I Hate Sleep
You read that title correctly.
I hate sleep. Seriously, it sucks.
Why are we built such that we have to spend a third of our lives doing nothing? And not even the fun kind of doing nothing, like playing games or reading or meditating. Just literally shutting our huge brains down so biological janitors can wander through our synapses, cleaning out the gunk that accumulates because our brains are hastily slapped together and can't run properly without daily maintenance. Maybe another few million years of evolution will take care of that for us.
And it confuses me when people say that they love sleeping. How do you know? You're asleep! For all you know sleep is hideous torture that you just forget about when you wake up. But if you do love sleep, What are the upsides you're seeing that I'm not? The few times I've actually asked this question I've gotten responses like the following:
- Dreams are good
- I feel better when I wake up
- It's refreshing!
And these are all patently wrong. I realize I'm stating a subjective opinion as if it were objective fact, but it's my blog, I have decreed that I'm allowed to do that. Now that I have set up three straw man opinions, allow me to knock them down.
First off: Dreams. If you are one of those people who has good dreams, the kind where you can fly and eat any food you like, then you get a pass. I am not one of those people. 90% of the dreams I remember are audio only. Just two or more voices, talking in a black void, like an internal podcast. The other ten percent are high-production-value stress factories. I will have beautifully rendered dreams of a tidal wave that destroys a city, or a fire that burns down an entire neighborhood block. I have never flown free in my dreams, I can't eat, read, code, or write in my dreams, because the part of my brain that handles those things is asleep.
The dreams I don't remember are a vast well of residual stress over literally nothing. Something bad happened in my subconscious while I was unconscious. Why should I feel stress over this? And yes I know it's because it's because I'm feeling stress in my waking life, but this feels like I'm getting hit by it coming and going.
Second: Feeling better when you wake up. How? If I've slept for more than five hours I wake up dehydrated, possibly hungry, and stiff. It's like I was dead for a while and decided to stop being dead. Now I gotta un-mummify myself before I can do anything useful.
Which leads to point three: “Sleep is refreshing!” No the heck it is not. The best I can say for sleep is “when I get enough sleep I'm slightly less insane, because the glymphatic system janitors cleaned up my brain sufficient that I can think again” but I still maintain this is a design flaw.
The One Good Kind of Sleep
Is the nap. Naps rock. I find a comfy spot, lay back for a bit, relax, force myself to do nothing but listen to the sound of the world around me...and twenty to thirty minutes later, I go on with my day. I'm not a dehydrated monster, I'm not stiff or sore, I haven't wasted hours. If there were a way to subsist only on naps I would do so, but sadly the research is against this lifestyle. Both actual research, and my experience during my post-grad education.
If someone would invent a pill, or an mRNA shot, or genetic therapy that would allow me to never sleep again in exchange for becoming, say, 10% stupider, because my brain was doing maintenance while I was awake, I would take that deal in a heartbeat, and consider it a good trade. 10% dumber always is better than 100% dumber 33% of the time.