The Science of Sleep *

For the first time in…forever?…I’m experiencing a glorious phenomenon that, for lack of a better descriptive word, I’ll call sleep.

No! I’m for serious! Until now, all sleep I’ve experienced has been but a hologram–the mere appearance of sleep and rest. At an appointed time, generally when I arbitrarily decided it was “time for bed,” I would go through the motions of my nightly routine (not literally, as going through the motions of brushing one’s teeth does not prove to be as effective against plaque and cavities as the actual act of doing so**), climb under the covers, close my eyes, and lay there, willing sleep to come. And it does, usually pretty quickly (always pitied those who took an hour or more to actually fall asleep). And, like clockwork, I wake up 2, 3, maybe 4 times during the night. This has happened since I was a kid, and I never thought it was abnormal (until Lindsay Wagner Told Me Otherwise). I wake up, look at the clock, roll over, fall back asleep. When I wake up the next morning, I can generally remember what time this occurred (1:23, 3:37, 5:18–or, more freakily and disconcertingly often– 2:00, 4:00, 6:00). I woke up, hit “Nap” (Snoozing is for pussies) until I’ve systematically eliminated usually-necessary morning activities (shower, breakfast, coffee, peeing, matching my clothes, etc;). 

And yet–AND YET–this routine was starting to get old. For starts, I actually like waking up early. I like having enough time to shower and have breakfast and drink a cup of coffee while I watch old reruns of The West Wing  on Bravo. This is enjoyable to me. And staying in bed until 7:48 when I need to be in my office at 8:00 makes this type of enjoyment impossible. 

In a seemingly-unrelated-yet-wondrously-connected tangent, I made a recent trip to Borders where I dropped a hefty sum (as I always, always do). So, so eager to dig into my findings, I finally cleared all of the worn-just-once-so-it’s-not-technically-dirty-but-I-don’t-want-to-put-them-back-in-my-dresser-for-some-reason clothing from the recliner in my bedroom and curled up with a book (you bet your ass I was wearing my Snuggie) one evening. I read until I was yawning, and tired, so I climbed (literally–it’s a high bed) into bed and fell fast asleep. And when my alarm woke me the next morning, I only pressed “Nap” once. I woke up, properly bathed myself, and sat in the same chair as I sipped my morning Joe and enjoyed the witty banter of Jed Bartlet and his quirky staff. 

And repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

Gradually, the intense love affair that I’ve shared with my bed lost some of its strength. I find myself not waking up in the middle of the night nearly as many times as before. And I get up when my alarm goes off! (Okay, I still press “Nap” but not nearly as many times as before!). My goal now is to get up out of bed–are you ready for this?–When my alarm goes off for the first time (!!!!). For the first time in my 26 years of existence, I am able to see the rejuvenating effects of sleep. It’s not just something to do when all the good TV shows are over or I don’t feel like being productive anymore! It has a purpose! And that purpose is Good!

Thank you, Lindsay Wagner, for opening mine eyes.



*  Trippy movie, though I’ve not seen it all the way through. Guess I’ll add that to my Netflix queue.

** For the record, “Nobody can pantomime brushing teeth like [I] can.” This is an almost-direct quote from a high school yearbook, written by an acquaintance with whom I took Actor’s Studio I. More on that disaster, and the related Children’s Theatre fiasco, in another post.

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