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Slep: not for the weak

Boy howdy, do I ever love to sleep. I really do. I think my life would be about 78% better if I could take a nap every day, from 2:00 p.m. to about 3:30. I used to schedule my days to allow for this when I was in college and consequently felt peppier and sassier during those four years than I have ever felt in my life before or since. North American life has many things to recommend, but it's sadly lacking in the siesta tradition, and this I firmly believe will lead to our eventual downfall. There'd be much less need for slacking, coffee guzzling, and yawning until your ears hurt if everyone could just write off about an hour and a half to two hours of the endless abyss that is mid-afternoon.

I went through a phase when I was a kid, of interviewing people. I always wanted to know what people's favorites were. What is your favorite color, favorite food, favorite thing to do. I remember quizzing my dad, during this phase. At the time, Dad was working the night shift, leaving for work before midnight and getting home after dawn. Dad never adapted to this inverted, nocturnal schedule, and was thus always in a fog of fatigue. I remember asking him what was his favorite thing to do, and he said “sleep.” He was kind of joking, but not really. At the time, I thought he was being pretty weird. Who wanted to go to sleep? Going to bed was boring. Nobody wants bedtime, do they?

I didn't understand my dad's love of sleeping until I hit college. My first semester of college was a whirlwind. I worked my ass off, partied my ass off, stayed up late, got up early, eschewed food, rode my bike around looking for fun to get into, and generally wore myself to a shred. After a tumultuous bout of Roommate Drama compounding the stresses of Finals Week, I came home for winter break and slept for two days straight. My beloved grandparents were out visiting from California, and I was too shattered to greet them in any intelligible way until I got over my fit of unconsciousness.

The next semester I went back, same way; full steam ahead. The only difference was that I had a two hour free slot in the afternoons. I couldn't conceive of such a weird hole in my day, but figured I could use it to polish up any work I needed to turn in in the afternoons, or go for a ride, or write poetry (I used to do that sort of thing…I apologize profusely). One day, however, in the fatigue of February, during the siege that is Midterms, I took it to my head to lay down on my bed and zonk out. The clanging, gurgling, thumping, purring radiator in my room was churning out quantities of kindly heat, and my Animaniacs quilt was (as it still is) the perfect napping blanket. I laid down, pulled a pillow over my head, tucked my quilt under my chin, and fell into the most satisfying slumber. Holy cow…it was like a religious experience. I woke up about an hour and a half later feeling as fresh as if I'd just had a really great shower, and as sated as though I'd had a terrific lunch. That was a good darn nap, and a good darn idea. Maybe I should do that sort of thing more often!

After that revelation, I made a point to feature a siesta period into my schedule whenever practical. It worked really well with my tendency to both rise early and stay up late and it allowed me to be alert for my later afternoon classes and energetic for my evening job. I kept up with this custom in grad school, too. Most of my classes were in the morning, and later on, during the dissertation stage, I had a morning job. I'd go to class or go to work, then come home, have lunch, have my little nap, then be up and running, out to campus to use the library, or just banging out my dissertation in my room, or doing costume stuff for the Lords of Misrule. It was a perfect setup.

I had a suspicion that moving to a non-nap phase when I got a “proper job” would be a rough transition. It has been. I'm always at a disadvantage in the early afternoon. Between about 1:30 and 3:30, you really needn't bother with me, because I'm only about halfway there. My poor brains just turn into soggy jello around then. It doesn't matter what or when I eat, how much sleep I have had, or if I am drinking coffee or not taking my allergy medicine. My body just believes that it's entitled to downtime in the early afternoon, and no amount of logic and insistence can make it believe otherwise.

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