Friday, January 26, 2018

A Mysterious Bedtime Story

Sleep fascinates me. One of the most enjoyable moments of my day is when I crawl under the covers, fluff up the pillow, grab a good book off my nightstand, and then read approximately seven words before I lapse into a deep unconsciousness and start snoring like Fred Flintstone, complete with window curtains being sucked one way and blown back the other way.

If this is one of the most enjoyable moments of my day, it means either I really love sleeping, or I have an incredibly boring life. Now, of course, it’s not that my life is boring. My life is jam-packed with excitement and fun. For example, I often, uh, let’s see, I regularly, umm….OK, fine. My life is boring. But I still love to sleep.

The thing I find most fascinating about sleep is the fact that despite decades of high-tech scientific research, we still have no clue as to WHY we sleep. Researchers have uncovered many amazing details about the sleep process. When we are asleep, our brains are busy little beehives of chemical and electrical activity. For example, while asleep, my brain often shows movies, starring me, which is very cool, except for the one where I’m about to give a presentation but I can’t find my notes, and then I realize I forgot to wear pants.

However, when those brilliant researchers and scientists are asked a simple question — Why do we sleep? — they shrug their shoulders and say, “I dunno.”

It’s not that sleep is a minor aspect of our lives. Human beings spend approximately one third of our existence asleep. This means that I have spent a full 20 years of my life totally incapacitated and oblivious to my surroundings. (Go ahead, say it: “And don’t forget to add in all the time you were asleep, too, Bill!”)

Although sleeping is one of my most enjoyable hobbies, I actually only enjoy the first few minutes, when I snuggle under the warm covers and then drift off. After drifting off, I don’t particularly enjoy all the other hours of sleep because, well, because I’m unconscious. If I could enjoy the cozy drifting off aspect of sleep and then immediately wake up refreshed and ready to go, I’d still enjoy the fun parts of sleeping without wasting so much time.

Occasionally I meet people who insist they can get along fine with only three or four hours of sleep each night. Can you imagine that? If you need only four hours of sleep per night, it’s like having an extra two months of consciousness squeezed into each and every year, but without having to make two additional mortgage payments! Nice.

If I had that much extra time each day, I could do so many special things with it. I could take on more assignments at work, or at least finish the ones I have on time. No, wait. I already work too much as it is. I don’t want any more assignments.

I could spend more time watching television. No, wait. I already watch too much television as it is. There’s nothing good on anyway. I could do more traveling and sight-seeing. No, wait. Those are expensive activities, so I’d have to work more to get extra money, and then I’d no longer have the extra time to travel.

I could do more projects around my house and yard. No, wait. I hate doing that stuff. I’d rather take on more assignments at work. 

Well, now that I think about it, if I had an extra four hours of free time each day, I probably would spend that time doing one of the most fascinating things there is: sleeping.

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