Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Respect your zzzzzs

March 1995

The innocent sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care. - Shakespeare

Right on, Bill. Scientists tell us that we will spend a third of our lives sleeping. To which I can but reply - gosh, only a third? Those of us true connoisseurs of unconsciousness spend our lives in the profound appreciation for a gift that has become woefully misunderstood in our world, and especially in agriculture.

I have friends who like to brag about how little sleep they get during the busy season. It could be all the caffeine from the three hours in the coffee shop. Sleep is not an inconvenient necessity; it is a wonderful vacation we get to take every night. As powerful as the restorative action to our bodies is, the mending of our minds is even more astonishing. The problems that seem insurmountable in the evening are much less daunting in the light of morning. Sleep grants us a fresh chance, a new beginning.

Bad things happen to us more often late in the day. Meatloaf supper, for instance. We have more accidents, and tear up more machinery. Some of our decisions made late in the day seem less wise the following morning. (Ask when most men proposed). Frustration and anxiety clouds our judgment making decisions more difficult. Like all fussy children, we should be sent to bed.

True, some people need less sleep.  I wonder why we find this an enviable characteristic. Perhaps it is like cooking has become - something we don't enjoy because we are not doing it very well. Many of us hibernation experts have discovered that sleep is not an activity to be taken lightly, if you want to do a good job. Some hints:

  1. Get to bed. Although this seems obvious, people often forget this essential step. Too many TV addicts zonk out watching the ridiculous drivel that passes for late-night entertainment. Falling asleep watching TV is like eating a world-class dessert (cherry cobbler with rum whipped cream, for example) cold from a styrofoam cup while driving a car. It can be done, but why?
  2. Choose your bed seriously. You wouldn't farm with broken machinery and expect good results, would you? Find sleeping equipment that matches your particular needs. You and your sleeping partner may even need separate beds, like Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.  It may look silly, but good sleep is worth it.
  3. The Mattress. Considering the amount of time you are going to spend in contact with this equipment, choose carefully. Trying out mattresses in a store is difficult, of course. Lying down on a bed in public is not a comfortable act, but a serious test drive is essential. If you want to try out the bed for bouncing, remove your shoes first.
  4. Pajamas. We can talk about this. Jammies are, scientists tell us, what separates man from lower life forms. No animal other than homo sapiens has special clothing only for sleeping (cocoons do not count).  Truly great jammies need to be soft, nearly worn out, and loose.  Nightshirts are acceptable, but the critical factor is the deep and lasting relationship that is established between wearer and garment. During the course of the night, you and your jammies are going where no one has gone before. Also, always remember that in an emergency, you could be interviewed on TV in your night attire. 
  5. The sleep environment. Have a little respect for the task at hand. Put the kids to bed - whether they want to or not. This sadistic practice is the reason we became parents in the first place, right? Get your children used to darkness and quiet, and you will almost certainly ensure they will return to the farm often without ever knowing why.

Above all don't feel guilty about getting your rest. Consider that when you are asleep, you aren't a) saying something you might later regret, b) worrying obsessively, or c) voting - three actions that have caused us a great deal of trouble in America lately. Anyway, who is more impressive, those who can only get their work done by eliminating one of the most pleasant aspects of human existence, or those who can do both.  

Here in farm country we should set an example of what proper sleep fitness is. Perhaps I could put out a Jane Fonda-type video to help those poor sufferers of "sleep anorexia". It could start with some warm-up "sermon naps" and work up to (only after rigorous conditioning) an all-out, 22 hour, harvest-is-over sleep-a-thon. I could even use my college age son as a role model for endurance sleeping events. Hey - this could be big! First, I've got to get some spandex jammies...

No comments:

Post a Comment