I had my first good night’s sleep in a long time last night. That doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but it is. I was so tired and so worn out, that it devolved into an Ouroboros of insomnia where my mind was going too fast and my heart raced too much that the thing I wanted most eluded me in a vicious cycle.
It hadn’t been that bad since when the kids were newborns. I used to literally keep track of the hours I’d slept just so I can tell myself in the morning if the night was “good enough” or not. Of course, I was spending more time awake than actually asleep and came to actively dread going to bed, but that’s a different thing.
Lying there, wigging out, I used to think about what if people had literal switches where you could turn them off instantly like a machine. There wouldn’t be a gradual process, just click and you’re out; guaranteeing rest.
I could have definitely used such an augment over the weekend. Also, in a home where I’m typically fighting with my munchkins to go to sleep, I’ve definitely thought about the implications of installing such a switch in them would be too.
When they were baby-babies, I posed myself a philosophical question on a near nightly basis. What if babies had an off switch? But here’s the catch, it was literally an off switch. They weren’t going to sleep like my later sleep-starved thought, but were ceasing to be for however long they were off. Turn them back on again and they were technically alive once more. They wouldn’t grow while off and if you wanted to help your kid sleep, they’d need to be in the “on” position. Follow me so far? OK that wasn’t the question. That’s just the rhetoric.
My philosophical question was: In a world where we could turn newborns off with a switch, how “old” would they actually be? How much longer would that newborn state be preserved?
I guarantee you that after trying to be responsible with such a system, I’d cave in like a week and start trading off nights. One night of sleep for me. One night of sleep for them. My kids might just now be clearing their first “birthday” instead of the two plus years old they actually are.
Sleep and I have always had a weird relationship. My wife loves it. It feels good. It empowers her and she needs like 10 hours every night just to feel normal.
Me? I hate sleep. I think it’s such a waste of time. We spend a third of our lives (well, not me. No now, apparently) asleep and doing nothing. If I could give up sleep without consequences, I’d do so in a heartbeat.
Think of it this way. If someone lived to be 60 years old, then 20 years – 20 years – of that person’s life are spent just lying there. If you gave me the choice of a place to shut down or 20 years of stuff, I’ll take the stuff, please.
I’d always wanted to write a story about a character who’s only superpower was that he didn’t have to sleep. He wouldn’t necessarily be punching bad guys, but he’d be a well-read, artistic, and pretty productive dude.
One of these days I still may write that story.
The flip side to all of this is just because you have more time doesn’t mean you’re more productive. Hell, it could mean the opposite because there’s no rush. What if instead of the most cultured and interesting person, not having to sleep made the most boring and sluggish? Instead of practicing art or a new language with his spare time, he just binge-watched Netflix.
Maybe that’s the story I should be writing …