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Not to be too cocky, but I used to be the king of sleeping in. I was always a night owl over a morning person, but when I hit my teenage years, my true talent really started to shine. I could go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 3 p.m. That’s fifteen straight hours of sleep, in case you couldn’t do the math. Nearly two-thirds of my entire day, spent under my comforter (except for one leg, for optimal temperature), dreaming of whatever teenagers dream about (Ashley Murphy, my high school’s regulation hottie).
As much as my parents hated it, I loved to sleep in. “You’re missing out on your whole day!” My mom would snap at me, opening my blinds and exposing my room to daylight for the first time since the previous afternoon. It wasn’t that I needed that much sleep. Realistically, I would have been just as rested had I woken up at noon, but I would miss out on the best feeling in the world – being just half-awake enough to know that you don’t have to get out of your warm bed.
However, in the last three years since graduating college, I’ve never managed to truly sleep in like I used to. Realistically, my opportunities are limited. I have to be up before the sun for work five days out of the week, and it just doesn’t happen for me on the weekends anymore. Most Saturdays and Sundays, I have plans scheduled. And the latest I can push my wakeup is maybe 11 o’clock, giving me time to get to brunch, rec sports, or whatever outdoorsy date I committed to. In addition, a side effect of my postgrad hangovers is the absolute inability to sleep in. I’ll go out until five in the morning, watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan on my Uber home, and wake up four hours later. I’ll feel like complete garbage, but will be unable to fall back asleep. I don’t know if it’s my grown up sleep schedule, or the hangover anxiety that wakes me up, but I can’t even remember the last time I slept past 10.
Last night, spurred by the distant memory of that warm, stay-in-bed-forever feeling I had felt in my youth, I made a plan to sleep the fuck in. I figured I had a pretty good chance at getting over eight hours of sleep for several reasons. First, I haven’t had a regular sleep schedule in several months. I wake up at 6:30 for one of my jobs and go to sleep at 4 a.m. for my other one. Needless to say, my body has no idea what the fuck is going on, and will take sleep any time it is offered. Second, I need to get as much sleep as possible to combat this killer cold I’ve been fighting, so I won’t feel bad about staying in bed for as much of my day as possible. You can’t put a price on good health, right? With strong resolve, I prepared myself for this epic sleep session with the intensity of a professional athlete. I ate a large plate of pasta at 7 p.m., heavy on the meat and sauce, to put me in a respectable food coma. I fine-tuned both my fan and space heater to create a pleasantly warm breeze blowing through my room. I queued up a nature documentary on Netflix, added a second plush blanket to my bed, and most importantly, told my girlfriend she couldn’t spend the night. I was in it to win it, and I couldn’t do that with someone who sets sixteen alarms (not an exaggeration) to get up in the morning.
Well, your boy’s still got the moves. I woke up this morning at 1 p.m., logging a respectable 14 hours of sleep. That feeling I had so craved from my glory days felt just as sweet as an adult, and when my eyes fluttered open for the first time, I felt like I was the king of the world.
Then I stood up.
Immediately, my lower back exploded in pain, unleashing 14 hours of pent-up anger for being immobilized on Walmart mattress. My head spun from the sudden change in elevation and the lack of hydration over the past half-day. My anxiety, which apparently had just been lying in wait, returned two-fold, knowing that I was in a weak and vulnerable state. My mind instantly began listing things I needed to do, and then realized there wasn’t enough time left in the day. Every single muscle and joint in my body was stiff as the
morning here afternoon wood I had woken up with. I was so excited to act like a teenager again, I had forgotten that I have the muscle flexibility of an eighty-year-old truck driver. I stretched for 20 straight minutes and just now have regained the ability to tie my shoes without sitting down.
But the worst part of the whole experience? The realization that my mom was right. I did feel like I had wasted my whole day. The sleep felt good when it lasted, but instead of feeling alive and refreshed, I was groggy and unproductive. I also know that I screwed up my chances of getting to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight, and will instead stare at the ceiling until 3am and have to drink heart-stopping amounts of caffeine to function tomorrow.
I learned my lesson. I’m not 16 anymore, and I can’t act like it. I’ll get another chance to sleep in my when I’m retired or dead, whichever comes sooner. .