Life takes its toll on you. As Dolly Parton said in "Steel Magnolias," "Time marches on, and eventually you realize it is marching across your face." After a particularly grueling yet immensely fun long weekend where I spent roughly 15 hours driving, 7 of them after 2 hours of sleep, I managed to escape to the bathroom for a few minutes of respite, where I leaned into the mirror expecting to see long, craggy lines in my bleary, makeup-smeared face. A sleepless night can usually be evidenced by dark circles, furrowed brows, frowny mouths. Which is why I try to get as much sleep as humanly possible while still staying fully functional and productive. Well, as much as I tend to be.
For me, the formula to happiness is: Zzz = ME :). I love sleeping. Getting into a freshly made bed, with the sheets cool and smooth and the comforter fluffy and comforting is a great feeling. Stretching out, finding just the right position to snuggle into, winding down your brain, then falling into a dream state that allows your body to have some time off. Just that mental "aaaaah" can erase even the most stressful day or worrisome worries.
The science of sleeping is different for everyone, but everybody does it. Depending on the season, I sleep in a few different ways. In winter, where I am perpetually huddled under various blankety things, I sometimes fall asleep on the couch while enjoying my wintry television, then awake in the night and trudge in the dark up the stairs, hoping not to be jarred into full consciousness by stubbing my toe. In the summer, sleeping is more well-planned, as it is less comfy on the couch when the air conditioner is upstairs in my room. Then, there is proper procedure for jammies, tooth-brushing, etc. As much as I love sleep, I don't often nap. I guess I like to be in it for the long haul.
Getting plenty of sleep is beneficial for me, and possibly you, for so many reasons. First, as mentioned above, it keeps your face looking fresh and less like a satellite photo. I'm at that tender age when girls start to realize they're not immortal, and you won't look like you did in high school forever. Sleep is cheaper than any Oil of Olay.
Second, it does wonders for your psyche. Sleeplessness wears on your mind, causes stress, irritation, a perpetual unease. You wake with the same weight on your mind that you had when you went to bed. If you can't shake off that weight and start anew every morning, it builds up.
Third, sleeping allows for a great therapeutic and fun game called dreaming. Having dreams has to be beneficial for your brain somehow. It fires all those synapses and reaches far into every nook and cranny of your mind for stuff that make for the most entertaining and trippy movie ever made, only to be enjoyed while asleep, and most likely to be forgotten. I have some straight-up bonkers dreams, but that's a whole other column.
Sleeping isn't always easy. Lots of people have trouble sleeping. Thoughts, illness and various maladies conspire to keep some sleepless. I know I have had bouts of what is called "sleep paralysis," which traps you between being awake yet feeling as if you are still in a dream, unable to move or wake yourself. You see yourself in your bed, see your room, but you can't move or tell if you're awake or not. Scary stuff. I've had bouts of sleepwalking and awoke in my closet or on the floor a couple times. I even had an instance where awaking to, say, go to the restroom and getting up too fast have caused me to faint and conk the bridge of my nose on my dresser, leaving a permanent scar. So now you know where I got that scar on my nose.
I know sleeping is a luxury for many people - mainly the parental sort. People can be perfectly happy and well-off without plenty of sleep. But man, if you can get it, get it. It will most likely extend your life - and your skin - and who knows, maybe a dream will change your life. Look what it did for the Beatles.
Do you get enough sleep? Tell me your favorite sleep strategy at ssepanek@ tribtoday.com, or comment on this story at www.tribtoday.com.