Behind the Giraffe, Part 5: On My Lack of Sleep
I don’t have conventional sleeping hours.
I realized this the first time I played Super Mario RPG and went on an questionable six hour gaming binge that lasted from 10PM until 4AM. My parents were asleep, my siblings were asleep, and even my dog calmly sprawled out on the spot where my own body should have been. Mind you, I was a boring fourth grader at the time with the inability to stay up past 9PM without yawning, so this was all coming as a shock to me.
Excluding the time I stole cupcakes from my second grade potluck, this was my first deliberate act of social deviance.
Of course, I know better now and being immersed in the age of technology and its chronic stimulation, the merits of my first sleep strike seems much less significant. These days, at 3AM I’m almost always awake. Probably online. Chances are you’ll find over forty of your friends online past midnight as well, despite having work the following morning. Or an exam. Or some prior engagement demanding the coordinated usage of heavy machinery. Or maybe your friends are partying their brains out in the city, leaving behind cellphones and strangers in bathroom stalls. We live in such a busy, hyper-connected world that even sleep itself is becoming a hindrance, congesting busy schedules and keeping hard-working families from spending actual family time, which is counterintuitive because, like families, sleep is kind of really important.
I know that. But I don’t take my own advice. My typical schedule goes as such:
- 4AM: sleep for two hours.
- 6AM: Wake up, go to work.
- 3PM: Return. Edit/shoot photos.
- 5PM: Sleep for two hours.
- 7PM: Dinner with friends for two hours.
- 9PM: Write. Check Facebook.
- 10PM: Read something.
- 11PM: Quick nap.
- 11:30PM: Back on computer.
- 1:30AM: Beer?
- 2:00AM: Chat with other insomniacs.
- 4AM: Sleep for ten hours…maybe.
Of course, I’m oversimplifying but you get the picture.
Why do I do this to myself? I don’t sleep (normally) for many reasons.
For one, I don’t particularly enjoy sleep. The subsequent energy and heightened awareness are great but for the time in which I’m immobilized, I’m not really savoring it consciously. It’s hedonistic for me to say but there’s a lot of other activities I’d rather be engaged in than static breathing. Like reading. Taking pictures. Editing my photo backlog. Talking to a friend. Playing video games. Baking. Love-making. Talking to myself. Writing. The list goes on.
Second, none of my dreams are even that appealing. Out of ten dreams, only one of them will be entertaining. I’ll be Dragon Punching zombies in the Congo or snowboarding the Amazon waterfalls (which probably only makes sense in dream logic). The other nine are confusing, ominous shit storms, presumably cryptic manifestations of lingering stressors in my life. Of chefs throwing butcher knives at me, me rushing to finish homework despite having graduated already, visions of the Apocalpyse, of demons, of financial concerns, of muggings long past, or lovers who have left leaving once more. I don’t tend to bottle shit up but my sleep would argue otherwise.
Third, I’m a huge hermit. By nature. My brain can’t handle too much stimulation at once without frying itself out. I’m like a solar powered battery; a place like Time Square can blow me up. Night time is typically the only hours in which I have peace of noise and surrounding. On a typically busy day, I’ll be extremely active from noon to seven pm earliest. Beyond those hours, I just want to relax. With a wonderful lady, or three friends and not enough beer. I draw the most energy from quiet environments. I have this crackpot belief that everyone emits a low-frequency static and that this energy contaminates our own. Like distorted ki or something. When everyone else (or the majority thereof) is asleep on earth—our brains find its truest reception.
Lastly, my best friends are nocturnal as well and late night is usually the best time in which to connect with them. You know these people. If you’re reading this essay you’re probably one, too. A stoner. A loafer. A bright-eyed romantic desperately looking for an intangible more. An artist. An insomniac. An overworked white collar. A disgruntled blue one. Someone for whom the term “conventional sleeping hours” holds no weight because “conventional waking hours” holds little satisfaction. These are the people I connect best with because our minds run on the same frequency, a wavelength that finds sustenance in a lack thereof, on a bed with no mattress and comfort in no sleep.
That’s what I believe.
Or maybe I’m just being delirious because it’s 4:38AM and I haven’t slept in 16 hours.