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You don’t like sleep

Yesterday I played the Unpopular Onion Game, listing 10 things that I don’t like but many people do.

In addition to some much appreciated support for items like pickles, sushi, and Will Ferrell’s comedy, I also received lot of questions about some of the items on the list.

I’ll do my best to answer some of those questions and explain myself in upcoming posts.

But today I’d like to address one item on the list that baffled many people:

My hatred of sleep.

I’d like to propose that perhaps you don’t like sleep very much, either.

Yes, you may enjoy lying in a soft bed under warm blankets. It may feel great to allow your muscles to enter a state of relaxation. Resting your head on your pillow might seem heavenly. You probably adore the feeling of blissful restfulness upon awakening each morning.

You may even adore lying beside a certain someone while you are in bed.

I understand all of this. I might not enjoy any of these things nearly as much as you do (though lying beside Elysha is quite appealing), but I can’t argue with the positive feelings associated with any of them.

I get it.

I’m still not a big fan in the same way a massage, a spa day, or lounging poolside don’t appeal to me either, but I can at least understand why you might like these things.

But none of this is sleep.

Sleep is an unconscious state required for your body and brain to repair, restore, and reenergize. It’s a state of being that almost always lacks any self-awareness. Unless you are lucidly dreaming, which is rare, you’re not actually conscious while you sleep. You may dream for certain periods of this otherwise unconscious state, but as you well know, these dreams are fleeting, almost always forgotten, and beyond our conscious control.

When we sleep, we are completely unaware of ourselves and our surroundings. I could enter your bedroom, eat a hot dog, do 100 push-ups, and exit without you ever being aware of my presence. Some people (like my daughter) fall into such a deep state of sleep that they can sleep through noise and disruption of almost any kind. Their limbs can be manipulated without any awareness on their part.

My daughter is nearly puppet-like while she sleeps.

Even if this isn’t the case for you, most of us often awaken in a position that is different than when we fell asleep but have no recollection of moving.

People often express a desire to die in their sleep, not because they would be any less dead, but because if we must die, most people would prefer to slip from the temporary unconsciousness of sleep to the permanent unconsciousness of death, since the two are so similar to our unconscious brains.

Sleep and death are a hell of a lot alike.

Keeping all of this in mind, I’d like to propose that when people declare their love for sleep, they are actually declaring their love for the period of time spent in bed just before and just after sleep, but that sleep itself is a difficult process to love since it requires you to be unconscious for its duration.

Yes, sleep might make you feel better and prepare you for the day, but if you could retain all of the appeal of that time just before and just after sleep while only requiring 30 minutes of actual slumber each night to feel rested and refreshed, wouldn’t you take that deal in a heartbeat?

Sleep for just 30 minutes. Enjoy all the benefits of sleeping for 8 hours.

If you could actually do this, the world would declare you a superhero.

If you invented a pill that allowed people to feel this way, you would be wealthy beyond your imagination.

You still get to climb into a warm and cozy bed. You still get to rest your head on your pillow. You can still enjoy the bliss associated with lying prone under the warmth of a blanket. All of that remains the same. The only difference is the unconscious state of sleep only needs to last 30 minutes in order to remain healthy.

If you’d take my deal, then it’s not the sleep that you enjoy. It’s the rituals before and after sleep that you adore, and those rituals are very different than actual sleep, because they only take a fraction of the time that actual sleep requires.

I don’t particularly love the rituals that happen before and after sleep, but I don’t necessarily hate them, either, because they don’t take too long. They don’t consume too much of my day.

I hate sleep because it wastes my time. A lot of my time. About a quarter of my life. And I have many, many things that I want to accomplish and value my time spent doing things more than I value my time spent resting.

I would choose consciousness over unconsciousness every time.

That is why I hate sleep.

And I suspect that you don’t like it very much, either. Right?