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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sleep Please...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Joe Sullivan
People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one. -- Leo J. Burke

A while back there was a story about a lad who fell asleep on his school bus and wasn't found for hours.

Several years ago I remember a story about a man who woke up from a nap on his living room sofa and realized his house had been blown away by a tornado.

Just this week came the story of an airline passenger who fell asleep during her flight and was awakened, by the cleaning crew, several hours after the plane landed.

Many of you see those stories and wonder how a school bus driver could be so negligent. Or how, in the day of supposedly supertight air-travel security, a sleeping woman could be overlooked after all the other passengers had left the plane.

Some of you might even be aghast at the potential for peril in these situations.


I say send me a bottle -- a big one -- of whatever those sleeping Van Winkles have been drinking.

There was a time, and I remember it well, when I would go to bed after "The Tonight Show" and sleep soundly until my alarm went off at 6 a.m. the next morning.

I understand that the experts say older folks need less sleep. And I'd go along with that if I could go to bed at a decent hour and get up seven hours later without all those interruptions that occur when your body manages to keep you awake.

My doctor asked at my most recent annual checkup if I was having problems sleeping.

This is, in my opinion, a trick question. Let's examine its pitfalls.

If "sleeping" means falling asleep, no, I don't have any problems. I fall asleep watching TV or during a meeting with no effort whatsoever.

If "sleeping" means getting an adequate amount of rest, no, I don't have any problems. Even though I wake up several times during the night, I wake up refreshed and ready to go.

But if "sleeping" means going to bed and dozing blissfully through the night, not even realizing when you turn over or pull most of the covers off your wife, yes, I have some issues.

One of the things that wakes me up is my dreams. I used to dream ordinary dreams that gave me a glimpse of my parallel universe in which I can float -- this is great fun -- down a flight of stairs.

Nowadays, my dreams frequently become loud and rambunctious. I shout. Sometimes what I yell would make a Puritan pee his pants.

And I hit. In my dreams, someone deserving of a good smack gets what's coming to him. But in real life my sleep-induced punches are aimed indiscriminately. You can see the potential danger for my bed partner, who has managed to escape serious injury so far.

Considering how I sleep at home, you can imagine how much rest I get when we travel. I don't like strange beds or strange pillows. The temperature in a hotel room is never right. And there's always an elevator or ice machine somewhere that makes noises you never hear at home.

I think there should be a study -- government-funded, of course -- of those sleepers who wind up in news stories. There's something they have in common. And I want it.

R. Joe Sullivan is editorial page editor at the Southeast Missourian. You can contact him at


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R. Joe Sullivan
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