Wednesday, July 26, 2006
(9:33 AM) | Adam Kotsko:
Sleep for Dummies
And thus spoke the sage:I tend to sleep a lot -- at least eight hours, and often nine. Sometimes it seems "invigorating" to get up much earlier than usual or stay up much later, but reality sets in pretty quickly.
"Honor sleep and be bashful before it--that first of all. And avoid all who sleep badly and stay awake at night. Even the thief is bashful before sleep: he always steals silently through the night. Shameless, however, is the watchman of the night; shamelessly he carries his horn.
"Sleeping is no mean art: for its sake one must stay awake all day..."
--Thus Spoke Zarathustra
I suspect that my exhorbitant sleep patterns might help me as a student. I slept like a maniac my freshman year of college, grabbing and clutching at every possible second of sleep, skipping classes to sleep. I was carrying a 4.0 up until I had a class that met at 7:30am. Now I tell people that it's very important just to cram as much as possible into your head and let your mind take care of arranging it behind your back. That strategy doesn't seem possible for people who don't sleep enough. If you're going to rely on the unconscious as much as I do, you have to give it time to work.
There was a time when I thought that becoming an "early riser" was necessary, but I have started to come up against what seem to be physical limitations of what I can do. In the past, I would've worried that this was pure delusion and excuse-making, but now I realize that the worrying takes up a lot of energy -- it "counts" in the overall total of what I can do in a day or a week. I'm not going to criticize worry and self-loathing -- they've given me the opportunity to write some really nice little autobiographical self-pitying essays. That genre is pretty played out now, though.
Within a couple weeks, I'm apparently going to be getting the page proofs for my first print publication. It's an essay that I wrote during the time when Richard and Kari were moving out of the house in Bourbonnais -- I didn't help them, because I had to write this essay. I came back from work one day to find that they were gone and that I didn't have a garbage can, a spatula, etc. I went to bed early that night.
I've been having nostalgia lately for that first semester at CTS, the crazy commuting schedule, the weird job. Every part of my life has a presumptive right to become the object of nostalgia, simply by virtue of being the past -- except probably my senior year of high school. I was trying to do too much, with school, band, work (sometimes until 11:30 at night). At one point, I had something like a nervous breakdown and missed more than a week of school. They thought it was mono, but all the blood tests came back negative. Looking back, it was probably just lack of sleep -- maybe if I'd just been able to feel more fully rested, that senior year wouldn't have been so stressful and so full of conflict with my parents. Now when I visit home, I always sleep in very, very late, and my parents never wake me up -- as if they've figured it out, too.