An old, old friend of mine runs the website Needcoffee.com. It’s a fun website, full of twists, turns and cunning wit. It also centers its existence around the thesis that humans do not need to sleep.
Two weeks ago I was in New Orleans, LA on a trip for work. While we’re sitting at our chosen location pounding away on keyboards and debating serious elements of our system and the politics behind it, I found myself engaged in a conversation with one of my coworkers. It was the chief engineer, of whom I highly respect. When he speaks on all things NASA IT, I listen.
That is, until I passed out.
Yeah, that’s what I said. You see, to me, it seemed like I only blinked. Only when I blinked, the look on his face was wide-mouthed shock. Sensing that something amazing had just happened, I looked at him quizzically. “What? What happened?”
“You just passed out. Are you okie?”
I figured that maybe I was just a little tired and didn’t hide it well. “I… I did what? Sure I wasn’t resting my eyes?”
“No. Your eyes rolled back and your head fell over. You fell asleep while I was talking to you!”
Of course, everyone is going to take advantage of this and make the obvious jokes. Oh, your conversation must be boring. Haha! You totally put him to sleep! Amazing!
The sad thing here is that I actually did fall asleep. This is a secret I’ve been hiding for the better part of a year now – I’ve not been able to keep myself fully awake during the day. Sometime during the daylight hours, usually about 30 minutes after lunch, I suddenly begin to completely pass out over and over again. My head rolls over and my eyelids feel like someone is pressing down upon them. My legs and arms jerk around occasionally as I try to regain control, but it just doesn’t happen.
And yeah, I’ll just level with you. It’s been happening while I was driving too.
When I was in middle and high school, I was the champion of the late night owl. The nighttime belonged to me (well, at maybe Widgett at Needcoffee.com too, since… well, he was quite the pro as well). It was when i was the most creative with anything and everything. It was my peaceful time. It was my time away from the world.
Turns out that lack of sleep has been slowly catching up with me. Not only the lack of sleep, but now it seems my body has completely forgotten how to sleep. I’ve developed this incredible snore. It’s the kind that some sound artist would probably kill to record and use in the next Lord of the Rings film as an unholy creature’s growl. The wife pointed out several years ago that I tend to just stop breathing while I’m snoring. She used to kick me awake when that happened, fearing that I would just pass away from this existence in my sleep. No such luck, however, as I have managed to hang on to my immortal soul for now.
The past six to nine months have been especially bad. My creativity has suffered. My mood has suffered (greatly – just ask anyone in my family). My sarcasm has flourished. My motivation has withered. My temper has blossomed into a beast unto its own. My blood pressure has gone borderline to high. You name it, it’s happened.
So I finally decided that perhaps it was time to ask a doctor about it. I did that last week and after talking with him, I’m practically elated with the news that just about every item I described could be traced to that poor, roaring sleep that I have every night. Good news, but they cannot work me into a sleep study clinic until mid-June after I return from WWDC 2009.
I was prescribed some Provigil. This drug is something of a miracle in that it has kept me awake and alert for most of the day. It turns out that if I drink too much coffee alongside this bastard that I tend to make myself more sleepy, which is something I need to report to Widgett one day.
Anyway, thanks to theater, writing and IT… and… well, just myself… I’ve now joined the ranks of the diagnosed narcoleptics and sleep apnea sufferers. I was always wondering what health condition I would end up with. Thankfully, this is treatable and you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to treat it. I feel like I’m entering a battle to get my life back in many ways. Not only do I hope to get my motivation and creativity back, I hope to be a better father to my kids and a better husband to my wife. I don’t feel like I’ve been the role model of much of anything the past few years.
I hope I’ve started down the path to changing that.
One thing I’ve definitely learned, kids. It’s uncool to skip out on your sleep. Give yourself time to rest. Put that damn game down and sleep.
Wow, look at the time… think I need to take some of my own advice. Anyway, here’s to hoping that I also get an increase in blogging out of this as well.
Onward and upw… zzZzzzZ.