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It's All Relative: No More Nap Time

 published on Thursday, April 27, 2006



I have a vice that I'm not proud of.

It could be worse -- thankfully, it's not drugs or alcohol. And although I am extremely fond of food -- chocolate and ice cream, in particular -- I don't think my eating has yet gotten to a compulsive level.

I am an emotional sleeper.

When confronted with stress, some people overeat, and some people stop eating. Some people obsessively exercise, and others choose to veg out in front of the TV.

But when I find myself in the toughest of situations or confronted with the closest deadlines, I am filled by the overwhelming desire to do the least productive thing possible -- take a nice, long nap.

Although people I know have responded with both ridicule and jealousy for my ability to fall asleep anywhere at anytime, I must say that I'm not worried about my vice. When necessary, I can definitely pull the classic all-nighter, and even if I do stay home on a Saturday night to relax instead of heading out on Mill Avenue, I don't usually drift off until about 2 a.m.

However, what's begun to concern me is that my love of catching z's won't translate well to a working environment. As a student, I've been able to set my schedule, whenever possible, to include afternoon classes. And my internship even allows me to set my own hours, meaning I usually won't waltz into the office until well after noon.

How on earth will I, or any slumber-loving college student, make it to my 9-to-5?

If I'm able to get myself in sync with the alarm clocks of the working world, at least I can sleep in on the weekends. That is, until I settle down and have kids who want to get up at 7 a.m. to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

So does the end of college signal the end of sleeping in? It seems inevitable that at a certain point in our lives, we will all turn into our parents, and start considering dinner and a movie that ends at 11 p.m. to be a late night. But I worry that the transition stage, from keeping the crazy hours of a college student to holding down the steady schedule of an adult, might be a little more taxing than anyone lets on.

And the bad news only continues from there. Rumor has it that as people age, they need less sleep -- which would mean maybe we won't be so tired as adults after all. It would also explain why grandparents always wake you up with 7 a.m. phone calls and don't understand why you're still in bed.

However, any dreams of being less tired when you're older are dashed by the National Sleep Foundation, which says that older folks need the same seven to nine hours of sleep a night that everyone else does. The problem is simply that older people have more difficulty falling asleep and getting restful sleep, and therefore become adjusted to getting less sleep than they really need.

Now you optimistic, seize-the-day types might be thinking that I'm making a big deal out of nothing. "You can sleep when you're dead," you'd tell me. In fact, you probably put down this paper after reading the first paragraph and went out to climb a mountain or wrestle a bear or something.

Others will probably tell me that the solution to my worries is Starbucks, Red Bull or a combination of the two -- and trust me, I'm well acquainted with that fix. But no matter how many shots I add to my Venti latte, I don't think I'll be able to ignore the alluring call of my big, fluffy pillow.

In the end, sleep deprivation is something that we'll all deal with for the rest of our lives, and it's true that it definitely could be worse.

But let me know if years from now, you come up with any good ideas to solve this problem. I'll be hiding under my desk in a sleeping bag, avoiding the boss and counting sheep.

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