I Don’t Sleep In
Holiday weekends are great. No obligations, no concerns, the only thing that can keep my from relaxing is me. I don’t do that very often, but I try not to let my “relaxing” get out of control. This can be boiled down to one concept: I don’t sleep in.
I’ve known a lot of people who “love sleep”. They turn in early every night, but don’t often get up early. Nine to eleven hours is an average night for most of them. I maintain that this is crazy. Enjoying sleep that much should be a clinically treated disorder. Of course, most of these people think I’m crazy, as I tend to max out at 5 hours most nights. But my position is utterly defensible.
One particular guy at my office has said that if he didn’t have work, he’d never see morning. He sleeps til 2 every day off from work. I can’t imagine doing it.
Every time you sleep more than you need, minutes and hours of your life fade away. Every time you snooze the alarm, or skip breakfast, or decide to roll back over instead of facing the morning, you lose a little chunk of life. That life is gone and never coming back. And that’s a tragedy.
Most people think of sleeping or tapping the snooze button as pausing life; as if existence will wait another hour. As if – when we decide not to go running, or read a book, or celebrate someone’s birthday – we can circle back and take that opportunity later. But it doesn’t work that way. That opportunity is gone.
Sure, I can go running tomorrow morning (and I probably should). But those are different minutes, on a different day. It’s a different run, not a make-up or a redo of today. Those minutes I wasted are gone.
I was once a habitual snooze-tapper. I slept past 1pm almost every weekend. When I was awake and not in class, I laid around napping and watching MTV (Real World Vegas!) or playing GameCube. Yes I said GameCube. Deal with it. That little extra bit of sleep felt like stealing a tiny piece of heaven. It was like I’d cheated the clock. Then one day I woke up at something like 3 on a Sunday afternoon. I’d gone to bed around midnight after a day of floating around my apartment aimlessly. I felt fine, if a little groggy, until it hit me: my weekend was gone.
You know the feeling…you realize you only have a tiny bit of time left to enjoy yourself before you’re back at work and the monotony returns. I had a solid 8 hours left to eat, shower, dress, drive somewhere to do something interesting, get home, eat, and go to bed. That feeling is bad enough, but coupled with the fact that I’d done nothing enjoyable for the previous 36 hours, and I realized that I’d just sacrificed a weekend.
Now, sacrificing a weekend is no big deal. I don’t have to be doing exciting things all the time. But if you add up my wasted weekends, I’ve sacrificed a huge chunk of “me time”. And not even to a good cause…I just flushed it down the toilet.
That was a painful thought…I was about to turn 30 (this was long after the GameCube days), and was dealing with my fading youth. So I broke it down a little more, and asked myself some questions:
- How many weeknights have I wasted eating pasta in front of the TV because I thought I needed to be rested for work, so I didn’t go out and enjoy my night?
- How many times have I stayed in bed til 10 when I was awake at 8, just because I could?
- How many times have I skipped running, or reading, or drawing, or breakfast to steal ten or fifteen extra minutes of sleep?
- How many hours of my first 30 years have I lost to lazy, unnecessary, recreational sleep?
I don’t have an answer. No, I do: “A LOT”. And I’m not doing that anymore.
One day, not too long from now, I’m going to be 60, 70, 80 (God willing), and these days will be gone. One day I’ll be settling into my last breath, and recreational sleep won’t be something I’ll look back on fondly.
So I fill my weeknights with dinners and happy hours and charity events, my weekends with art and reading and enjoying the weather. And I never sleep in. Intentionally. Once in a while the snooze button is irresistible. On occasion I need an 8 or 9 hour night to catch up, but it’s an unusual occurrence.
I have a finite number of days, hours, breaths to use and enjoy before this ride is over. There’s no pause or rewind, Time is a cruel and heartless master, and none of us can escape it. Even the Doctor ages.