problem with staying up late is not tiredness the next day, which so far hasn’t been too dreadful, but the fact that the sated affects of dinner wear off around 11pm.  Hungers beckons, gnaws and nudges.  There are always leftovers in the fridge, but I don’t do sequels. So I’m forced to graze the pantry, usually making do with whatever salty, fatty and sometimes sweet convenience-morsels I can lay my hands on.

Cheese and crackers are a common choice – usually in the company of our neighbour’s excellent feijoa chutney; I’ve been enjoying a bit of a crumpet revival lately too… a fine thing, a toasted crumpet, especially spread thickly with Kaya (coconut jam) or honey; and if I’m feeling really desperate (i.e. no crackers or crumpets on hand) I’ll raid my precious stockpile of frozen roti, usually reserved for Thai curry nights. These are very good drizzled with kecep manis and sesame chilli oil…

But the thing is, none of these quite satisfies me enough to quell greedy thoughts for long. I could cook something I suppose, that might do it, but I hate going to bed with cooking smells lurking about the place.

There are many schools of thought about what foods are good to sleep on too. Some based in rational science (e.g. sugar and excess carbs really are stored as fat if you don’t burn them up quick-smart) and others based on nonsense superstition and weird Englishness e.g. cheese gives you bad dreams.  But to be honest, when the late night hunger horrors find me, I couldn’t care less about side effects.

It’s perhaps a good thing then that I have at last found the perfect, late night snack – and as a happy accident it’s a healthy one too. Well sort of/probably not at all.

In my latest attempt to start eating breakfast, I test-drove a number of  cereals. Overall they were just as I remember them being from my childhood i.e. a pretty ‘meh’ affair. Until I discovered granular love in the form of a certain very-well-known brand’s berry-laden-muesli-cluster-and-other-nice-things  mix.  Ok it’s Sanatarium’s Cluster Crisp Triple Berry,  and before any of you get antsy about covert advertising etc, I’m volunteering this opinion entirely unsolicited. Of course, if the good people at Sanatarium wish to furnish me with an unending supply of their product, that would be just fine.

Anyway, suffice to say, this cereal is very, very good indeed. Well I think so. It includes a great variety of mostly toasted grains and delicious freeze-dried fruit, all bulked out with too-too-good berry-juice-soaked clusters (of oats, I think). For reason of economy and potential obesity I strictly ration myself to two bowls and two bowls only per day: one in the morning, and one last thing at night. Well that was the plan -turns out I really don’t do breakfast, even when it’s terribly good. So now my late nights are capped off and complimented by two large (my rationing never stipulated volume) bowls of cereal. Satiating perfection.

I also hear good things about porridge at 4am.

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