Amanda Jacobs: Time for a nap

Amanda Jacobs

Few things can be both as satisfying and infuriating as sleep.

When you’re really tired, nothing is better than sinking into bed, closing your eyes and letting the world drift away until your alarm goes off.

Sometimes, however, it’s not so easy; sometimes sleep decides to elude us.

When I have trouble falling asleep, I engage in a vicious cycle of frustration. I try a variety of methods to help myself doze off — rolling onto my other side, taking deep breaths, counting backwards — but nothing seems to work.

Despite my efforts to avoid looking at the clock, I can’t help myself, and I keep a running tally of how many hours of sleep I would get if I fell asleep right at that moment, in 15 minutes, in a half hour and so on. The more I think about how much or little rest I’m going to get, the harder it is for me to relax, and the longer I stay awake.

Since I have to be in the newsroom well before the sun to put out the paper every day, missing my usual bedtime is especially detrimental to me. It’s kind of interesting to see how many other people are awake at the same unusual hour as I am, but most of the windows I drive past on my way to work are still dark, reminding me of how nice it would be if I were still in bed.

Luckily for me, I’m a morning person who can function on relatively few hours of sleep, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it. I rely pretty heavily on caffeine to get me through the day.

During the week, I get about five or six hours of sleep a night, but on the weekends I try to get nine or 10. Unfortunately, I recently read a CNN article that said it’s unhealthy to get less than five hours or more than eight. My theory was that I could make up for the sleep debt I accumulated throughout the week by sleeping late on the weekends, but I guess I’m just making things worse.

I know I’m not the only person in the world who doesn’t get enough sleep. In fact, it seems like most people I know are overworked and under-rested.

Life would be a lot easier if we never had to sleep.

Think about it: We’re supposed to spend eight hours a day unconscious. Everyone has a list of things they would do if they could find the time; imagine what you would do over the span of a full 24-hour day.

I would learn how to cook beyond boiling pasta and heating up frozen meals. I would exercise every day instead of three days a week or fewer. I would learn a new language or how to play an instrument.

In sleep-free society, people would be free to reach their full potential. It would be another Renaissance.

Or maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe there’s a reason that our bodies only allow us to be awake and busy for a certain amount of time.

Most of us fill our waking hours with as many obligations and activities as possible, constantly moving and stopping only to sleep.

Keeping up that pace without ever pausing to rest would be pretty exhausting — although I suppose we’d never feel tired if we didn’t have to sleep. Or maybe we’d still feel tired and wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

I guess it’s a moot point. We all need to sleep, so we should just make the most of time we’re awake and cherish the moments we get to rest.

I hope this column didn’t put you to sleep — unless you were reading it in an attempt to fall asleep. In that case, sweet dreams.

Pekin Daily Times city editor Amanda Jacobs can be reached at (309) 346-1111 or ajacobs@pekintimes.com.