Sleepless In Sioux Falls

Story #1

People spend a lot of time freaking out about sleep. There was a time in my life when sleep was a big no-no. Famous people boasted about how little sleep they needed and what a waste of time it was. I remember a comedian saying he slept only about four hours a night with a quick catnap. “I need a nap? I take two rolls of quarters and lay back on an armchair with two pie plates under the chair. I hold the rolls of quarters in my hands and doze off, my arms go limp, the quarters fall and hit the pie plates and ‘Bam!’ Nap is over!’” He beamed in triumph. I was sitting at home impressed. Four hours? Wow!

It turned out the same comedian was addicted to cocaine, which I only found out about later and probably had more to do with the catnaps then the pie plates did.

Moral: Pay more attention to what your body says about sleep and less about what other people say.

Story #2

On average, there are about 12 hours of sun to 12 hours of dark. Since the average person needs about eight hours of sleep, for thousands of years there was a four-hour gap between four hour periods of sleep. During the gap, people would get up and pace around, sometimes looking at the stars, sometimes thinking and sometimes writing. This is why we know so much about it. They would refer to their “first sleep” and their “second sleep.” After their first sleep they would wake up and jot down some ideas or thoughts or perspectives. Many of the world’s greatest inventions, poems or musical scores were written down at 2 am. Only after the invention of electricity did the concept of a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep become normal.

Moral: If you wake up at 2 am, write down some stuff for a few minutes, go back to bed and don’t worry about it.

Story #3

Once I woke up at 2 am with zillions of brilliant thoughts racing around my mind. I got up, found a huge piece of paper and started writing down everything. I looked at the list. Huh. Not much there. I went over the list again, looking for strays. Nope. Turned out that the zillions of brilliant, racing thoughts amounted to about three or four. Like preschoolers in the attic, they seemed to be much more numerous. The next morning, I checked the list and laughed. One of my thoughts was to remodel a house we haven’t lived in for 25 years. Two of them were about paying bills (which took two minutes) and the other one was about writing this story. Which I am doing.


Story #4

There is an old trapper’s saying: “The difference between what you will eat and what you won’t eat is 24 hours.”

The difference between a sleepless night under a down comforter and dead-to-the-world with a rock for a pillow is 24 hours. If it isn’t, try again in 24 more hours.

Moral: Don’t worry about it ?

Story #5

I remember seeing a movie about nomadic peoples who lived thousands of years ago. They wedged themselves into the crotch of a tree 20 feet above the ground to sleep, hugging a branch so the wolves wouldn’t eat them. Yikes.

Moral: You are in a closed, temperature-controlled room, that is free from carnivores, on a supportive, foam, rock-less, branchless mattress with a fluffy pillow and plenty of clean, fresh, flea-less soft downy blankets. Don’t worry about it ?