Tag Archives: sleep

What It’s Like to Not Get Enough Sleep: Then vs. Now

wow tired.

wow tired.

When I was younger, sleep was stupid. It seemed pointless, an inexplicable wet blanket forever dampening the fun of living. The less I slept, the better. Middle school sleepovers were judged solely on how late I stayed up.

High school parties (which for me mostly consisted of Apples to Apples) were only cool if they went past twelve o’clock. Staying up all night was something to aspire to. In college I got as little sleep as possible and averaged 5 or 6 and a half hours of sleep a night, not including the all-nighters I would pull during finals week.

I remember the smell of my own musk coming from my armpit one early morning in the library. Instead of being disgusted with my state, I thought only of how noble and inspiring my struggle was against the clock and my own biological necessities.

Sure, sometimes I didn’t feel great the next day. I would see black specks or forget simple things and have digestion problems, but those all went away with just one conversation with a hot guy. Then, the vigor of life would course through my veins and my body would forget all about the eight hours I spent pacing in the study hall. Sometimes, in fact, I felt like my skills were sharpened by the lack of sleep. I felt funnier, more inventive, less inhibited. I felt invincible.

Times have changed. Last night I got only six and a half hours of sleep. In college, that would have been more than enough to fuel a day of doodling in class and meals with friends, but my body is not my college body and my mind is not my college mind. Colors seem pale in a world full of ash. Nothing is easy. Sentences are hard to form and usually the words get mixed up in my head before they come out and then there’s only a small chance they make any sense.

Talking to new humans is an almost impossible task, as is any kind of ambition or self-discipline. I think of eating chips and ice cream. My dreams of achieving my dreams seem laughable. Distances have multiplied between familiar places and all around in my brain there is a thick fog, denser even than the fog that covers San Francisco at this very moment. There is no triumph here, nothing noble or satisfying about denying myself the rest my body clearly needs.

Instead of pride, I feel shame. How could I have done this to myself? What damage have I done to this earthly vessel and to others by leaving the house without proper rest? Surely great evil has come about in the world because people have not and are not sleeping enough. Surely I have done a great evil by doing this.

This is not living. No – this is purgatory, a state similar to life but devoid of everything that brings it color and meaning and it is no substitute.

I’ve learned much in my post-college years about what is true and what isn’t true. Sleep is a true thing. Therefore, let us raise our glasses and our pillows in a solemn toast to fight the good fight against sleep theft and get the winks our bodies need and deserve.

 

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How an Overachieving Work Monger Learned the Benefit of a Good Nap

staged napping photo

staged napping photo

I’m staying at a friend’s co-op which is unsurprisingly full of long haired hippie types with slow eyed dreams. Despite the fact I’m also pursuing an “alternative” career as opposed to something in office dronery, I’m still skeptical of those who dream of nothing more than working on a farm for six months out of the year and going south to roost with the birds come October.

Where’s the ambition? Where’s the love of early mornings and hard work? Where’s the drive to produce every single moment of the day and have a list of goals hanging from the wall and over your head that you must accomplish or suffer failure?

To me, even travel can and should be considered work, which I love. If I’m successful at the work of travel, I go out and see a great many things, write a good many blog posts and thoughts, draw a picture, talk to a stranger and spend little money. I fail by staying in bed and being lazy. Being lazy must be avoided at all costs.

I’ve always felt righteous about my overbearing work ethic, which has often stressed me out and caused me to spend too much time working on things that didn’t matter as opposed to relaxing with friends. In fact, I hate the very word relax. It offends me. I don’t want to relax. I want to learn, to work, to be productive, to produce, to experience, etc. etc. It’s exhausting.

When one of these hippie types pulled out a book two days ago called “How to be Idle,” by Tom Hodgkinson, I nearly vomited in my quinoa. Could there be anything more disgusting than a book dedicated to laziness and encouraging these kinds of people who needed nothing more than a swift kick in the ass? I scoffed at the very idea of it.

Then, minutes later, I picked it up. I started reading the first chapter “8 a.m.: Waking up is hard to do.” And within a couple more minutes I was hooked. I saw my life and culture in a completely different light. The emphasis on productivity hasn’t served me but my corporate overlords. Busyness is a cult that degrades our quality of life, our freedom, and the ability to reflect on and live contemplative existences.

Though I don’t agree with Hodgkinson completely on everything about the idler lifestyle, I did suddenly realize that my relentless focus on production is not productive. Boom. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve not finished the book, but it has been interesting to hear this man’s thoughts on how our culture of work conspires to keep us chained to our desks, away from home, and most of all, to keep us from thinking.

In honor of my newfound appreciate for idleness, I took a nap and spent five hours today in a cafe merely reflecting. It was certainly time well spent.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book so far: 

On working long hours and doing nothing: 

“After all, aren’t modern companies always saying how much they value creativity and innovation? How much they need ideas? Perhaps the truth is rather sadder, that they actually value steadfastness, application and your bum being on your revolving seat for as many hours in the day as you can stand.”

On the culture that rejects illness and taking any time off for it: 

“Drug companies make vast profits out of magic beans which promise to deliver us from torment and return us to the desk.”

On napping: 

“Don’t think that you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more.” – Winston Churchill

“Employers would rather you put in four hours of sitting and accomplishing nothing than an hour’s nap, clothes or otherwise, followed by three hours of productive toil.”

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The Adventures of Dreamily

Arabic dreams are the most frightful of all

Late at night when I’m a-slumber, Dreamily traipses through the land of nod and discovers many strange and wonderful things and writes them all down in her little notebook. But when I awake, Dreamily has already left long ago with her little notebook and I never can know exactly what she saw.

