Sleep Deprived

To sleep or not to sleep. That is the question. Today, I got four hours of sleep. Went to bed late, working on a paper, and got up early to finish the paper. It's part of that procrastination thing I've perfected down to an art. I can time just about anything so that I finish it three seconds before the deadline. Anyway, the result is disastrous to my sleep patterns.

Many college students (probably most) understand this scattered sleep cycle and regularly subject themselves to it. However, students aren't the only ones deprived. Most sleep psychologists insist that the majority of adults in this country do not get enough sleep. This semester, I have become more aware of this growing problem because I am taking a Sleep and Sleep Disorder psychology class.

Sleep has always fascinated me. Last year, while attending Eastern Arizona College, I conducted an experiment for an experimental psycology class concerning sleep deprivation and memory. Needless to say, the subjects got irritated and told me to go away (I still got an A for the class).

The fascination with sleep goes farther back. I have always loved and hated sleep. "Hated?" you ask. Yes, hated. I am one of those people who feels he is missing out on something (who knows what?) if I go to bed to early. I don't know how to go to bed early, nor am I sure I want to try. Even worse, for a while in my early teen years, I had insomnia. I couldn't get to sleep at night. I tried all sorts of things, including what a doctor suggested (he said to read right before going to bed, which only meant I stayed up even later reading). I finally overcame the sleep problem when I went to Alaska to work for a fish factory. There, I worked 16.5 hour days, every day. By the end of each day, I was so exhausted, I never had a problem falling asleep. Where it formerly took me a couple hours, in Alaska, it took under five minutes. Since then, only when I'm nervous or my mind is really stimulated is it hard to fall sleep.

The strange thing is, no matter how much a stranger sleep is to me, I love the feeling of going to sleep and waking refreshed. I really enjoy the good tired feeling after a day of work and going right to sleep. Sleep is good. I sometimes wish I could set aside a day (or five) and sleep away the hours peacefully. Well, real life gets in the way, but a man can dream . . .

Speaking of dreams, I loooove dreams. Dreams are so cool! Just yesterday, I had a weird one about a murder mystery that I helped solve. I was tending about a dozen kids (not my own) with two other adults and one of the kids found a monkey and that set us off on an adventure of sorts. It was so clear, like a movie or TV show. Now, Freud would say I had a sexual thing for those kids or something stupid like that, but I pay little attention to him, except when I have to in psychology classes. Anyway, dreams sure can be cheap entertainment, that's for sure.

Without sleep, I turn into a different person. Depending on how little I get, I can be irritable or downright monstrous. The funny thing is, I never seem to get enough. Makes me wonder sometimes who I would be if I consistently got a good night's rest.

So anyway, if you are looking for a biting or poignant social commentary in this essay (as in essays of the past), not this week. Just some passing comments about the state of sleep I wish I were in right now. Have a good day, and a better sleep.

Thank you for listening.

© Matthew Rutherford 1998

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