That I were to find, some wandering day, half-buried in the white sands of a brilliant coastal elsewhere, a bottle—let’s say pthalo in color, and encorked—and were I to lift my prize in hand, grip said cork and extract it, and in a sparkling whoosh the air before me should fill with the spectral presence of a genie, whose eyes look happily at me in anticipation of my first wish, I would not hesitate with my request. “Can we dispense with this sleeping shit already?”
Yes, yes, so for the next step in my procession of self-revelation that this blog has become, I choose to admit to you this, which you may not know a propos de moi: I am a sleep freak.
Would it be too strong to say that I out and out hate to sleep? Yes and no. There’s one slice of sleep that I must admit to enjoying, while the rest of it, you can have. I like falling asleep, might even go so far as to say I love doing this. And I’m an Olympic champion at the sport, let me tell you (better, let Ann tell you about this, who so sweetly took the accompanying picture of me last week in Tahoe). What do you consider your average length of time between intending to fall asleep and actually achieving that? Without hesitation, I can say mine’s under a minute, maybe even under 30 seconds. When I assume the position and alert the various departments in my brain that it’s quitting time, as one they tidy up their desktops, grab their overcoats, and they are out the door. On this front, we are a very fine tuned machine. Circumstances be damned, for that matter—sitting up, on a plane, in a tent. I’d actually love to stress test this capacity sometime at a shitty rock concert. Bet I could do it.
But after falling asleep, after gobbling up whatever REM is needed (for memory consolidation, it appears, being sleep’s primary purpose, as I previously wrote about), my whole being seems to pivot to the intention of getting back up and back in the game as soon as possible. When you wake up in the night, and you’re a normal sleeper, I would guess that your most earnest wish in that moment is to get right back to sleep. I, conversely, pop up and look anxiously at the clock, hoping against hope the numbers meet the minimum I’ve determined for legitimizing getting up. What, you may wonder, constitutes that minimum? 3am. If I see 3:00 glowing there in red, brother, I am out of there! Though 2:45 is often good enough, and if I know the following day will afford me a nap opportunity, hell, anything’s possible at that point.
So there’s another qualifier to my general sleep hostility: I do love naps. I LOVE naps! When we’re going on vacation, and the normal members of my family sit around anticipating the exotic sights and sounds and tastes of where we’re going? Sure, I join them in these giddy anticipations, but I’m also thinking: naps! Every day, a nap! Oh my, such a lovely indulgence are naps!
I know what you’re thinking. Okay, McWright, so you get up at 3am, it appears. What the hell time then do you go to sleep? Indeed, mes amis, here too the sleep freak shows his face. The truth of it is, I can pretty much go to sleep at any point, say, within an hour of finishing dinner (Ann might swear I sometimes fall asleep right there at the table, but she’s prone to exaggeration, you should know)(I love my wife!)(she reads this). Hey, what can I say? Tv is just flat out a soporific for me at night, I may as well be breathing anesthesia at that point. Now, if we’re out and about, no problem, I’ll stay up and alert until whenever. For that matter, if I stay active at home at night, likewise no problem. But your average day, with the usual dinner-direct-to-the-family-room routine? Yeah, I fall asleep between 8 and 9, when Ann nudges me for the bedroom trek, and I usually pass back out between the time I hit the on button of the remote from bed and the screen comes alive.
So it’s not like I don’t get, almost, the recommended amount of sleep each night. It’s just that my internal clock is off for my time zone, I suppose (I used to say that when I moved out west in 2000 my internal clock remained forever loyal to my east coast existence). If you’re a family member of mine, or a good friend, you’ve no doubt had the experience of getting up to one or more emails from me and have noted the absurd time of their having been sent. Outlook used to have that feature in which you could set the future time when the email would be released. That was an excellent cloaking device for me professionally (and something President-elect Douche should obviously consider per his tweeting, that so many of us wouldn’t imagine the guy’s got a ferocious coke problem). My family on the east coast routinely emails or texts me at what for a normal would be an abusively early hour asking if I’m available to chat. Sometimes, I have to wait myself before reaching out to them given the hour! The sleep freak.
Here’s the bottom line: I simply despise the opportunity costs of sleep. To offer just one example, have you ever thought about how many books you won’t read in this life because you were just lying there snorfle-breathing with the occasional thrash in your pathetically idle, insentient state? Ridiculous! Sucks!
You too resent this, I know. Only, for you, neurotypical sleeper, you really like the experience of sleeping, you may even savor the thing, look forward to weekends when you can indulge it that much more (my sleep patterns don’t change one lick on the weekends, nor—other than the guaranteed napping—on vacations. The sleep freak). But think about the life I’m describing on my end. For the tradeoff of a nightly basket of banal tv-watching, in getting up at 3 each morning I get about 4 hours of time with which to do whatever it is I want to do. In this life, I don’t need to tell you, that is some serious priceless smack, right? I read, I write, I work out, I watch a movie, I do some photography—some days I do all of these things! And then I start my day! I call it Matt Time, and I am filthy rich with the stuff. Admit it: no matter the depth of your passion for sleeping, you have to be at least a little jealous at the thought. Most folks would love one additional hour of time for themselves each day. Four of them! Daily! The sleep freak.
You know the snooze function on an alarm clock? I’ve NEVER used it. The sleep freak.
Even better? You know the alarm function on an alarm clock? I’ve NEVER used it! Okay, you’re doubting me there, and you’re right, I have used it. In that I’ve set the thing on a few occasions, say, when I’ve booked a 5am flight (which I do without hesitation nor resentment) and need to be out the door at 3am. RARELY has the thing ever had to go off, though, as I, like you, do usually wake up even earlier when I know I have an early gig coming at me. In other words, I literally cannot remember the last time I was ever woken up by the actual alarm going off. Because I am…
…the sleep freak.