'Matter of Laugh or Death,' the award-winning humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
A MYSTERIOUS BEDTIME STORY
Sleep fascinates me. One of the most enjoyable moments of my day is when I crawl under the covers, fluff up the pillows, grab a good book off my nightstand, and then read approximately seven words before I lapse into a deep unconsciousness and start snoring like Fred Flintstone with an adenoid condition.
If this is one of the most enjoyable moments of my day, it means either I really love sleeping, or I have an incredibly boring life. Now, of course, it’s not that my life is boring. My life if jam-packed with excitement and fun. For example, I, uh…well, umm… I do a lot of interesting things, such as…hmm… OK, fine. My life is boring. But I still love to sleep.
The thing I find most fascinating about sleep is the fact that despite decades of high-tech scientific research, we still have no clue as to WHY we sleep. This topic was the cover story in TIME magazine a couple of months ago. I believe the article was titled, “Why do we sleep? Ain’t got no clue!”
Researchers have uncovered many amazing details about the sleep process. When we are asleep, our brains are busy little beehives of biological, chemical, and electrical activity. The scientists can tell us precisely what happens and when it happens. But when asked the simple question—Why?—these same brilliant scientists suddenly turn into 6th-graders who didn’t do the homework assignment and are asked a question in class by the teacher. They shrug their shoulders, avoid eye contact, and mumble, “I dunno.”
It’s not that sleep is a minor aspect of our lives. Human beings spend approximately one third of our existence asleep. This means that I have spent a full 16 years of my life totally incapacitated and oblivious to my surroundings. (Go ahead, say it: “And don’t forget to add in all the time you’ve been asleep, too, Dunn!”)
Although sleeping is one of my most enjoyable hobbies, I actually only enjoy the first few minutes, when I snuggle under the warm covers and then drift off. I also enjoy Saturday mornings, when I can lay there in bed for an extra hour or three, knowing I don’t have to scramble out of the house to get to work.
I don’t particularly enjoy the other seven-plus hours of sleep because, well, because I’m unconscious. If I could go from the cozy drifting off stage directly to Saturday morning every day, and spend no more than, say, an hour or two in bed, I would still enjoy the good aspects of sleeping without wasting so much of life.
Occasionally I meet people who insist they can get along fine with only three or four hours of sleep each night. Can you imagine that? Needing only four hours of sleep per night is like having an extra two months of consciousness squeezed into each and every year—without having to make two additional mortgage payments! What a gift.
Man, if I had all that extra time each day, I could do so many special things with it. I could take on more assignments at work, or at least finish the ones I have on time for a change. No, wait. I already work too much as it is. I don’t want any more assignments.
I could spend more time watching television. No, wait. I already watch too much television as it is. There’s nothing good on anyway. I could do more traveling and sight-seeing. No, wait. Those are expensive activities, so I’d have to work more to get extra money, and then I’d no longer have the extra time to travel.
I could do more projects around my house and yard. No, wait. I hate doing that stuff. I’d rather take on more assignments at work.
Well, now that I think about it, if I had an extra four hours of free time each day, I probably would spend that time doing one of the most fascinating things there is: sleeping.
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