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February 28, 2013

Getting a good night's sleep a luxury

One dilemma has always piqued my curiosity.

How did Rip Van Winkle sleep for 20 years and have the world slip by him? Okay, so it’s as much fiction as poppycock, but Washington Irving turned the classic into one of the most endeared stories in American literature.

And guys like me bought into it at a very young age. Rip was the man. He left a nagging wife, slept through a war, and returned from a deep sleep to find his troubles gone.

In some ways, we all look to a good night’s rest as a solution to our problems, provided we’re not held hostage by them.

I do my best thinking in bed. It’s true. Being a lousy sleeper, I lie awake nights like a zombie, thinking my days through and what my next column idea may carry.

Maybe it’s all that carrot juice I’ve been drinking, allowing me to see through my eyelids. To put it bluntly, sleep and I are strange bedfellows.

It never used to be this way. I once slept through guard duty in the Army and got busted a rank. A trip to the theater had me nodding off in my seat. A long, monotonous trip in the car often has me pulling into a rest stop for a quick wink.

Much to my embarrassment, I’ve dozed off occasionally in church, right in the midst of my pastor’s sermon, and later had the audacity to tell him how much I enjoyed his homily.

But beds are my albatross, it seems.

I’ve tried every trick in the book. I’ve turned to each side, laid on my back, listened to Brahms’s “Lullaby” and other soothing music, even counted sheep.

A friend suggested I count 100 bottles of beer on the wall — backwards. All that did was make me intoxicated with frenzy.

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