Goodnight, Sweet Sanity

This week is National Sleep Awareness Week. No joke. According to the National Sleep Foundation's web site, the event's purpose is "to promote the importance of quality sleep to health, productivity and safety." Sixty percent of adults experience sleeplessness at least twice a week, and forty percent claim that daytime sleepiness causes substantial problems in their day-to-day activities.

Well, I could have told them that. Just the other day, I fell asleep at my work-study job in the middle of stuffing envelopes with some press releases no one really cares about anyway. One minute, I'm folding some classy Boston University stationary, humming Blondie's "One Way Or Another" quietly to myself - the next, I'm slumped over in my chair, head leaning against my computer's keyboard, pleasantly snoozing. I'm sure it's happened to everyone at least once in their lives - that moment when you wake up and are quite confused to see that your history paper now consists of twenty-eight pages full of the letter "z" repeated ad infinitum. A more interesting twist on this common experience is the addition of a direct supervisor who wakes you up. Trust me.

So, why is America so damn tired all the time? Is it because of our wacky daylight savings time thingies? Is it because of the unyielding pull of our entertaining late night television talk shows? Is it because we're just really not good at scheduling our time well enough to get everything done and still get our recommended eight hours of sleep a day? Well, while eating boxes of Girl Scout cookies and writing this column at 3 o'clock in the morning, I can say that I have a clear and honest answer to this question - it's somebody else's fault.

Man, nothing helps you sleep easy at night like knowing that nothing that goes wrong with your life is your fault. The National Sleep Foundation should put that in their promotional materials. And pay me for coming up with it, because I'm broke as hell and I need to eat something other than cookies I stole from my little sister's friends.

The beauty of this promotional slogan I just made up is that it's not only therapeutic, but it also transfers the source of your woes to something else - and it can be whatever you want it to be! Blame your sleeplessness on that one professor who just can't stop assigning a ton of work every day. Blame it on that entire pint of Ben & Jerry's you just ate without realizing it. If you're really hard up for ideas, just blame it on the rain or something. As long as you don't accept any responsibility for it, you're on the right track.

As an additional bonus, if there's something wrong with you that you can't control, that means there's probably a medicine out there somewhere that can fix it for you. And there's also a doctor - be it a reputable one or a back alley version - who will give those medicines to you.

If you're not down with visiting a quack doctor or if you're just afraid of the color white like me, then I guess you could just take the natural route instead. You could just go through life enjoying the little perks sleep deprivation gives you. I, for one, enjoy having the ability to nap anywhere at anytime with little to no preparation, and these attractive black circles under my eyes sure help me play a more convincing zombie when I'm trying to frighten schoolchildren at recess. But, without a doubt, the best side benefit of being sleep deprived is delirium.

Take me, for instance. According to a quiz on the National Sleep Foundation's web site, I suffer from a level of sleep deprivation that warrants medical attention. If you were to ask me how to get to Kenmore Square right now, I'm liable to say, "Cerulean" and think that that was a perfectly legitimate response to your question. It's really quite a sight to behold. You could even harness this temporary insanity to, say, write an 800-word manifesto about the benefits of your home state. Check it out:

I'm from Connecticut, the Nutmeg State. Did you know that if you eat enough nutmeg, you could go permanently insane? How incredible is that? I think someone once told me our state flower is poisonous, too. Could be wrong, but I like to speculate. Connecticut - we're full of surprises. Deadly surprises.

Sleep deprivation can also send you off on unexplained conversational tangents, which you really don't ever want to have happen, unless you're talking to someone who doesn't understand English. Or is also sleep deprived. Then you can say whatever you want because - believe me - they neither understand you nor care about what you're saying.