[Originally posted on 07 August 2008]
I’ve got a love/hate relationship with sleep.
This oscillates every 12 hours or so.
It goes back to when I was 8 years old, when the two times a day I moaned the most were:
‘Muuum, just let me sleep 10 mins more’
‘Muuuuum, just let me stay up 10 mins more’
I’d like to think that both those parts of me are still very much alive.
Sleeping is essentially boring: it’s drifting into unconsciousness; it’s a lack of activity; we just do it because we have to. And yet, waking up in the morning can be so damn hard in the face of sheer laziness and inertia. Lie-ins are tempting, sometime irresistible, but when you think that all this dozing takes up around 1/3 of our lives, this suddenly seems like a massive waste.
I’ve certainly had many times at Durham when I thought ‘I wish I just didn’t have to sleep’. It gets in the way when you’re really busy, so wouldn’t it be great – never sleeping? If you could have all that extra time back, there are so many more useful things you could fit into the time – learn a musical instrument, a language, catch up on work or just organise your life. It’d be fantastic. But in real life you can only cheat fatigue for so long before you go insane, or, in extreme cases, after about ten days or so, you die.
Maybe I’m an optimist, but I imagine a nice hospital-bed death as being a bit like falling asleep: giving in, drifting off, letting go of consciousness. Apparently 53% of us are fortunate enough to die in this way, but would that make it any less scary?
Of course we could die every time we fall asleep, but it’s not something we worry about. When you’re asleep you’re at your most vulnerable, completely open to attack and abuse and so sleeping next to someone else is the ultimate sign of trust. You are showing that you are 100% comfortable around them, and you trust that they won’t hurt you. Effectively you are putting yourself entirely at the other person’s mercy, which makes it such a big stage in any relationship, even if you’re not going to have sex.
Also, pranks on sleeping people are really quite damaging – you may laugh it off at the time, but it majorly dents any sense of trust. A friend of mine recently got robbed whilst he was in the house and asleep, but to be honest I’m not sure it would have been much better to be awake!
I could ramble on about this subject for ages, and there are so many ways of exploring it, but basically I think that sleep is at once our best friend and a necessary evil. It is the most boring thing you can do, from an exterior perspective, but it is also meant to burn more calories than watching TV!
But that’s another rant for another time.
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