I do. I slept 10 hours last night.

It’s amusing to me how my attitude toward sleep has changed over the years.

As infants, we needed upwards to 12 hours of sleep per day–what?! Of course we fussed and carried on, but we woke up giggling and drooling, thrilled to be rested.

Then it was kindergarten, and nap time was a happy time. Nap mats were laid down, the classroom lights went out, and for a blissful 20 minutes, all was right with the world.

From what I can remember, in elementary school, bed time was too early to merit taking a nap during the week, but on Sundays, the whole family napped. In fourth and fifth grade, I would refuse to take these naps, but I had to stay in my bed in the dark for one hour while everyone else slept. Of course, I’d eventually nod off. My mom is a genius.

In middle school and especially in high school, naps were for losers. The later you could stay up, the better. Thankfully my parents had a really strict–and early–curfew that kept me from staying out late. I would stay up, though, and read. That’s right, kids. Our family had one computer, and it was in the sun room. Once bedtime came, we weren’t allowed out there. No late-night web-surfing for me. It was almost a competition for me, though, on the weekends to see how late I could stay awake. My friend, Sarah Allen, would spend the night, and I’d stay awake talking to her not realizing she’d already fallen asleep. I was determined to pull a ton of all-nighters though, just to say that I did. Who needs sleep anyway, right?

Then college came. A good-night’s sleep for me was the ever-elusive holy grail or like an oasis mirage in a desert-always just out of reach. I was on the NCAA women’s rowing team for six months of my freshman year in college, and between two-a-days, my courses, studying, and spending time with friends, the only things that could get cut were sleeping and eating. I figured I needed food more than sleep to have strength to row, so sleep went out the window. I can remember going two to three days without sleep, then trying to function. It was near impossible!

Believe me folks, I did not think I was cool for never getting a wink. I did think it was neat that my best work came between the hours of 11:00pm-4:00am or so (that’s when most all of my papers were written and assignments were completed), but I never felt the need to brag about my self-induced insomnia. Driving was extremely dangerous as I’d doze off behind the wheel while driving and snooze at red lights. In January of my freshman year, I left the team and got back a hint of my sanity.

I made it through undergrad with a lot of late nights, definitely all-nighters, but I didn’t have the physical toll on me that rowing caused. I was being smarter, I thought. Sleeping around five hours was the norm, and I was thrilled to get it…except, of course, we’re supposed to get around eight hours a night. Who was counting, though? Not me!

I finished undergrad and went straight into graduate school in August 2005 with the notion that I could finish the two-year degree in 1.5 years. Less than a semester in, and many NoDoz-caffeinated beverages-junk food-prompted all-nighters, I knew I needed to finish sooner if I wished to finish at all at the pace I’d set. So I started working to finish in one year.

Second semester, I took a full course load, studied for orals and prepped my thesis proposal–more sleepless nights, indeed. Keep in mind, David and I had been dating for three years at this point, and I wanted to make time for him too. All I could cut out was sleep. I passed orals in early April and got my proposal approved a couple of weeks later. Through the summer, I wrote a chapter of my thesis every other week or so while working on revisions and taking a couple of classes. Once again, my best writing happened late at night, so I cut sleep to ensure that my best writing is what went into my thesis. Brief story of my sleep deprivation (and JCH, you should remember this): I was working on an assignment at my desk after being awake for a couple of days. I got a bowl of Cheerios. I woke up on the floor, Cheerios-untouched a few hours later. How did I get there? No clue. Sleep is precious, people. Precious!

When I graduated in August 2006, I got engaged…the same day. I celebrated with several late nights of spending time with David (who was in town from Houston).

Then I slept.

I have been catching up on sleep ever since, so it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that I slept so long last night. Last night was date night, and David offered a massage after dinner. I obliged and fell asleep at 7:30pm. He didn’t wake me up until the alarm did at 5:30.

Sleep and I have had an on-again, off-again relationship for years, but I think it’s safe to say, we’ll be together for good from here on out.

At least until kids enter the picture…

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