Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

A friend said this the other day, and as usual, I felt the familiar guilt. I am one of those unwilling to give up sleep for other "more important" things. Ever since I read the passage in Proverbs 6: “How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest -- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man,” I have had a sense that perhaps I was not holding up my end of things. 
I don’t want to be poor, and I don’t want to be a sluggard, but dammit, I NEED MY SLEEP! I’m one of those folks that gets nauseous and sick when I’m sleep-deprived, and yet there are so many people I know: 1) those who survive, reluctantly, on 5-6 hours a night; 2) young parents, never able to get more than a few hours at a time; 3) those who just don’t seem to need more than 4 hours a night and that means YOU, Ken, you damn freak. All of this conspires to add to my sense of guilt for not being one of those folks who get up at the crack o’ dawn and “go for a run” before breakfast and the morning paper. Perhaps, I think, I would actually go to the gym every day… spend time in meditation and prayer… make a lunch for the day and start dinner in the Crock-Pot… if only I could get up at 5!

Instead, on most mornings, I get up at 7… so I can lounge in bed and slowly awake while watching last night’s rerun of The West Wing (how I lurve you Bradley Whitford & Rob Lowe!) until 8. I feel very bad about this, I assure you. But you know, I am usually in a good mood as a result. One should not underestimate the benefits of a Good Mood.

So, back to my friend and her comment. She’s in a tough job, starting at the bottom to work her way up, and the company LOOOOVES to see how much they can push you before rewarding you with a pitiful salary and job insecurity and the dubious cachet of a line on your resume that doesn’t always pay off as it should. If she sticks it out, she will officially be one of those Go-Getters who can be anything she wants to be. But how much fun is she having as a result? Maybe she has a nice low-sleep threshold, but what if she doesn’t, and just gets by on coffee? What is the quality of her life then?

If you go through every day of your life except maybe weekends feeling tired & run down, WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE of living that kind of life? Sure, it implies you've got a character with moxie, gusto, competetiveness, worthy of joinging The Trump Organization… but is it any fun? Do you like working when you just want to lie down and sleep? Does your brain work well under those conditions? Are you performing at your best? (Now, this diatribe only applies to those who choose to sleep less so they can do more… new parents are exempt, since we all know they’d like more sleep, since that’s what they’re always telling us, sensible and weary people that they are.)

Anyway, I had an epiphany a few days ago, and the guilt lifted when I realized that the QUALITY of my life was (partially) dependent on sufficient sleep. The implied virtue of those who deprive themselves of sleep in order to get ahead no longer hangs over me, Hallelujah! I am now free to sleep my 7-8 hours and know that in it’s own way, Sleep is my Gym, my Healthy Diet, my Positive Attitude.

No comments: