That's the name of a book filled with a bunch of laugh out loud good advice to humans from cats.
If you pay attention to such things, you've probably noticed increasing numbers of articles over the past decade or so about humans, at least American humans having problems falling to sleep, staying asleep, and getting back to sleep after waking in the wee hours.
Normally, I do not have much of a problem falling to sleep. I usually do wake up around three but then fall back to sleep after doing an abbreviated round of the NYT Spelling Bee or listening to some YouTube thing or podcast that puts me out within minutes. (Yes, Arianna. I sleep with my phone within reach.)
When I do have a sleepless night, the new day feels like walking the ocean floor with a two tonne weight attached to my frontal lobe. I have great sympathy for other humans with sleep deprivation and do not understand how they manage.
I like to rise at or before dawn and would even say that part of my belief system for most of my life is that it's a "good" thing to do. Early to rise and all that. Recently though, I've been both wanting to sleep late and fighting the urge. This is probably an unnecessary psychic battle. I mean, either wake up early and take a nap or something or just sleep late and deal with it.
As the cover kitty dictates in Francesco Marciuliano's book, more sleep is not a bad idea. Roger Federer and LeBron James both sleep 12 hours a day. Usain Bolt, Venus Williams, and Maria Sharapova sleep up to ten hours. The benefits are related to recovery, reduction of inflammation, and apparently promote longevity. If you're wondering what time Federer goes to bed and wakes up, apparently, he sleeps about 10 hours overnight with a one- to two-hour nap during the day.
"If I don't sleep 11 to 12 hours per day, it’s not right. If I don't have that amount of sleep, I hurt myself." —Roger Federer
Let's say that an artist is a creative athlete. If you identify as an artist, I invite you to consider your sleep habits. Even if you don't identify as an artist, consider the daily and overall stresses we've all been experiencing over the past two- to six-years.
If you're healthy and fully expressive and "succeeding", well, good for you. Really. But I think that an awful lot of artists and just... people... are currently somewhere on the spectrum of healing and recovery. I certainly am. If sleeping more is going to help me, I’m going to let myself sleep more.
If you are resistant to allowing yourself to sleep more, if only to help yourself heal and recover from whatever it is you have been or are going through, I invite you to ask yourself why. What, exactly is wrong with sleeping more? When and if you can arrive at an answer to that question, then ask yourself where you got that idea.
Adjusting to the idea that more sleep is beneficial might be a tall order. Mythologically, artists follow their own idiosyncratic cycles of waking and sleeping. Some writers wake at ungodly hours to get writing time in before their days begin. Some stay up late, late, late to work by the proverbial candle light.
In my amazing youth, I was regularly invited to parties at Pia Gilbert's house, North of Montana in Santa Monica. Pia would host parties to entertain luminaries of the music, dance, and theater world who were performing in town. She was so lovely and gracious and inclusive and inviting and I met more remarkable people at her house than I can remember. I do remember sitting on the carpet next to an armchair fully occupied by John Houseman, gabbing away with him about the interaction between the various Julliard Schools. For such a daunting presence, he was very kind.
Pia once hosted a party for the wild man composer, Peter Maxwell Davies. Obviously, I’ve rarely shied away from engaging anyone but distinctly remember hesitating to approach Davies. I'd heard that he would seclude himself in a remote location where he would compose day and night and then, upon completion of the piece, would return to some more civil dwelling, fall on and devour a huge leg of mutton or something and then go to sleep for days. I don't know if this is true but he did live on one of the more remote Orkney Islands and was once given a warning for cooking a protected species.
But I digress. But you get my point about the mythology of artists working at all hours, often sacrificing sleep. Of course, you don't have to be influenced by some creative mythology. Just living in the matrix of consumer capitalism with its 40+ hour work week and all that goes along with that is enough to make anyone think that they really can live with a very few hours of sleep. There are probably plenty of people who thrive on such. I am not one of them.
I doubt that I would ever regularly aim for 12 hours of sleep, or even 10. I'm not sure that I could sleep 12 hours. But it is something to consider. Personally, I feel fabulous after a full, uninterrupted night of good, deep sleep. And it's not just because I feel rested and rejuvenated. It's because I can think straight and usually wake with a solution to something I could not quite work out the day before.
That's because we are brainwashed while we sleep! A watery liquid called cerebrospinal fluid rhythmically pulses through our brains flushing out toxic, memory-impairing proteins. I like this idea a lot. In fact, I like this so much, I want to go to sleep right now. But I’ll wait till I finish this. You can read about brainwashing in a 2013 article here and a 2019 study here.
If you do want to sleep more, you can find plenty of recommendations on how to fall asleep and stay asleep if you have trouble doing so naturally. I'll share such a list at some point in the future but I'm going to finish up my work now and then get ready for bed.
Just out of curiosity, how many hours do you usually sleep at night?
©2021 Suzanne McDermott