On Sleep, pt. 2

Written by Mike Parish, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On Sleep, pt. 2

Henri Luste (1480-????), French explorer, craftsman and inventor, is not a real person. If he had been, he’d probably be a household name. His discovery would have been too unbelievable if it were true; everybody needs to sleep. If people didn’t sleep, they would either be crazy or dead or some combination of the two.

Sleep is a basic, biological need. Though there are times I wish I could stay up all night and work on different projects or talk with certain people, there’s no getting around getting tired. There comes a point when everybody needs rest, even the Neldormieres. Luckily, we’ve been able to extend our hours here and there with lights and electricity, but no matter what time one goes to sleep, they definitely need to stay that way for at least a couple of hours.

The most logical approach with sleep is to wake with the sun and sleep with the stars. Modern living makes this almost an impossibility, even messes with time every year to offset the hours of available daylight. Unless you’re a farmer or a truck driver, you’re probably not getting up at or before dawn.

After many years of waking up groggy, I’ve come to realize that I need eight hours of sleep. Anything more or less and all day I feel like I got run over by a train. Still, I’ll always wait until the last possible minute to get into bed, trying to finish whatever it is I’m doing, even trying to start something new. When there are only so many hours in a day, and so many of those hours are taken up doing things that need to be done, one wants to find all the extra time they can, especially at the cost of sleep.

Sleep deprivation is like being on drugs; studies show that its effects on driving are akin to or much worse than driving drunk. Anyone who’s ever stayed up all night knows what it’s all about. All the little injuries start to come out, the body is one big ache, and the head switches from moments of intense bewilderment to moments of intense clarity. Things, people and situations that would never be funny under normal circumstances, cause laughing fits that last an hour. Life becomes the new hit sitcom of the 21st century.

Rounding the 35-hours-and-no-sleep mark, the hallucinations start. The auditory ones can be frightening; I was at the zoo after not having slept for about 38 hours (a long story), and I swear to this day that a baby chimpanzee asked me what color Monday was. Why destroy your body and brain with illegal substances when you can just as easily do that by staying up all night?

Reports from Luste’s crew as their ship rounded the horizon on November 16th, 1513, depict a sad scene. His crew didn’t want to leave him but he insisted on staying behind with the Neldormieres. “The man was manic, truly happy where we left him. He handed us his journal, told us not to read it until we got back to France. Not a man on that ship dared even a peek, that’s the kind of respect we had for him, that’s the kind of man he was.”

In his journal, the final entry is as follows: “Long after the last breath has left these lungs, I will lie content with the knowledge that I lived the long day and forgot not my dreams, for in the end, men, there will be no time to sleep, no time to dream, no time for anything but today.”

Luste’s body was never found.

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