Sleeping in the Philippines? Sounds kind of boring! I want to talk about something a little more exciting!
Well, I am sure you do. But, stop and think about it. Sleeping is something that we must all do. Some sleep more than others, but we all must sleep. In fact, we probably sleep more than any other single thing that we do in our lives! If you sleep 8 hours per day and live to be 70 years old, that means that you slept 204,400 hours in your life, or 2,920 hours per year! That’s a lot of time.
In this article, I will talk about some things that I have written about in previous years on this site, and I will introduce a few new things too.
To be honest, in my experience and a number of other expats that I know, getting a good night’s sleep in the Philippines can be a challenge. There are a lot of things that will attempt to wake you up! Let’s have a look at a few of the obstacles that you may face.
Yes, dogs can be a major challenge, and I have written before about dogs being loud at night. It seems that most Filipinos want to have a dog, or several dogs to keep guard at night. If an intruder comes around, they want dogs to be loud and warn the owner so that he can check it out, and also the loud barking will keep the intruder away. Well, I can attest that there are a lot of loud dogs in the Philippines. They bark incessantly, and not only when there is an intruder. They seemingly bark for any reason at all, perhaps even if they see their own shadow from the street light! In our old house, in another part of town, dogs were a huge problem. Luckily, since we moved last year, though, the level of dog noise has subsided greatly. I am very thankful for that. About a week ago, though, our own dog was barking loudly in the middle of the night and woke me up. I had to get up and go outside and let him know that it was time to be quiet. Thankfully, after I let him know of my unhappiness, he quieted down for the rest of the night, though. Truth is, though, most Filipinos will not quiet their dog like that, they will just let the dog bark all night long. It can lead to some very sleepless nights.
This is a problem usually on weekends. People will go out and get drunk and such, then as they walk home past your house, they can get loud and obnoxious. In this kind of case, I feel it is better to just put up with the noise until they pass and are “out of shouting distance.” The reason why I feel that way is because you really don’t want to mess with a drunk. I mean, there are a lot of people who get mean when they are drunk, and it’s best to just avoid the trouble. Besides, if you get up and go confront the drunk, it will only serve to wake you up even more than you were already awake and make it difficult to get back to sleep.
In our old neighborhood, we were on a fairly busy street, and traffic could be a real problem, even late at night. The loudest traffic, funny to say, were tricycles! Even though tricycles are small and slow, they can be quite loud because many of the older tricycles are made with motorcycles that don’t have mufflers and have very loud engines. The traffic noise could be quite a problem. Even though traffic would rarely wake us up, if you were awoken by something else, the traffic could make it hard to get back to sleep. Since moving to our new neighborhood, we are in a much quieter area, and not on a main street any longer, which has made sleeping a lot easier and more enjoyable.
The Philippines is a karaoke heaven. Filipinos generally love karaoke. They love singing and partying. Problem is, even if it is 2am or later, they still love it, and even if the karaoke bar is a block away or even more, the sound on the stereo system is turned up loud enough to “entertain” the entire neighborhood. Karaoke could be a real problem in our old neighborhood. It’s a lot less of a problem where we are now, but from time to time it will be loud here too. The good thing here in our new location, though, is that usualy by around 10pm or so they turn off, or at least turn down the karaoke sounds. Frankly, I don’t care if the singing is good or bad, it still makes it hard to sleep… and honestly, the singing is usually very bad! Whoever invented the karaoke machine has some real low marks in my book!
In addition to karaoke bars, other businesses can be a problem too. You may recall about a year ago we had a real problem with a call center that had located right next door to us and was keeping us up all night long. We ended up in court over that situation, but thankfully we won, and the problem subsided.
The weather here in the Philippines is hot! It will take some adjustment to your internal temperature control in your body before you can become comfortable sleeping here. Of course, there is air conditioning, but that can also get expensive, as power rates are high in the Philippines, among the highest power rates in the world. As far as the air conditioning goes, Feyma and I have reached a balance on that. Our air conditioning unit in the bedroom has an electronic timer on it. When we go to bed, we set the timer to keep the air conditioning running for 3 hours, and after that it automatically shuts itself off for the rest of the night. We are comfortable sleeping that way, and it saves considerable money on our power bill too.
Because it is hot here, I have gotten used to sleeping with no blankets or sheets. I just lay on top of the bed, but rarely put anything on me. From time to time I will get a bit chilly during the night (we have a ceiling fan that runs all the time, right above the bed), and when I do, I just put a sheet on my body, but that is rare. Feyma, on the other hand, likes to have a sheet and blanket. There is no way I could do that, it is just too cold. So, Feyma, being quite a tricky and ingenious person did something a bit unique… she took our king sized blanket and had a seamstress cut it in half and sew around it so that it was two blankets instead of one. That way, half of the bed has a blanket on it, and half does not. It keep the blanket “away from my side of the bed” and she can sleep comfortably under her blanket! Frankly, I had never heard of somebody having a “half blanket” but it is really a good idea and works well for us!
Another thing related to sleep is that if you move your bed here from the US, or wherever your home is, you will find that the bed sizes are a bit different here. So, if the day comes when you need to replace your old mattress, you may find it difficult to find a new mattress that will fit the bed! We ran into this problem with our King sized bed, but after doing some shopping, we found a mattress factory who could custom make a new mattress to our size specification, and the cost was only a thousand pesos or so higher than their normal size runs. I was pretty surprised by that.
So, getting a good night’s sleep in the Philippines can really be a challenge. The longer you live here, though, the easier it will get, because you will adjust to the things that keep you awake! Also, you will tend to migrate to a part of town that might exclude a few of the “problems” like we did!
Goodnight.. have a good night’s sleep!