Methought I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!  Microsoft does murder sleep!”

I occasionally have my bones to pick with Microsoft, though on the whole I think they do a good job and make products that I use all the time, and that I have used since I was maybe 12 years old.  But last night, my Windows-based laptop did an automatic update at around midnight or twelve-thirty, and the consequences thereof made me feel less-than-charitable toward the company and its people.

I had gone to sleep watching a YouTube video of a British comedy panel show (one I’d seen many times before, which was why it helped me go to sleep), but once the aforementioned update was over and everything restarted, that show restarted, from its beginning, along with its raucous opening music.  This, weirdly enough, woke me up violently out of what had been, up until then, a reasonably sound sleep.  I had to scramble first to figure out what was happening, then to input my password just so I could get to the screen with the video and stop it playing.

I’m not saying I would have slept through the night like a log otherwise; that almost never happens.  But I was asleep until then, at least.  I had gone for a nice long walk in the evening after work the night before, which helped make me sleepy.  And once I’d been startled awake by the video, it was a long time indeed before I was able to get back to sleep, and my sleep was intermittent after that, as it often is after the first few hours of the night.

What I don’t get is, why does the system trigger a re-starting of such videos after it updates, even if the lock screen is up so that one cannot access it without entering the password?  It doesn’t make sense.  If one’s computer is dormant after restarting, such that to use it one must input one’s password, then videos certainly shouldn’t be relaunching until and unless someone returns to the relevant page.  Surely the code for this can’t be too hard to add to the system; I’m amazed that it wouldn’t simply be the default setting.

Maybe it’s not a problem with Microsoft as much as with Google, who produced the browser I was using and, of course, who owns and operates YouTube.  If they’ve deliberately made it so that videos start playing when a system has restarted after an update, even when the lock screen is on—knowing that most automatic updates are set to happen late at night to minimize user inconvenience—then they need to rethink their software, and indeed their very lives.  Those of us who already suffer from insomnia would be delighted to be tasked with keeping the responsible programmers from ever having more than one hour of daily sleep for the (very brief) remainders of their lives.

Perhaps I should only speak for myself.  It’s not as though anyone else has nominated me to speak for any group, and I certainly haven’t been unanimously elected to represent all the insomniacs of the world or even the USA.  Still, it’s irritating.  This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it happens intermittently, and rather unpredictably—since updates happen irregularly, and I don’t tend to notice ahead of time that they are coming.

And I enjoy using such YouTube videos to help me go to sleep.  Dropping off at night to a favorite British comedy panel show is at least a pleasant beginning to a night’s slumber, even for those of us with both difficulty falling asleep and difficulty staying asleep.

You would think that such an issue would be a minor problem, and I suppose it would be, if not for my already troubled sleep.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I can literally remember the last time I had a restful night’s sleep; it happened in the mid-1990’s.  I’ve had general anesthesia since that time, but it’s just not the same.

And though I can induce somewhat longer sleep using medications, they don’t make me feel rested—I don’t know that they make anyone feel rested, since they tend to screw up the normal sleep processes—and I really can’t use them during the work week, because they all make me feel foggy and woozy the next day.

Sorry.  Here I am complaining again.  But I guess I can do that if it’s what I want to do.  As I’ve said, I hoped to use at least these daily (nearly-daily, anyway) blogs as a kind of therapy or catharsis* of some kind, and so, given that, well…it’s my blog and I’ll whine if I want to.

I don’t know that any of it is doing any good one way or another, though I suppose if word of this happens to reach someone at Microsoft or Google (or both) and encourages them to change their software so they don’t further damage people who are suffering from insomnia on top of dysthymia/depression and ASD, decreasing such people’s chances of survival past the end of the present month, which was already not terribly great, then maybe—just maybe—it will have done some good in the world for someone, even if it hasn’t done any good for me.

For me, it’s doing about as much good as the dream-voice that troubled Macbeth did for Duncan after he had already been murdered.  It might almost just as well be a dagger of the mind, proceeding as it does from this heat-oppressed brain.


*Though I’m pretty sure the more or less literal notion of catharsis as a psychological process has been disproven, at least in its semi-literal idea that some form of “pressure” builds up and needs to be released.  But maybe I’m conflating catharsis with something else.

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