Sleep and I haven’t been the best of friends lately.
Try as I might to get a solid 8 hours a night in, I just can’t seem to make it happen. I’ve tried going to bed early, but end up just lying awake for hours, stressing about everything from my hair, to work, to Amanda Bynes still being on the roads.
Other times I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to fall back asleep, wishing I only had an unlimited supply of cheesecake and 3 octogenarian roommates to keep me company.
To top it all off, there’s the fact that I’m crazy and like to wake up at 5:45 am in order to blog and go for a run before work in the mornings, no matter how tired I am. For some reason I get this sick satisfaction out of having a lot of stuff done pre-9am.
I think I get this from my mother, who at 63 years
old young, is the most hyperactive human being I have ever encountered. She wakes up at 6am every day for no identifiable reason, and by 9am has already read the paper, gone for a walk, vacuumed the entire house and alphabetized her Ladies Home Journal collection. Seriously. Every time I talk to the woman I’m convinced she has taken a hit of speed immediately beforehand.
Anyway, back to me. Between all of these late nights and early mornings, for the past few months, I have only been averaging about 5 hours of sleep a night. And while with the aid of caffeine, I have been able to function relatively OK, I’m beginning to think that his lack of sleep is catching up with me.
Friday night, for example, I fell asleep watching Ex-Wives of Rock (I like to think of my life as one, big cautionary tale for others) , and slept for 12 hours straight. It felt amazing, but it also kind of freaked me out. Obviously my body was trying to tell me something, and put itself into auto-pilot to capture those precious moments of sleep I had been missing out on.
I remembered learning in middle school that every cigarette you smoke takes 5 minutes off your life. Did each lost hour of sleep have the same effect, I wondered. Because if so, at this rate i might die before I’m 30.
Troubled, I did a little google searching and discovered that “sleep debt”, the cumulative effect of lack of sleep, is a legitimate thing. Apparently losing an hour of sleep every night for consecutive nights can have the same effect on you as pulling all-nighters, and can lead to everything from weight gain and drowsiness to the zombie apocalypse.
I also read an article that suggested that North Americans today get one less hour of sleep a night on average than 20-30 years ago. This is due in part to our access to 24 hour entertainment and increased caffeine consumption, and also the fact that we bring tvs, computers and cell phones into the bedroom with us. All of these glowing screens can actually inhibit the release of melatonin to your brain, rendering falling asleep more difficult.
Studies suggest that while you can make up for some of your lost sleep on the weekends, you can never really pay back sleep debt entirely.
This makes me uncomfortable for a few reasons. Not only am I concerned for my overall health, I also just don’t like the idea of having a debt outstanding in the universe. You see, I sort of believe that everything in life should run at an equilibrium. Yin and Yang and all that.
Take Karma, for example. I don’t want karma somehow interfering in my life in an unwanted way, and so am forever preoccupied with my karmic score. When I do something bad (i.e. run a karmic deficit) I must do something good to even things out. The same goes for a karmic surplus. Nothing good ever came from being too virtuous… just ask Mother Theresa. She died, man.
Sleep is sort of the same idea. The rules say you should get 8 hours a night, and when you don’t, you’re ripping off the sand-man.
I don’t know much about the Sandman, but from what I do know, I don’t think he can be trusted. Any dude who is based on Soviet Folklore and sprinkles sh*t in people’s eyes when they’re sleeping sounds like trouble to me. I mean look at him, he even looks nefarious:
I can imagine that when homeboy gets pissed off, he can be pretty unforgiving. Like, what if he tries to get back at me by putting me into a 7-year coma? Or what if he’s like an evil, reverse Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, and robs me or takes back all of last year’s Christmas presents while I’m sleeping? Or maybe he’ll just channel James Hetfield and haunt my dreams by screaming Metallica songs in my ear all night.
I don’t know, man, but I don’t wanna stick around to find out. Time to go start counting some sheep, stat.