That’s why I had to start following her on twitter, because she’s a fairly diligent tweeter/instagramer, and man this stuff she sees is weird. Last night, at 1:30 am she tweeted that she saw a full-grown man wearing a Winnie-the-Pooh costume eating pie with his hands on a deserted playground and that she wept but then he turned into a huge baby the size of king kong who wanted her to pick it up so she screamed and ran away.

And then at 3:03am she tweeted a picture of a swamp full of dragon flies with human faces that had gotten stuck from watching the television too close.

At 5:34, she was prowling around someone’s house in Kansas on the night a storm was brewing and a little boy was sitting alone in the kitchen next to the stove with a kettle on it. A door was squeaking somewhere.

6:49 found her interviewing for a job she was completely unqualified for at a techie startup where no one realizes they all have horrible body odor and then suddenly she finds that she’s the stinky one and is mortified but can’t remember which person is her interviewer to ask to leave and go take a shower.

After reading her twitter feed, I usually decide it’s for the best that I don’t remember everything Dreamily sees or does. At least I’m not missing out on any magical feasts.

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Can Naps Be Meaningful?

I’m having a nightmare about Arabic.

I love napping an unusual amount. When I think of high school and college, some of the sweetest memories that come rushing over me are of lazy afternoons when I came home to an empty house or apartment and threw myself into the soft arms of a delicious nap.

Even though I know better, I still tell the very un-riveting story of my best high school nap.

Class ended at 1:30 and by 1:35 I’d started the long walk across the parking lot to my car. Rain was on the way. During school I’d heard the thunder muttering and grumbling in the east. The sky was an angry color, turning the late afternoon into an other worldly something between night and day. Before I reached the car, I felt thick, warm drops on my face and soon it was dumping rain. I ran but it was too late and I was already soaked by the time I reached shelter inside my noble Ford Taurus.

In the pouring rain, I drove home as fast as I could and sprinted across the lawn into my empty house. Quickly, I changed into a long sleeved t-shirt and sweatpants, lay down on the couch, and fell into one of the best naps of my life. Something about the contrast between the warm interior and the harsh, wet exterior and the gentle darkness that filled my house and the feeling of shelter against nature’s wrath made it an important nap for me, one that I (obviously) still remember with fondness.

For me, the ideal interaction with nature is a nap. When I see majestic vistas, crystal waterfalls, or white desert landscapes filled with watery moonlight, I fantasize about curling up and falling asleep, embraced by nature itself. I imagine a soft green bed beneath a willow tree, the earth all dappled with late afternoon sunlight coming in from over the mountains. I would lay down in my sleep and become a part of the place itself and my being would meld with the trees and the earth and the light.

In my mind, the nap would take on a deeper meaning and become a spiritual experience. Yet I have found that no matter how deep I sleep and no matter how peaceful or well rested I feel upon awaking, my naps are just naps, little sleeps enriching my day before I enter the big sleep and then the biggest sleep. I believe the spiritual disciplines of trances and meditation have come from the deeply human desire for spiritual slumber. Perhaps one of these days I will try those methods, but until then I will keep on napping and never stop.

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So You Want to Take a Nap in the Student Lounge

This could be you, minus the shoes

You stayed up late last night even though it was a school night. All signs point to an extreme deficit of z-power: your body has forgotten how to digest food, speech is difficult, and you feel like you’ve drunk unicorn blood and are only half-alive. At school, all you can think about is how close to death you feel even as the end of class seems so far away. Despite your best efforts, it appears that no amount of doodling will save you from dozing off in class in front of your less sleepy colleagues.

Fear not. You have a 45 minute break coming up right at 12:00, and you know exactly what you must do. It’s time to get your student-lounge nap on. A nap in the student lounge is a great way to wrinkle your shirt and put creases on your face while also being refreshed by much needed REM sleep. Here ‘s some advice about how you can make your student lounge nap a positive experience for yourself and those around you.

a. Remember that you will be stared at. With this in mind, try to sleep in a funny position in order to further the laughter that will be had at your expense. If going with the flow doesn’t appeal to you, you could put a bag over your face or write a polite note that says “I can see you too.” Generally people like concise, terse notes.

b. Be as suspicious as possible about your nap. Though you are not ashamed of the fact you are napping in a public location, do not mention it to anyone and lie if anyone asks you what you’re doing. Disguise your nap by setting up a magazine, book, or scroll in such a position that you could be reading it. This step is especially helpful for fooling people from behind.

c. Take your shoes off. If you’re comfortable, everyone else is comfortable. People love nothing more than seeing bare feet on public furniture.

d. Set an alarm. If you’re really serious about napping, this is a step that can’t be missed. The alternative is either sleeping through class, or waking up to an acquaintance poking you as you hurry to brush the drool off your face before getting up groggily and then going to class where you say wildly inappropriate things because of your sleepy stupor.

e. Don’t forget that it’s okay to drool, snore, twitch, babble, sleep stalk, and sleep steal. Do everything you would normally do at home or in the doctor’s office. Your colleagues should accept you for who you are, especially in the human state that most closely resembles death.

f. If you have dreams, tell everyone about them. Dreams are great conversation starters, and they will be especially interesting for people who were not necessarily in your dream, but in the same room as you while you were dreaming.

g. Last but not least: have fun! Make this naptime yours! Personalize it! Bring a little nap kit next time or tiny commemorative pillows for everyone who was there! If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry! There is no doubt you will be foolish enough to stay up to the wee hours of the morning for no good reason on a school night again.

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