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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wanted: More Hours

At the end of a day as rich, productive and satisfying as today, I sometimes find myself enmeshed in magical thinking: It would be so nice to need less sleep.

Despite having energy people frequently comment on, I'm on the bell curve as far as how many hours of sleep I require for optimal functioning. And though I'm fortunate to have no sleep issues and can function well for a day, even two, without 7-8 hours, about a third of my lifetime will be spent like most people - asleep. Intellectually, I realize it's fruitless to envy the small minority who sleep far less than most of us. But as today draws to an otherwise satisfying close, here is my sincere, if unrealistic, wish: I want more hours awake.

Over the years I've tried numerous techniques to extend my waking time. Each has worked for a brief while but after a few days, a week at most, I'm a little frayed at the edges. Soon I'm back on the bell curve. Who else, magical thinking aside, is occasionally disgruntled by this? Would be consoling to know I'm not alone.


  1. Pat, I have thought about that too. But, I don't share the same intrigue. It seems to me that sleep is a pleasant way to defrag our minds and restore our energy. Worth the time away from accomplishing things I really want to do. Sandy thinks I enjoy it a little too much. She likes to throw in that the inscription on my tombstone will read "Just resting". I love that a good sleep or a quick nap makes me feel a lot better. Having gotten up at 3 a.m. today to catch a plane, that' sounds like a good plan.

  2. Pat, I agree completely with Jim. I've read a number of times that the latest theories on sleep(specifically dreaming) indicate that it's a period for the the brain to "house clean". And believe me, I have days where my mental residence needs some serious washing,dusting and polishing! Some artists actually say some of their most creative moments (Paul McCartney writing "Yesterday" as an example) happen in their sleep.All in all, I'm content to let Mother Nature guide me on this one.

  3. Another very interesting facet regarding sleep and dream cycles in REM sleep is that it's been pretty well established that our waking hours consciousness parallels our sleeping hours. When I have time to pay attention to my mental state while at work, I very often will notice little moments especially in the early afternoon where part of my awarness is off somewhere in a very definetly dreamy state. What does all this mean? I like to subscribe to the proposition that at all times, whether I wish it or not, I am the "object" of some other greater consciousness rather than just the "subject" of my own life. I think it makes it easier for me to understand and work with the flow of life. Instead of opposing a thought or notion or fantasy that seems to be odds with what I believe I should be or think or do. Just throwing that out there.

  4. Jim, Peter,& Steve. Sounds like the three of you are not inclined to engage in my brand of magical thinking on this issue; smart of all of you to do as Peter says and "...let Mother Nature guide..."

    When I find myself wishing for more hours (or more anything), I often hear the voice of Henderson (from Saul Bellow's book "Henderson The Rain King") whose constant refrain in that novel is "I want". So, you can all call me Henderson from now on if you'd like. Thanks for reading.