Opinion

Cawley: To sleep, perchance to dream

Tuesday night presented what’s unfortunately become a similar scenario, lying down in bed unsuccessfully trying to catch some sleep.

I turned 30 two weeks ago and I still can’t seem to figure out how to consistently get a good night’s sleep.

And forget napping during the day, or sleeping on planes or cars when traveling. That’s never successful.

So, as 6 a.m., sunlight and an impending work day crept up on me on Wednesday morning, I had to wrestle with a familiar dilemma: should I just stay awake and spend the day tired before crashing at 8 or 9 p.m., or is a couple of hours of sleep better than nothing?

Ultimately, if I try to stay awake at that time, it leads to me falling asleep in the middle of reading a book — usually by a historical conspiracy theory author like James Rollins or Dan Brown — with all the lights on or with the news on in the background, which leads to some pretty weird dreams.

Luckily, I was able to get a few hours of shut-eye, but as I sit here writing this column mid-way through the day, it’s taken a second large coffee to cancel out the effects of poor sleep.

I’m not sure when insomnia became an issue, but it might have been sometime around college when all-nighters before an exam, which although never a good idea, were common.

It’s not like I haven’t explored the issue. I’ve even taken part in a sleep study, but there’s not really much someone can study when the subject can’t fall asleep. Whoever can sleep hooked up to numerous wires in a hotel room is basically my hero because I couldn’t make it happen.

In fact, I admire anyone who can fall asleep quickly at night at all. This is a life skill that seems to have eluded me.

For someone who has years of difficulty sleeping under their belt, it might seem that I’m one of those people who claim they only need a few hours of sleep to function well during the day.

Not at all. I’m fully in the camp of linking a good night’s sleep to a more successful day. What good are you at work or school if you aren’t alert enough to focus on or absorb anything said or presented to you?

But it seems many people think less than five hours of sleep a night is fine, according to a CNN article published on Wednesday which quoted a lead investigator of a study conducted by researchers at NYU Langone Health’s School of Medicine that appeared in the journal Sleep Health on Tuesday.  

CNN quoted statistics that showed that although people are supposed to get seven to 10 hours of sleep depending on their age, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a third of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night.

Sleep deprivation is threatening the health of up to 45 percent of the global population, according to stats quoted from World Sleep Day.

About 25 percent of Americans experience acute insomnia each year, but about 75 percent of blessed individuals recover without developing chronic insomnia, according to a study last year from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

So, what can be gleaned from these statistics is sleep deprivation and insomnia is common, but knowing that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

For me, and many others who can’t seem to get this sleep thing down, tonight will probably find us lying in our beds, watching the clock tick away and counting down how many hours we’ll get this time around.

Who knows? Maybe tonight will be different. A girl can dream after all.

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