The Second Third, Week 18: Sleep

Yale has a tradition called Feb Club — as I recall, every night of the shortest month of the year (and the long denouement of winter) someone hosted a party somewhere in the general vicinity of Yale, and everyone was invited. 28 parties in 28 days. Intensity in ten cities (or at least three: New Haven, New York, and Boston). Or so I was told.

See, I never did the whole Feb Club thing. Why? Wasn’t much of a partier, not enough disposable income, and to be honest, I need my sleep. I also only ever pulled one all-nighter in my entire academic career.* I lived by the creed that it was always better to be half-studied and well-rested than the opposite.

People always say eight hours is ideal, but I don’t know anyone who gets more than six or seven hours a night on a regular basis. I also don’t know any adult who sleeps soundly through the night. (I’d pay for a couple hours of the drooling unconsciousness of my children!)

I also know certain people who thrive on less than eight hours. But not me. Eight hours is perfect. Four to five hours can work for a night or so if I’ve got something to pull me through the next day: an exciting road trip, hunting, that sort of thing. But after six or seven hours — my typical amount — waking is like swimming through molasses. I’m dead tired all day. And that’s most days.

I could attempt to train my body to do more with less, but I don’t want to. As I recall, the Feb Club slogan used to be, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” I was never less interested in accelerating the process. In my Second Third, I want to get to bed earlier. And sleep just a little past sun-up. Because those stolen minutes are the best.

*It was the last anthropology paper I ever wrote, as a senior, for a professor I’d had for two or three other classes. I didn’t have a topic until the night before. He gave me a B-, not because it wasn’t well written or accurate, but because I apparently regurgitated a lecture from one of his classes two years earlier.

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