Monday, May 12, 2014

Daytime Sleeping

In Erasmus's "A Dialogue on Early Rising", the late riser says "Truly, no sleep is sweeter than that after sunrise." In the course of the dialogue, the early riser thoroughly schools him in the importance of rising early, and the late riser promises to become philosopher rather than "philypno", that is a lover of wisdom rather than of sleep.

The sweetest daytime sleep I ever had was in the days of my earliest rising, one summer during college that I worked on a highway landscape crew. I rose at 4:30 to be at work at 6, left work at 2:30, cleaned up, and slept until 5:30 or 6 pm. On Saturdays I would wake up with a start at 4:30, turn over, and sleep gratefully a few more hours.

But in general daytime sleep has not suited me. I worked nights for three years, and never got used to it. The rest of the world, on its daytime schedule, wants to make its usual noises. Children play, pile drivers drive piles far away or nearby, lawn mowers and leaf blowers roar. One day some neighbors brought in a crew to remove the concrete in their driveway. I could not ignore the noise, though the jackhammer crew could: one young man was sleeping in a wheelbarrow and another on the sidewalk, while the middle-aged man ran the jackhammer.

There is also the matter of light. Beppe Servergnini writes that this is a problem here because Americans do not understand shutters. Maybe so; I have certainly overslept in a couple of European cities behind shutters. And I remember a couple of co-workers on the night shift discussing a useful trick with Venetian blinds: turn them so inside edge is higher. During the summer of the early work days, our family had a "ranch" house, one built with windows set high in the wall, and so easily made dark.

But really, I'd just as soon know when it is light out, and get up. I say this in late middle age, many years after fatherhood taught me to rise with the sun, and the toddler. Erasmus's late riser is said to be 17, an age at one which one generally is inclined to sleep later.

No comments:

Post a Comment