The Joys of a Good Morning’s Sleep

Here’s a thing about me: I hate getting out of bed in the morning.

When I was young, my mother warned me to always be careful about using the word “hate.” It was a powerful thing, she told me. It could hurt others’ feelings and eventually turn me into a bitter person. It couldn’t be taken back, either. Once I spoke it into being, it was there to stay.

So trust me when I say I don’t toss the h-word around lightly. I reserve it for talking about the things I truly detest in life, like rampant textspeak among people who should know better, reality television shows, and raisins that fool me into thinking they’re chocolate chips. And getting out of bed in the morning. That one most of all, in fact.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a hedonist when it comes to sleep. My father can testify that I was almost impossible to get out of bed when I was a teenager. I’d strike bargains, tell lies, manufacture distractions, all to give me more morning sleep time.

When I tell people about my hatred for waking up, they usually say I must be lazy or lacking in grownup qualities like drive and focus. While that’s probably true, those folks don’t know what sleep feels like to me, especially the moments just before the alarm sounds—and then the following moments between all the times I hit the snooze button. They can’t possibly understand that feeling, because if they did, they’d be like me, wishing they could stay in bed every morning of their lives.

Although I’m not ashamed of being a sleep enthusiast, I’m big enough to admit to wishing I were a morning person. That’s not to say I trust early risers, because it seems unnatural to enjoy waking up, like abstaining from coffee or forgetting to eat lunch. Still, sometimes I think it would be nice to be an early riser, to be able to have time for things like drinking an extra cup of coffee or two or planning my day.

At eighteen, when I joined the navy, I thought my relationship with sleep would change. It would be difficult at first, but before long, I’d be that guy who sprang out of bed, ready to execute his plans for accomplishing navy tasks. After all, I reasoned, if my military overlords forced me to get up early every morning, it would eventually become a habit. Next thing I knew, I’d be a bona fide morning person.

Unfortunately, that change never happened. If I needed to get up at 3:30 a.m. for a morning watch, I’d drag myself out of my rack with just enough time to get dressed, grab a coffee, and get to my post. At no time during my military career, however, did I spring from any place where I’d been sleeping. The only time I’ve ever sprung from my bed in my entire life, by the way, was about twenty years ago when my cats somehow turned on my stereo at 3 a.m. and blasted the house with Tone Loc’s “Funky Cold Medina.” It’s a true story.

The naysayers tell me to wait until I get older, when my aches, pains, and other biological necessities make me get out of bed. Let’s see how much you like staying in the sack, they say, when your bladder is full and your lower back feels like it’s been trampled by thoroughbred horses. You’ll be up at 4 a.m., sipping coffee, and watching the early morning news with the rest of us. Not only that, they tell me, you’ll have to start going to bed at 9:00 p.m.

Those things could come to pass, I reply, and if they do, I’ll accept my status as a morning person with grace and good cheer. On the other hand, I’m getting older every day, and I love sleep as much as I ever did, especially those beautiful moments just before I’m forced to get up.

In other words, it’s possible, but it hasn’t happened yet.