Jewish World Review Nov. 19, 2012/ 5 Kislev 5773
Fighting sleep is a national pastime
By Mitch Albom
It gave me pause this past week after reading that the
Both 5-Hour Energy and Monster are loaded with caffeine. And most of their users drink them less for the taste than the jolt of energy they need.
And why do they need it?
Because they don't get enough sleep.
Few of us do.
Let's face it. Americans have a love/hate relationship with rest. We want it, but we have too much to do! This of course means sleeping less than we should, which leaves us tired, which makes us want to sleep, which starts the cycle all over again.
If it's true that adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, then aren't most of us walking around exhausted, bleary-eyed, low in the tank? We rise early for the kids, or the factory shift, or to run five miles before work. We stay up late grading papers, or watching TV, or checking endless
Sleep is a natural healer, a true friend to the body. But we fight it like a foreign army. We yawn all day.
"Gosh, I'm so tired."
Does anyone ever say that happily?
I, personally, have been sleep-deprived since middle school. I had to rise at
In college, I hated sleeping at night -- that was when the fun was -- so I socialized late and rose early -- really early -- to study. I popped a few NoDoz in those years. How else to get through finals?
In the early work years, there was so much travel, so many late-night deadlines, that sleep was mostly relegated to airplane seats or naps. It was then I discovered the eye mask, a great way to kid yourself that you are sleeping through a night, not through lunch.
Coffee was like plasma for me. I could do a triple espresso three times a day. I may have kidded myself that it wasn't NoDoz, or, more recently, 5-Hour Energy, but it adds up to the same thing, doesn't it?
All in an effort to fight sleep.
A very wise person recently reminded me of the oft-quoted 23rd Psalm, which gives us the passage, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures...." I always thought "green pastures" was the key to that line. But maybe "maketh me to lie down" is more critical.
Sleep like that is truly heaven-blessed.
But who gets it?
Not kids, it seems. Energy drinks are the fastest growing soft drink in the country. The 5-Hour Energy folks rightfully note that one shot of their product is no worse than a cup or two of coffee. But what if you pop them like jellybeans? It's dangerous -- especially for still-forming teenage bodies. Still, can we blame our kids for thinking it's OK? What kind of example have adults set?
Ironically, as I was writing this, I closed my eyes and drifted off for a minute. A coffee cup was in front of me. I realize how ridiculous a picture that paints.
Kids, take note.
One of my fondest memories is a nap I took in a
I realize now it wasn't just the setting, it was the serenity of being at rest, without an alarm or a deadline. Maybe it's a sign of getting older. But I no longer feel the need to fill every waking hour with activity.
I would much prefer to find a green pasture and make up for about 40 years.
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