Sleep Always Wins:
Snatch a Slatch — Take a BreakSleep Always Wins: Snatch a Slatch — Take a Break
You Can’t Escape
Even a near certainty of death will not stop you from snoozing, no matter what the consequence. Mountain climbers trapped on top in a cold wind know this or learn this or die. Expiring in your sleep might be painless, but you won’t be thinking of that later.
Slept 12 Hours, Thought I Was Awake
I once slept from 8:15 to 8:15. To the minute. I didn’t even know I had slept at all. It was not my bed. I was apartment-sitting for a friend. I still had my jacket on, and was lying half off the mattress on the floor. Street noise was normal and the window light was about right. In just seconds, the street was quieter, but the window light was about the same and I hadn’t moved, I was still half off the bed. I went out and found lots of stores were shuttered. Finally, I found a newsstand. It had the next day’s newspaper already.
I had slept 12 hours to the minute. I must not have realized, the night before, just how extremely tired I was. So tired, I don’t think I turned over ever, all night.
How to Sleep (In Case You Forget)
Rest and sleep are not the same. Eyes closed and dreamland are better.
Catnap in hidden corners. An hour can work wonders.
If you drop your head onto your arms on a table, get something thick and cushiony, or your arm will tingle from loss of circulation and wake you with a startle.
You don’t need a blanket or lights out. You’re too tired for those to matter.
Moving while you sleep might embarrass you. The solution, surprisingly, is to tell yourself what restrictions you want. Mountain climbers who have to be concerned about rolling off a ledge and tumbling a thousand feet down rock and cracking bones use straps but can’t always. When they can’t, they recognize the risks and then they take a good night’s sleep without rolling. I fell asleep on an indoors couch and surrounded by artwork and I didn’t damage a single piece. If you fall asleep on a bus or train and lean on a stranger’s shoulder, plan not to and you probably won’t. That’s my experience.
If you’re concerned about exact time, set a radio or an Internet computer with sound to a news-oriented 24-hour radio station, preferably a familiar one, so you might hear the time checks. If it’s familiar, you could recognize voice changes that always occur at a certain time. But beware that you might not hear them.
Snap Up or Slow to Rise
At home, I’m a slow waker. When I’m determined to shortchange sleep, I almost snap awake. I have a hard time doing this at home.
No matter how minimalist your home may be, it’s still home, and being asleep feels perfectly normal in whatever you use for a bed, so you’ll likely sleep more hours there, and maybe awaken more sluggishly. In strange quarters, you’re more willing to snap alert.
Lighting alone won’t wake you. Some combination of motivation, discomfort, alarm, and light will usually do it.
Half the sleep a night is one way out. If you don’t have enough days to build up to near-zero snooze, a compromise may carry you. Four hours’ shuteye will often make your day. Depending on what you do and its risks, four could keep you functional.