Tag Archives: Sleep

Waking Up

If you’re reading this, you woke up today.

If you’re reading this, but didn’t wake up, please contact me immediately. I’d like to ghostwrite your best seller.

Waking up has changed since our childhood years. Do you remember when you and Teddy jumped on your parents’ bed to help them celebrate morning?

Later, Mom wreaked vengeance by dragging us out of bed for school, scrubbing our ears and necks before we escaped her clutches.

People have been awakening us ever since.

At college, I assumed I would decree my wake-up time. My dorm, however, housed 500 girls, all armed with high-voltage stereos and supersonic hairdryers. Exercise classes met outside my room — at 1 a.m.

Those years prepared me for apartment life.

“Someday, I’ll own my own house,” I said. “No more party animals. No more percussion teachers upstairs.”

My husband and I did buy a house — and filled it with babies, aka, screaming meanies allergic to sleep. Especially ours.

Not content with that, Hubby delivered babies — and took care of sick people. I frequently awoke to discussions of blood sugar readings and stool reports. And advice on how to kick insomnia.

Occasionally, I slept through his wee-hour departures. His returns? Not so much. Most sleepers might awaken if a shadowy guy joined them in bed at 2 a.m. — particularly if his body temperature equaled an arctic seal’s. If he was tall, thin, and bearded, though, I turned over and dozed off. If short, fat, and/or clean-shaven — Houston, we had a problem.

While Hubby cannot claim my levels of martyrdom, he occasionally lets me awaken him for less compelling reasons, e.g., suspicious sounds in the laundry room at 4:30 a.m. I demanded he defend our dirty socks with his life.

One night, in a hotel room, I awoke, convinced Communists were monitoring us through the sprinkling system.

He also insists my snoring awakens him, but he’s upping my stats so his don’t look bad.

My brother has long been the family mischief maker.

However, neither of us will ever achieve my brother’s dastardly wake-up call. During a solo visit, he had buttered me up with a wonderful meal, fascinating tales of his Middle Eastern service, and (!) chocolates. Such behavior should have roused deepest suspicions. Instead, I thought he finally had grown up.

That night, I savored dreamless sleep — until the enormous clock in my room lit up like a carnival ride. An Arab voice belted out a call to prayer that probably awakened Atlanta.

I thought Judgment Day had arrived.

Eventually, I realized it had not yet come for me. But Judgment Day came for him.

Little Brother, if you’re reading this, my offer to ghostwrite your best seller still stands.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What is your least favorite way to wake up?

Rest Revolution

This radical confession could create cultural schisms the size of the Grand Canyon. But I believe in honesty when dealing with my readers, so here goes:

I take naps.        

Oh, I know some confess to sneaky snoozes on weekends. I mean daily naps during the week, when employees buzz around workloads like frantic worker bees.

“No wonder you take naps. You’re a writer,” critics point out. “What else could we expect of a degenerate who talks to imaginary people and spends half her waking hours in jammies?”

I resemble that remark. But in defense of jammies, real waistbands stifle creativity.

Back to the nap issue. Is it so difficult to believe a short rest empowers workers? In a word, yes. Anti-nap propaganda has programmed us for decades. As a college student, I never considered naps an option, not even when my then-boyfriend, now-husband, claimed I’d turned 200 pages of my zoology book, my eyes closed.

As a young office worker, I sneaked to a back room at noon and closed the drapes so no one knew I was sleeping. You would have thought I was conducting drug deals. Naps, even during breaks, make supervisors nervous. Just because my boss once tripped over my prostrate form … He recovered nicely after cardio rehab.

Like others, I have fought illegal slumber with coffees, colas and energy drinks that could substitute for rocket fuel. Some misguided souls believe noontime exercise generates energy. Since when does energy output increase energy input? They obviously have never chased after two-year-olds.

Efficient work policies include power naps, which promote employee health and safety. Alert employees are less likely to fall out of their chairs, catch their noses in machinery or flush themselves. They provide faster, friendlier service and make fewer mistakes. Studies have shown that teachers permitted a brief daily collapse are less likely to leave the country after the second day of school. Only three percent of air flight controllers who nap direct pilots to park behind McDonald’s.

Still, old attitudes are difficult to change. Decades passed before my breakthrough. One day, having dozed off, I awoke at my laptop to discover my fingers had purchased 307 Pampered Chef ice cream dippers.

I ejected from the computer, set my cell phone alarm and crashed.

A 45-minute, preventative nap could have saved my relatives the prospect of ice cream dipper gifts every Christmas until 2037.

“But I can’t fall asleep in 45 minutes!” some protest. Soothing music, accompanied by fake waterfalls and synthesized bird twitters, often prove effective. Other daytime insomniacs use power-of-suggestion downloads. I, however, find nothing works like the Lacrosse Channel or Bonanza reruns.

Speaking of Bonanza, the opening music has begun. Grab your blanky. Take a stand — er, sofa. Snuggle down, close your eyes and join the power nap revolution that … will change the … world … zzzzzzzzz.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a rest revolutionary?

Morning Vs. Night People

Two kinds of people coexist in this world: morning people and night people. Night people don’t officially breathe until noon. Morning people stop breathing at 10:00 p.m. Or earlier.

During peak energy hours, both can conquer their respective worlds. During lethargy hours, they also conquer those worlds, but they require coffee. Oxygen. And a spouse/parent/boss wielding a high-voltage cattle prod.

All toddlers and preschoolers are morning people. Their shiny inner weaponry systems launch them from bed at the crack of dawn. They will begin search and destroy missions unless intercepted with a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.®

 Fortunately, they retire early, which explains why the human race has survived.

The lone exception: if a parent must reach a destination before 8:00 a.m. Then little ones portend the future when, as comatose teenaged princesses, they won’t awaken if 10 Prince Charmings appear; or, as hairy 17-year-olds, they must be spatulaed from their beds.

I, an oddball teen, retained my morning person habits. As a college student, however, I had to change my ways.

Even my boyfriend, Steve, who shared my staunch early-to-bed-early-to-rise background, joyously embraced night-person status. I attempted staying awake till midnight. According to Steve, I learned new study skills, including turning pages for hours while dead asleep. When our weekend Bible study group partied, I never lasted through a game of Monopoly. Dragged to a quiet corner, I snoozed until awakened for breakfast.

Regardless, I, a dedicated music student, hit the practice rooms by 8 a.m. Afterward, I phoned my boyfriend.

Groggily, he asked, “Did I miss breakfast?”

“You missed lunch.”

“Oh.” Then, “You want to get something to eat?”

I’d already eaten twice. But if the early bird got the worm, pecan pie proved a satisfactory substitute.

After marriage, a studio apartment, medical school/practice and new babies helped us cope with our incompatibility. We no longer categorized ourselves as morning or night people. We mostly were exhausted.

Fast forward a few decades. Steve has slipped into old patterns, staying up to finish compelling books or ball games. He occasionally sleeps in, wrapped in blankets like a giant burrito. I confess to adopting his stay-in-bed vice during dark, arctic months.

But soon, dew-fresh spring mornings will arrive. I’ll run outside early to welcome delicious fragrances wafting from earth, trees and flowers. Most birds are morning people, too, singing their best concerts at dawn. On days like that, how could I be anything else?

Which do you do better, mornings or nights?