I’ve always been amazed by those chronically awake individuals who can drive a car or butter a muffin on less than eight hours sleep. Doctors and scientists prescribe eight hours of sleep for healthy adult human beings only because “eight” is the average of two extremes: those insane specimens who can nap for “four” hours at night and not only walk the following morning, but also make remarkably informed fashion decisions; and those of us who need “eleven” or more hours of sleep if we even hope to fall successfully onto the wooden floor beside the bed.
I’ve often cursed The God of Slumber, whom I imagine to be a darkly handsome fellow draped in terry cloth robes fresh with fabric softener, with arms like mountainous cradles, smelling of aftershave and Juicy Fruit gum. Why can’t I sit in a meeting without bobbing my head to a cadence of snorting, jolting semi-sleep? Why do I look at any horizontal surface as a throw-back to the womb, beckoning me, teasing me, lulling me with its physics?
I remember afternoons in first grade when the entire class was forced to take thirty-minute naps on blue gymnastic mats. I knew I was different when, without exception, Mrs. Gilliam had to shake me out of my sleep and wipe the drool that had oozed from my mouth, across the floor, and into Jerry Reilly’s hair. Every other 6 year old was up and ready to spell some words! And there I was, resting my knotted, sweat-soaked hair against the cinderblocks, wondering where the hell I was.
Currently I take naps in my parked car to combat the hourly fatigue. Of course, naps anywhere, anytime, with anyone watching are just as constructive. I can nap sitting up straight with one foot behind my head upside-down on the toilet, if that’s what the circumstances require. It’s an instinctual act of survival, the will to preserve the limited cache of functioning neurons I’m allotted per 24 hour period. I sleep to live! Throw me a pillow!