Sleep Anytime, Anywhere (2)

Continuing my paean to myself as the unchallenged champion of sleep:

Yesterday, in explaining how I came to be an expert sleeper, I described my life up through college, which ended with hospitalization for exhaustion as I graduated from the University of California.

In my thirties, I enrolled in graduate school at the George Washington University. I wanted to go on learning. The university admitted me provisionally because my undergraduate grades were poor. When I began taking classes, I found out I wasn’t so dumb after all. I outperformed all my fellow students, pulling down straight A’s all the way through to the dissertation and doctorate.

But I was working full time at the National Security Agency (NSA) and taking care of my family—eventually four children—and I overdid it. Doctors diagnosed me again with exhaustion.

The third case of exhaustion came during the fall of Saigon. I lost count of the days and nights my two communicators and I went without sleep and, toward the end, without food, before we were finally evacuated under fire. This time doctors told me I had amoebic dysentery, ear damage from the shelling, and pneumonia due to inadequate diet, insufficient sleep, and muscle fatigue.

So I learned to cherish sleep. I taught myself early to sleep every chance I got, even for fifteen minutes, even sitting up. As a friend gratuitously pointed out to me yesterday, I regularly fall asleep in the shower. Now that I am retired and a full-time author, I enjoy sleep more than I have at any other time of my life.

I read constantly when I’m not writing—I still love learning. My favourite spot for reading is a lounge chair in my sun room. If sleep overcomes me, I allow myself a fifteen-minute nap. My brain somehow keeps track of the time and wakens me when my time is up.

I sleep every afternoon for an hour, and I usually get close to eight hours sleep of every night. I luxuriate in a life that allows me to sleep as much as I want, whenever I want.

I don’t know anyone who enjoys sleep as much as I do. I don’t know anyone who is as good at it as I am. I may not be the master of my soul—Post-Traumatic Stress Injury from my time in combat in Vietnam prevents that—but I am the master of sleep. No one can outsleep me.

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