Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oh, To Be Nocturnal


I’m basically a professional sleeper.

My head hits the pillow at whatever o’clock and I sleep like a baby until the morning alarm. (Well, not like one of my babies, I don’t wake every two hours hungry and crying.  Where does this expression even come from?  Obviously from someone who never raised a newborn.)  I am really, truly grateful that up to this point in my life I don’t have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.  I know I shouldn’t complain. I know that the words I’m about to type are patently ridiculous but I am compelled to confess them.

I’m incredibly jealous of people who don’t require so much sleep.

I’m not even talking about so-called super sleepers here.  I’m actually not jealous of this 1-3 percent of the population who not only get by but thrive on just a few hours of sleep a night.  I love sleep too much to be envious of people who only get through one REM cycle.  That’s not even enough for an incredible dream about running a bookstore in Stars Hollow (or a vivid nightmare about having to retake a college math class in order to get a diploma).   In my book, super sleepers are like some kind of legitimate super hero (or cylon) and therefore get a pass on my intense jealousy.

Nope, I’m jealous of all you normal people, the ones of function well on 6-8 hours of sleep a night.  People like my husband.  My husband can kiss me goodnight at 10 pm, pick up his banjo and play for another two hours (which is why the man was able to learn to play a banjo in a month) and climb into bed after midnight only to rise at 6 am and bring his (still sleeping) wife a cup of coffee.  He’ll even have the audacity to smile at me and maybe make a joke or two.  Meanwhile, I’m forcing my eyelids open because after eight hours of sleep, I’m still a little rough around the edges.  

 The scene in my bed every single morning.  Preferably after a solid nine hours of sleep.

Before children and in between jobs, I did one of those at-home sleep studies where you don’t set an alarm and you go to bed at the same time every night for two weeks and record when you naturally wake up.  The idea is that you’ll discover your body’s own circadian rhythm.  I found out I have the circadian rhythm of a hibernating bear.  Left to my own devices I will sleep nine hours a night.  Nine hours.  That’s more than one-third of every day (take that, college math class)!  I’ve tried sleeping less on purpose.  I slept less for many years while nursing babies and caring for young children in the middle of the night.  I’ve slept less for work-related reasons and theater-related reasons and just real-life reasons and I know without a shadow of a doubt that it ends with a sleep-deprived version of myself that is less kind, patient or coherent than the person I strive to be on a daily basis.  Also, it  involves me bursting into tears.  At about 11 pm.  Because I’m so tired.  (Maybe I really do sleep like a baby!)

It doesn’t help when people post articles like this to social media.  Super.  Not only will I never master the banjo but apparently I can also throw away that Mensa application.

I imagine having three extra hours in my day to write or read or binge watch The Gilmore Girls and it sounds decadent.  And the idea of those three extra hours being in the middle of the night would be icing on the cake in this season of my life when alone time is hard to come by.   Just me and a scarf I’m knitting,  hanging out at Luke’s Diner?   Yes, please. 

Sometimes, I just go for it.  I pretend I can handle it and I stay up way too late and drink way too much coffee the next day, and sometimes, it’s fine.  Then the next night I think, “Hey, I’m basically a super sleeper now!  I'm going to paint my basement and learn German!” and I stay up again, but the next morning it’s less fine.  By the third morning, I’ve brought on my own migraine and I’m angry, both at myself, and at all you other people who stayed up all night being all brilliant without consequence.  In fact, it’s nearing 11 pm right now and I’m quickly approaching the point of no return.  Do I turn on El Internado, the juicy telenovela my wonderful friend and former Spanish teacher just recommended or do I wrap this up and go to sleep?  

I’m choosing sleep.  This time.  Sleep with a side of envy.  Buenas noches.

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