Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dear Morpheus

by Jean Roberta

It’s a good thing I don’t know anyone who sells crystal meth, the stimulant that can apparently enable a person to stay awake for days. (But on that note, my two stepsons are musicians who sometimes d.j. in nightclubs, so they are probably less than six degrees of separation away from someone who sells every consciousness-altering substance there is. I’m just saying.)

The older I get, the more I love sleep. Unfortunately, sleep interferes with all the other things I need or want to do. Teaching, meeting with students after class and grading assignments all have to take priority over activities that don’t pay, but writing feels necessary too, especially since teaching is a hit-and-miss activity: not all students seem to gain anything from the classes I teach, and those who do might have been able to educate themselves without my help.

There are never enough hours in a day, and I always seem to be running behind. This is why sleep seems like a guilty pleasure.

I sometimes tell myself that sleep is good for my writing because the images I bring back to consciousness from the land of dreams can be inspiring. Part of my mind doesn’t buy this, since I shouldn’t have to sleep to exercise my imagination. And thinking of exercise, wouldn’t it be good for me to find time for zumba, yoga, or a fitness class?

If I didn’t indulge in at least eight hours of sleep per night, I might lose weight. (Of course, as has been mentioned, this is not always a sign of good health.) How can I justify sleeping when a local election is coming soon? I should be going door-to-door, circulating pamphlets and pep talks for the political party of my choice.

On the other hand, sleep is hard to resist, especially when my sweetie is beside me, and we are surrounded by three purring cats and a little dog. Sweetie agrees with me that hibernation sounds very appealing, especially on cold days in winter. Usually we seem to perk up in spring (and the weather has been very spring-like lately), but we still like to spend much time in bed on weekends, not having marathon sex.

Well, I’m awake now. I can probably soldier on until it’s bedtime again.


  1. Sleep is definitely necessary. Get it when you can. Sleep is a guilty pleasure for me because I can't get stay asleep long enough even when I have the time, so I resort to questionable measures like antihistamines (half a pill works for a while) and a prescription anti-anxiety med (a quarter of a pill gets me another hour and a half or so of sleep.) Chamomile tea works a bit, but briefly. The guilt is because both antihistamines and the prescription med used for sleep have apparently been shown to increase the chances of later dementia. Chamomile and similar herbs may well do the same thing, but as far as I know nobody has run tests. Slowing down the "racing mind" thing to let you sleep may well damage the mind--but so does lack of sleep. Sigh.

  2. I hope you enjoy your sleep! I hear it's necessary. :)

    Though I always liked the Ani DiFranco lyric: "Sleep is like a fever. I'm glad when it ends." I have a lot of feelings about the things I could be doing instead of sleeping. But I think that comes from a fascination with the sort of time one would have if so much of it wasn't taken up by lying unconscious. So I try to accept the need for sleep and embrace it, though I do have a lot of trouble falling and staying asleep myself.

  3. It's really not possible to function without adequate sleep. So if you deprive yourself, you're going to be less, not more effective in tackling the other things you think you "should" be doing.

    Furthermore, individuals differ in how much sleep they need, and the amount you need can change as you get older.

    Trust your body. If it tells you it needs to sleep, that's probably the truth.

    Anyway, it's hard to imagine an activity that's less harmful to you, to other people or to the environment! Why not enjoy it?

  4. Thanks for commenting, all. I think the reason I feel guilty and self-indulgent when I get a lot of sleep is because (like food) sleep comes in portions. Could I get away with 7 hours per night and still be healthy? But even if I really need 8 hours per night, I sometimes take more than that on weekends. When I'm rising up out of the depths of unconsciousness to put on my everyday persona, I usually have an argument with myself: "Just a few minutes more! "But I have so much to do!"


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