Sleep - who needs it?
I’ve always been ready for a nap.
During high school, I would sneak into the auditorium during lunch, find a nice quiet spot on the stage behind the curtains, put on my headphones and fall asleep. I knew it was time to wake up when I heard students begin to shuffle into the theater department for their afternoon classes.
My habit for daytime sleep indulgence did not dissipate when I went to college. My freshmen year, I was saddled with an eight o’clock class every morning, Monday through Friday, but I would always make a point to find time for a nap before my next class. When I couldn’t go back to my dorm room because of time limitations, I would explore the campus in search of a solitary location to rest my eyes. I became the master of finding unused classrooms with soft seats, comfortable couches in out-of-the-way locations and even bathrooms where I could sit on a nice clean toilet and take a quick snooze. From the couches of Rudder Hall to the hidden balcony of the MSC to even underneath my desk in The Battalion offices, I took my afternoon naps wherever I could find them during my stint at Texas A&M. My favorite spot, though, was the West Campus library. With soft chairs that you could sink into, a quiet atmosphere perfect for undisturbed slumber and a convenient distance from the majority of my classes, the WCL became my nap destination of choice.
Between classes I would find myself a nice chair, take out a textbook from my backpack so it looked like I was studying and set my cell phone to vibrate an alarm ten minutes before my next lecture. These short breaks were like manna from the sky as far as I’m concerned. Unfortunately, there was the issue of talking in my sleep.
Since I was a child, I’ve been told I spout uncontrollable monologues during the night. From short bursts of nonsense gibberish to soft moans, I make all sorts of noises while I sleep — not the least of which is snoring. Most of the time, though, my naps didn’t put me in such a deep sleep to illicit nocturnal admissions but if I was coming off of a particularly sleepless night all bets were off. I first noticed my bad habit forming when I began to groan in the middle of lectures. Even with my naps, I always had a hard time staying awake during some of the more tedious of subjects. I once slept through an entire semester’s worth of economics classes.
During one particularly uninspiring accounting course, I woke to find that I had been making soft moans from the back of the auditorium. Awaking mid-moan, I opened my eyes to see several of my classmates staring at me with a mixture of surprise, humor and annoyance. The embarrassment I felt for the rest of the class period didn’t add up to the shame that would come later.
One morning as I slept in the library, I found myself having a particular dream about ordering deli meat from a deaf butcher. As you can guess, this story can only have one ending.
I awoke in the library screaming at the top of my voice two words: “Roast Beef.”
I quickly gathered my books and left the library without looking at the faces of my fellow Aggies. I didn’t need to see the shocked expressions to know that every student trying to study had heard my deli meat battle cry.
Flash forward a few years and I’ve graduated college - but I hadn’t graduated from my need to take nap breaks. I was working at Reynolds and Reynolds as a tech writer. The job was cushy in proportion to how little I was making. I barely eked out a living but I only had to work about two hours a day. The other six hours of my workday where spent organizing my MP3 collection, listening to DVD audio commentaries and surfing Wikipedia. This busy day built up an appetite for a lunchtime nap so every afternoon I would eat lunch in a hurry at my desk before clocking out to enjoy a noontime snooze. I timed how long it took me to walk to my car and back and set my alarm so that I could maximize the amount of time I slept without being late back from lunch - 57 minutes. I didn’t want to waste my precious time driving home so I would just sit in my car and take a nap. I developed a funny suntan that summer - skin browned on only one side of my body due to leaning against the window while I slept.
I’m sure I developed a reputation as the weirdo who slept in their car during lunch but I didn’t care - while everybody else was enjoying mac ‘n’ cheese in the company cafeteria, I was dreaming under the afternoon sun - slowly roasting in my Ford Focus like a baking potato.
When I left Reynolds and Reynolds to work for the Boy Scouts, I found that the flexible schedule a District Executive was expected to work meant I had the freedom to build my work schedule around naps instead of the other way around. I would put in a hard morning’s worth of work, take a nap and then prep for a long afternoon/evening of tying knots or whatever the hell us professional Boy Scouts did.
When I was out in the field, I would crash in my car - parked in church parking lots - or buy a cheap matinee movie ticket so I could enjoy a quick siesta while HARRY POTTER 7 played. One time I was awoken by a theater employee who asked me kindly to wake up and not lie down across four seats. He had been alerted to my presence by a few guests complaining about the strange snoring sound coming from the back of the theater.
At my current job, unfortunately, naps are harder to come by. For the first time since I entered the professional work space, I’m working for a company where I actually enjoy putting in long hours. I frequently work through my lunch hour - no naps there. I work at an office so I can’t take a break in the middle of the afternoon to crash on my couch. At one point we actually did have a couch in the office and I once tried to take a nap since everybody else had gone home for the afternoon. The couch was set up directly under a dusty air vent and, as a result of my attempt to sneak a sleep break while at the office, I was sick for a week. Lesson learned.
The bottom line is this - I just don’t have the time to take naps anymore. Life balances out, though. I enjoy work more than I enjoy dreams at this point (unless the dreams are about me having an unlimited budget and no accountability at work).
What does this mean for my sleep cycle? I’m certainly not going to bed any sooner - it’s currently 3:23 AM and I’m heavily caffeinated. Unfortunately, my lack of mid-afternoon naps means I have begun falling asleep at inopportune times. While dozing off while driving is a dangerous matter that concerns me, far more alarming is my tendency lately to fall asleep during movies. Heck, I had to struggle to stay awake during AVENGERS: ENDGAME! That’s not good - this no nap business is cutting into my professional life!
I need my movies, I need my naps and I need a lifestyle where I don’t find myself uncontrollably shouting “roast beef” in the middle of a public library. Sleep is an enemy I’m unable to live without. Sure, I could just go to bed sooner but I’m young(ish) - staying up until 2 AM is not only my prerogative, it’s my duty!
Something will eventually give. My need for sleep will either overcome my fondness for the hours between midnight and 3 AM or I will eventually say something really embarrassing in the middle of a movie because I’m talking in my damned sleep. Maybe there is another solution, Can I get my need for sleep surgically removed?
Doctors are doing that nowadays, right?