I just wanted to let you know how revitalized I’m feeling after yet another successful night’s rest. Didn’t quite grab eight hours if you deduct my trip to the bathroom and my having to reposition the cat that one time, but in each case you’ll be pleased to hear that I was able to resume my sleep almost immediately. (My dreams spliced together seamlessly, I might add.) There’s nothing extraordinary about what I did, of course — any normal person could pull it off — but boy, did it feel good!
Now, I want to help you, if you’d let me. My first recommendation is that you turn the clock toward the wall. This way, you can end the torment of those molten numbers hovering in the darkness as you fail to sleep. It’s absolutely critical, however, that you not stay awake wondering if your mental tally of elapsed hours and minutes matches that of the clock’s display. I bet you could exhaust a whole night doing that.
You also might want to consider visualization. Come up with a mental task intended to draw your attention away from the effort of nodding off, thereby allowing your automatic sleep mechanisms to engage. You can imagine something dull like a sequence of numbers, or project yourself into a more engrossing scenario: “I am the Super Bowl MVP”; “I am Malcolm X”; “I am the Hamburglar.” Of course you’ll need to be wary of the fact that the gnawing, self-conscious awareness of visualizing can get in the way of actually engaging in said visualization.
But maybe you don’t even need my advice. Perhaps you can use the late hours to work on your novel, your quilt, or your Battle of Shiloh diorama — anything to distract you from the fact that recent studies showed that people who went without sleep for nineteen hours scored significantly lower on reflex tests than people with a blood-alcohol level of .08. (That’s the legal standard for intoxication in many states.) And whether you’ve just poured calamine lotion in your cereal or stitched up Mr. Clark after his cesarean section, I implore you not to dwell on the reams of research attesting to how sleep deprivation impairs memory and judgment and is even correlated to a significantly shortened life- span. Likewise, while you’re waiting outside an elementary school for a random kindergarten teacher to pistol-whip, keep in mind that a good night’s sleep, which you’re incapable of, dramatically improves mood. I should stop here. You probably want to jump into a shower that you won’t be able to feel against your insensate zombie flesh and get out into a world of people and objects that will all seem fatally distant and unreal.
Besides, I have a productive day ahead of me.