To Sleep Perchance to Dream, Ah, There's the Rub

Naps are totally luxurious; even frivolous. I know, I took one this afternoon; not because I had to, but because I could. This was no 'power nap' to recharge; this was a completely selfish endeavor. Just the sound of the cicadas and birds singing. It was a cool, damp, cloudy afternoon, therefore perfect for a nap. It was almost a shame to waste such a peaceful afternoon by sleeping. What is it about sleep that makes it so valuable? Aside from all of the scientific research that tells us sleep is required to give our minds and bodies a break, why is sleep so coveted?

When we were young, we fought sleep. We feared we would be missing something. In kindergarten I was forced to take naps. As part of the 'baby boom' my classroom had 64 students. I think 'nap time' was the teachers' way of getting some peace and quiet. We had 'nap rugs' or very thin scraps of variously colored carpets. They all smelled of chalk dust and did not provide any comfort or protection from the cold floor, but we would all lay down to take a nap at the same time. How Mrs. Pizors ever got each and every one of us down at the same time can only be called amazing today. I don't recall getting much sleep during nap time. The floor was hard, we were wearing our school clothes, there were 63 others trying to be quiet and even though we closed the curtains, it was never dark enough. I think 'nap time' lasted 15 minutes; to me it was too long.

Into our teens, sleep becomes a precious commodity as life becomes more complicated. Sleeping til noon on the week-ends is practically required. Then we enter college and once again, sleep becomes elusive. There is so much to do and never enough time, just ask any college student.

Sleep becomes even more precious as we get older. As soon as a couple finds they are expecting, someone will tell them 'they will never get a good nights' sleep again'. What a buzz kill. But, how completely true. New parents are told to get some sleep as soon as the new baby falls asleep. As if. That is just as likely to happen as getting 64 six-year-olds to nap at the same time.

Those who can fall asleep anywhere will never understand the rest of the population that tosses and turns all night. There are plenty of nights when my brain will simply not shut down; chamomile tea, a warm room and cozy pillows just don't work. The problem is you never know when 'that night' is going to occur. For two nights family of skunks has decided to take a night stroll that turned into an encounter with a cat. The stench woke me up both nights; returning to sleep was impossible. I lit a candle to cover the odor and then worried about the candle setting something on fire.

A good nights' rest is unpredictable: I think that is the real luxury of sleep.

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