Sleep: Oh How I Love Thee, Oh How I Miss Thee


This post is about sleep because every waking moment during the last week when I wasn’t thinking about food, I was thinking about sleep. It may have something to do with the fact that I haven’t gotten a decent amount of sleep on a weeknight for over a month.

I can count on one hand the things I think about as often as food, and sleep is right on top of the list. Nothing beats that feeling of waking up naturally, without the alarm interrupting my oasis in a state of unconsciousness. On the flip side, there is nothing I dread more (apart from perhaps the season of spring) than going to bed knowing that I’m going to be prematurely awakened by an evil alarm feature on my otherwise lovable iPhone.

I know people who think sleep is a waste of time. I can certainly see where these people are coming from.  It is said that we need an average of eight hours of sleep per day.  If we achieve that level of sleep during the course of our lifetime, it means that we spend a third of our lives sleeping.  It does seem like a tremendously long period of time to be in no better state of mind than being catatonic.

But consider the special feature on Science of Sleep on CBS’ news program, 60 Minutes from a couple years ago.  It reported on how scientific studies are showing that sleep deprivation leads not only to loss of motor skills and cognitive abilities, but also to mood swings, diabetes and death.  As one scientist so convincingly put it, since we, as living creatures, are so vulnerable when we are sleeping, it would be the biggest evolutionary mistake if sleep does not serve some critical function.

For me, that critical function is gratification.  I seek sleep for as long as possible as often as possible, not because I need it, but because I love it.  When it comes to sleep, I show no restraint.

My record for the most amount of uninterrupted sleep occurred during my freshman year in college when I slept for 13 straight hours. By the time I woke up around 4:30 in the afternoon, the sun was already beginning to set because it was winter in Boston. My second thought immediately after waking up was that I managed to miss the beautiful daylight because I slept excessively. The first thought that occurred to me was what a wonderful day I had because I slept right through it.

They say there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, and sadly, that’s true with even sleep.  I’ve discovered that if I sleep for over 11 and a half hours, I begin to suffer from sleep fatigue.  That’s the feeling of being mentally and physically exhausted although the mind is completely sharp. It’s a terrible feeling because both my mind and the body are too tired to be active, yet I’ve already slept too much to sleep off the fatigue.

I’ve been told that it’s not so much the length of the sleep that matters, but the quality.  Putting aside  my desire to always have the longest and deepest sleep possible every single night pursuant to my motto, “Life is not a multiple choice,” I take the point that a deep seven hour sleep is often better than a shallow nine-hour one.

Ever since I learned that dreams come to us during REM sleep, which is apparently when our sleep is the shallowest, I’ve noticed that the mornings in which I vividly recall dreams are those in which I feel rather tired.  And I don’t think it’s solely because of the panic attacks that my dreams have been inducing recently.

As wonderful as sleep is, it’s also awfully inefficient.  My greatest wish these days is for the ability to store extra sleep in reserve so I can tap into it when I can’t get enough of it.  It does indeed seem a little wasteful that, even if I sleep for ten hours each on Friday and Saturday evenings, I still feel exhausted and incoherent on the day after a weeknight in which I only got three hours of sleep.

And I’ve been having too many of those nights lately, leading to days in which I walk around like a zombie mumbling, “I’m sleepy, I’m sleepy, I’m sleepy.”  As I write this, though, a rather obvious thought has occurred to me.  If I’ve been that sleepy that often recently, perhaps it would serve me better to simply go to bed rather than write about how wonderful sleep is whenever I do get it.

With that revelation, I bid you good night (and god willing, without dreams).

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1 Response to “Sleep: Oh How I Love Thee, Oh How I Miss Thee”



  1. 1 I Hate Wednesdays | The World According to Joe Trackback on June 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm

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