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I haven't had many mornings where I wake up and feel satisfied with my night of slumber

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jason ChaneyI came across a social media post a while back that really spoke to me.

"Dear naps, I'm sorry I was such a jerk to you when I was a kid."

Funny isn't it — when we were youngsters, free from all the responsibilities of the adult world, sleep was the last thing we wanted. I didn't want to nap, I wanted to play! But now? I just finished yawning for the 10th time this hour. The portion of floor space under my desk looks just big enough to curl into and grab a few z's — if only I could find a nap mat.

Studies of our American society reveal that we are a sleep-deprived people. According to the CDC, at least 28% of adults gets less than the seven hours of sleep needed to fully function and not amble through daily life like an extra from a zombie flick. Interestingly, Oregon is one of the 13 best-rested states with only 28.5%-31.9% of people getting insufficient sleep. Meanwhile, many of the states east of the Mississippi River have a rate between 38% and 44%. Must be more caffeine in the air in those states.

A lot can be blamed for our loss of beauty sleep. Stress from work, kids or relationships occupies our thoughts. An afternoon cup of coffee can turn into a midnight tossing and turning session. Or if you're like me, the moment your head hits the pillow, your brain starts to entertain random trivia or strange hypotheticals that in no way benefit daily life — "I wonder how long it takes a giraffe to vomit ..."

I haven't conducted any interviews or pursued any news stories about sleep deprivation, but I don't need to do that to know I'm not alone in this suffering. People are yawning all around me. Folks are always talking about how tired they are. And I don't know very many adults who start the day without a cup of coffee. Have you seen the lines at the local coffee shops in the morning? We all need a nap! Or to hibernate.

Ah hibernation … wouldn't that be nice? I got to hand it to bears and all the other mammals that sleep away the winter. I don't know how they set that up, but I'm willing to listen. Merry Christmas and goodnight. See you in the spring.

But that is the stuff of fantasies. In fact, I'm starting to think the whole notion of "a full night's sleep" is a bit too Utopian. Ever since my first days of parenthood, when my precious new infant abruptly dashed my Circadian rhythm to pieces, I haven't had many mornings where I wake up and feel satisfied with my slumber. I want desperately to roll back over and hit the snooze button on life for another hour or two.

That is until the weekend arrives, and I take a break from work and ushering kids to school. Then, I rise and shine bright and early whether I want to or not. And equally frustrating is when I finally complete my long day and reach the point where it is time to hit the hay. Suddenly, the daylong feeling of fatigue subsides, and my brain wants me to entertain it with Netflix series and social media binges. Is there something new on YouTube? I'll just take a quick look. Next time I look up, it's nearing midnight and my window of sleep has shrunk by a few precious hours. What have I done?

My search for the holy grail of adequate sleep steered me toward some books and literature that preach the merits of sleep hygiene. That's right, we not only need to keep our bodies and teeth clean, we have to cleanse our brain and our senses and prepare our hapless minds for the slumber we crave. And I'm telling you right up front, sleep hygiene is boring stuff — no screen time within two hours of your target bedtime, avoid sugary or caffeinated beverages during the afternoon and evening, skip the alcoholic night cap, and limit afternoon naps to an hour or less.

I have put this to the test and the scientists are right. These things work — but at what expense? Without screens, sugar or the occasional cocktail, what's left for a fella to do with his evening hours? Deep meaningful conversations with loved ones, reading a book, working out? Sorry, but I think I'll take my chances with insomnia — just kidding.

But perhaps I could take those evening hours and devote them to the study of hibernation. Who knows? I might stumble onto something other animal scientists have missed through the years. Hey, a guy can dream — if I ever manage to fall asleep.


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