Apropos of Nothing: Not Nearly Enough Sleep
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
Let me get right to the point. I’m tired. That comes as no big shock to you, I’m sure, because if you’re even a few days past the age of enlightenment, you’re probably a few Z’s short of being fully rested, too.
Modern problems may be modern, but they’re still problems. And damn it, I need a nap. There’s got to be a solution out there somewhere.
Many years ago I read a news story that claimed older people need less sleep than younger people. Being young at the time, I believed it. What a dunce I was. Lies! All lies. There is no truth to the pseudo-science of how-do-you-sleep studies. I’m sure of it. Now that I’ve got a few more miles on the original machinery, I’ve come to realize it’s not that older folks need less sleep, it’s just that they can’t stay asleep. Aching hips, backs, knees, and necks are just a few of the reasons why we roll out of bed at the crack of dawn, or earlier. On a related note, there’s that whole getting up in the middle of the night to go pee thing.
There are reasons we can’t sleep. That’s all I’m saying.
Besides the physical limitations of sleep, somewhere along the line reality came along and slapped enough sense into us that we can’t help but wake up, startled and a little afraid we screwed up. Maybe we forgot to take the garbage can out to the street before turning in for the night, or perhaps the looming due date on our quarterly tax bill is at hand, or perhaps we neglected to pick up one of the kids from some school field trip that ran late… or maybe that’s next week. Who can remember all these little details? The point is, we’ve got stuff on our minds, and that stuff wakes us up.
This being a grown-up thing… it’s exhausting.
The answer to this conundrum of continually interrupted catnaps is well documented and heavily advertised, of course. Buy a new mattress. Buy a better mattress. Buy a more expensive mattress. Why, if a good night’s sleep is your goal, all you need to do is go out and buy the latest and greatest miracle mattress that will bring your aching bones such indescribable bliss, you’ll float away on a cloud of etherial dreams each time you even brush up against the feather soft fringes of its majesty. Or maybe not.
I don’t mean to be a gloomy Gus about this, but I think it’s just possible we’ve taken the whole bed thing a bit too far.
Modern science, online shopping, and expanded credit card limits make it possible for us to find and purchase the latest and greatest mattresses ever imagined without leaving the semi-comfort of our currently lumpy and thoroughly inadequate bed. But they don’t call them mattresses anymore. Now they’re sleep systems. And they aren’t made from straw, or wool, a couple of springs and a bunch of left over rags anymore, either. The best sleep systems available today are made from the most perfectly crafted micro-this, and nano-that, space-age polymers, modern science can concoct in a cut-rate Chinese factory. Apparently, the very best available today are using some of the same materials the astronauts use in space.
Pardon me for noticing, but aren’t astronauts in space living in a zero-gravity environment? I mean, seriously, what’s the likelihood a bed that feels all comfy and soft in Zero-G is going to be adequate for me, my spouse, a couple dogs, the occasional late-night visit from a freaked out grandchild, and maybe a pile of laundry that hasn’t made it all the way out to the washing machine just yet?
I can’t help but think that for thousands of years humans somehow found a way to put together a bag of random household scraps that were soft enough and pliable enough to sleep on. That was before the age of Don Draper, of course. Before someone actually took the time to theorize that changing the name of the product somehow improved the product itself.
Me? I’m just a tired old man who needs to grab a few winks and can’t be bothered to study the science of the modern methods of sleep enough to care about it all that much. Instead, I think I’m going to haul that pile of clothes and towels and sheets and blankets out to the laundry room, throw it all in a pile on the floor, and curl up on top of it for a while.
It may not be a modern solution to my age old problem, but I’ll bet it will work just fine. And I might just get some private quiet time for once. After all, who in their right mind is going to come looking for me in the laundry room in the middle of the day?