April 7, 2003

By Michael Strickland


My sporadic—and sometimes insufficient—sleeping habits of recent days have given me food for thought about the nature of sleep and the diversity of people's need for it. Different people require different amounts (and patterns) of sleep. Some can function on just a few hours, others cannot get through their day without a full night of sleep.

I consider myself fortunate to be flexible in this regard. Though I enjoy getting as much sleep as possible, I often get by with much less than I'd prefer. Today, for instance, I'm operating on four hours' sleep, having stayed up late to complete some freelance work. Though I tend to feel the crash in early afternoon when I deprive myself thusly, I strangely find it easier to wake up after 5-6 hours of sleep than after 7-8 hours. Often, while underway in the Navy, I would work a six-hours-on, six-hours-off shift, which did not allow more than five hours' sleep at any given time. Such a schedule takes its toll after awhile, and I generally need to crash for 9-10 hours to recover after several nights of such insufficient sleep. However, while it may not be healthy in the long run, such an ability to get by on less sleep has been a useful way to increase my productivity (though, admittedly, such deprivation is not always tied to productivity).

My flexibility extends to the pattern as well as the duration of my sleep. I seem to naturally do best on a schedule which keeps me up late and allows me to sleep in. However, I have lately had to report to work early in the morning on a daily basis. My second job, too, has required me to work all hours of the day and night. Two days ago, my start time was 4:30 a.m. A week before that, I reported to work at 10:30 p.m. As with the amount of sleep I get, I would also prefer a more normal pattern of sleep, but I am thankful for the ability to adapt my needs to the particular day's requirements.

During the two months I spent with my uncle Jack down in Puerto Rico (many years ago), I got as close as I'll probably ever get to a European sleep schedule. We'd knock off work at noon each day, come home for lunch, and then take a one-hour siesta. It felt wonderful. I can't think of a more healthy sleep habit than taking a nap in the middle of the day. I wish our too-fast-paced society would realize the wisdom in a slower way of life. We'd all be happier and healthier.

For now, however, I'll have to fit in sleep whenever I can, after everything else is done. Like right now. At least this is one day that allows me time for a nap.


Development note: I've noticed that this site doesn't look like it should in Netscape Navigator. Rather than waste time jury-rigging it to look right in a soon-to-be-obsolete browser, I'll just add the cliché "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer."
Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year, I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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4/6: Writing, Just Not Here
4/5: Sci-Files Trivia
4/4: Sobering Up
4/3: Great White Hope
4/2: Entropy
4/1: Peace on Earth
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