Northwestern Notes: Sleep appreciation grows greater with adulthood

With finals looming on the horizon and midterms in full swing, I've begun to feel like one of the undead. I roam the halls at weird hours hoping to find time to read a chapter I've been neglecting or type a paper that is due ASAP.

I've come up with different methods to keep myself jolted: caffeine, yoga, show tunes, anything to stay awake a few extra minutes.

I wonder how it's possible to achieve the doctor-recommended eight hours and graduate on time too? I make B-movie zombies look chipper; and through all of this I am reminded as to how relative things really are.

As a little girl, I hated naps, or sleep of any kind. Bedtime meant that I was missing out on something cool. I was convinced that my folks waited until we were off with the sandman to start leading their nocturnal double-lives.

I would do just about anything to stay up later. My parents were militant when it came to enforcing sleep.

I became the founder of the antisleep movement in my house. My cousins and little sister were pretty obedient, but I was a mastermind at underground toy smuggling. As stealthily as Agent 007 carrying out a mission, I'd manage to sneak She-Ra or Rainbow Bright into naptime. While the rest of the kids slept like angels, I'd catapult myself off my bed (not an easy feat when you reside in the top bunk) to eavesdrop on the adults.

One New Year's, all of my suspicions were confirmed. I'd actually managed to convince my cousin Joey to accompany me on my expedition. It was the latest either of us had ever been up and I figured that it might be the perfect time to catch my folks leading their double-lives.

As we crept down the staircase and into the kitchen we were met by the sounds of boisterous chatter and booming laughter. Watching all of the adults twirling around with party hats and noisemakers, eating sugary goodies, I knew that my long-standing hypothesis was correct. This was what they waited to do after they'd led me off to the shackles of bedtime.

Oh, sure they'd cover their plans nicely by reading stories and administering snacks, but I'd known all along it was a mere plot. Their scheme exposed, I made my presence known. I'd expected anger and to be sentenced back to the bowels of my bedroom. Instead, they allowed us to join their celebration. At the time I didn't realize that their champagne had given me the advantage. Joey and I spent the rest of the night gorging on sugar and joining the ruckus.

These days I can't wait to sleep, it's what keeps me motivated during the day. I tell myself just a few more hours and then you can take a nice long nap.

In one way, basically against my will, I've manage to evade the dreaded bedtime, but with age I've discovered that sleep depravation isn't the New Year's party I'd imagined it to be. In fact it really sucks.

If the child of fifteen years ago were around she'd be thoroughly disappointed. I'm sure she'd see me as something worse than a sell-out, she'd realize that I'm on the verge of becoming one of them - an adult.

Write to Jessie at


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