The word “sleep” doesn’t have enough e’s.
It should always be spelled “sleeep”. Or even “sleeeeeeeeep’.
It’s such an inviting, comforting word to me. I realize part of the reason I love it is that I’m really, really good at it. If sleep eluded me, it would seem like a cursed word (pronounce curse’ -ed). It almost never eludes me. In fact, it often hunts me down.
And I sleep heavily. Always have. When I was a young adult, I lived in a house on a busy street corner. In the summer, I would sleep with all the windows open to stay cool. The noise never bothered me. Nice, right? Until one morning I woke up and there were police cars and fire engines crowded around the corner, responding to a truck that drove through the plate-glass windows of the Hallmark store across the street – about 100 feet from my sleepy head. If that wouldn’t awaken me… one wonders.
I am neither graceful nor delicate when I sleep. I snore like a house afire (a Midwestern figure of speech meaning “like crazy”). I’m not like some people who can sleep absolutely anywhere. I can sleep on planes and in cars but not at the dinner table or in an airport.
My husband, John, is one who can – and does – sleep anywhere. He was a tanker in the Army, so he can turn a steel turret into a cradle. It may have been because of his sleep apnea, too, discovered in his forties, which meant he had never slept well. He was perpetually sleep deprived, so nothing could stop the sleep when it came. Now he wears a CPAP mask over his nose at night. He purrs like a kitten with that thing on, so now I am the one keeping the company awake at night.
The kids are pretty used to my snoring, but they’re mortified if I fall asleep in front of the TV when their friends are over. I often wake myself up with a violent, open-mouthed snort. Same thing happens on planes. No use playing that off. I wake with a jolt to everyone within ten feet looking at me in shock. So embarrassing. But still: worth it.
The good news is that this amazing ability to sleep is a gift John and I passed down to our four kids. From the day we brought each one home from the hospital, they slept like logs. No kidding. Sometimes we had to wake them up to feed them. Other parents were green with envy. In fact, some were downright hostile about it, accusing us of spiking their bottle or administering hypnosis or something. I think it was their own sleep deprivation that brought out these nasty feelings. Can’t say as I blame them.
When our first was a newborn, I recall telling a friend this amazing fact, and she gasped and said, “Well you CAN’T let her SLEEP for God’s sake! She’ll STARVE. Newborns need to eat every two or three hours!” This flipped us out, of course, being new parents. So we asked our wonderful Polish pediatrician what we should do about our sweet baby’s extreme sleep habits. The doc wisely said (in her thick Polish accent which came to mean comfort to us), “Let hair sleeeep. Eef she ees hahngree, shee weel wake UP and ASK you to feeeed hair.”
So we did. She kept gaining weight just as she should and we all slept like babies.
Some theorized that she did cry and we slept through it. Possible, I suppose. I mean, if a tree falls in the woods and the Marsellas are sleeping, does it make a sound?
We think it’s because our kids have always slept between us for the first six months or so. (Controversial, I know, but it sure worked for us.) I think when the baby started to stir, I would just roll over and nurse her without really waking up and the baby never fully awakened either. So 6 or 7 AM would roll around and we’d all be fresh as daisies.
And the same thing happened with the next baby. And the next. And the last. All four. Gold medal sleepers.
When the kids were small – ages 4-11 – we went on a vacation to Disneyland. As a special treat, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. It was a wonderful trip, as Disney vacations tend to be. Every detail was enchanting. On the last day of that vacation, we were exiting the elevator and we were personally greeted by….guess who….. MICKEY MOUSE HIMSELF! We had him all to ourselves and we took lots of pictures. His handler explained to us that Mickey was treating us all to breakfast, and he led us around the corner to a beautiful private buffet being enjoyed by some of the other families from our tower. We were shocked and delighted and we began to serve ourselves. John and I looked at one another and mumbled that we thought there must be some mistake. “Should we tell them we are not with a group or a tour or anything? I don’t think this was meant for us.”
“Yeah, we’d better tell them.”
So John went to one of the management-looking Castmembers and said, “I think there must be some mistake. We aren’t supposed to be getting a breakfast with our stay.”
“Oh, YES!” the suit exclaimed. “This is just our way of apologizing for the inconvenience you experienced last night.”
“Yes. No one likes to be evacuated in the middle of the night to screeching alarms!” Chuckle chuckle chuckle.
“Uh, we didn’t have to evacuate last night.” John puzzled.
Another manager had joined us and heard John’s last comment.
“Uh, may I ask what floor you were on, sir?”
“We were on the 8th.”
The managers exchanged a concerned glance. “You didn’t hear any alarms?”
“Uh, no. Honey, did you hear any alarms last night?”
“No,” I replied. “Slept like a baby. All six of us did.”
John concluded, “Well,we really don’t deserve this breakfast. We weren’t inconvenienced at all!”
They were, of course, more concerned than ever that a family of six was not successfully evacuated from their hotel as they should have been. Lots of apologies. Assurances that this would be investigated.
Seeing their point, we ate like kings.
Luckily, so far our sleep advantages haven’t killed us. On the contrary, our ability to sleep like this has probably added many years to our lives. We’re willing to submit to genetic tests to isolate this sleep-gene we seem to be passing along. If we identify it, we’ll bottle it and make a fortune.
Because nothing is sweeter than blissful sleep.