I've enjoyed so many things in my life. Books and music. Friends and lovers. Children, cats and canines. Not to mention the work that I love. But at 63, there's one thing I can always rely on to make me happy: a good night's sleep.
I wake up each morning, refreshed, then glance at the clock. "That's eight solid hours!" I'll think happily. Then I'll turn right over and head right back to dreamland. Sleeping in. It's my favorite cheap thrill.
Nine hours is my sweet spot. Twelve hours, which I achieved on a recent spa vacation, is my personal best. I just love the way it feels to wake up, refreshed, after hours and hours of delicious, soul-satisfying, care-unraveling slumber.
My friends feel the same way.
"I don't just enjoy sleep," says Stacia. "I wallow in it."
"Sleeping rocks," agrees Gloria.
"It's my happy place," adds Gill. "I only hope that death is as satisfying and comfortable."
"Just give me eight hours and I'm good to go," proclaims Deb. "Unless it's a weekend. Then give me nine. At least."
Science backs us up. Sleep-deprived people get sick more often. They eat more too. Want to drop a few pounds? You can lift weights, speed-walk, or hit the gym and climb those crazy fake stairs. Or just go to bed on time. And stay there.
To crave sleep isn't always good. Hypersomnia (or oversleeping) can be a sign of depression. If I woke up with the blues each morning, instead of bright as a goddamn buttercup, my love of sleep might be cause for alarm, not celebration.
But catching lots of zzz's is definitely working for me. So, I'll dream on. Not that my dreams are anything special. Even given that I can do anything I want—Fly! Perform miracles! Have tawdry sex with my favorite celebrities!—my dream life is one big yawn.
Say I'm planning to take Amtrak from Philly to Manhattan tomorrow. All night, in my dreams, I'll walk to the commuter rail station, take the commuter train to 30th Street Station, purchase a ticket, then board the New York-bound train. Or I'll begin my walk to the station too late and miss the train. Or start my walk with time to spare, but wander around endlessly, unable to locate the train station. Sometimes I'll arrive at the station on time and wait for a train that never arrives.
It's not as if I need to stay asleep to continue to experience that. (In fact, I'd love a dream upgrade. If anybody knows how I can transform my dreams, so that instead of schlepping to the train station all night, I could wing my way to the Big Apple on the back of a unicorn or fly there in the arms of Superman, please get in touch.)
"Can you remember when you didn't want to sleep?" comic Paula Poundstone asks. "Isn't that inconceivable? I guess the definition of adulthood is that you WANT to sleep."
My desire for lots of shut-eye means missing out on certain things. Staying up late! Dancing till dawn! Enjoying an intense, soul-baring 2 A.M. conversation. Attending a midnight showing of "Rocky Horror." In my youth, I enjoyed all those things. Now, I'm happy to trade them all in for hitting the pillow by ten.
"I'll sleep when I'm dead!" some folks announce proudly. Not me. I'm going to grab nine hours right now.
What finally gets me out of bed in the morning? Birdsong? A good morning kiss from my beloved? The promise of a glorious new day? Nope. It's the lure of the one thing I crave even more than sleep.