Do you ever read those articles that say we’re doing everything wrong? We eat cupcakes wrong: You’re supposed to cut the bottom in half and make a sandwich with icing in the middle. We shampoo our hair wrong: You’re not supposed to use hot water. We peel bananas wrong: You’re supposed to crack them open from the bottom. We hold our burgers wrong: You’re supposed to hold them upside down so the taller top of the bun can soak up more grease on the bottom.
It turns out that I’m sleeping wrong, and not just a little wrong — I’m doing it all wrong.
The Huffington Post ran an article, “13 Things Sleep Experts Would Never, Ever Keep in Their Bedroom.” It promised, “Nix these things and get better z’s, guaranteed.” The article quoted authorities from the National Sleep Foundation and American Sleep and Breathing Academy.
I hit 13 for 13, I ran the table, violating every rule. It’s a miracle I get any sleep. My friends will attest, I do my most regretful emailing at 3 am.
Seriously? When I go to bed, if my dog Sally’s not already in bed waiting for me, I go looking for her. She sleeps at the foot of the bed, on my side so I can’t stretch out. Here’s the amazing — and very unfair — thing about our sleeping arrangement.
Sally was picked up as a stray. I adopted her from Citizens for Animal Protection. She had a urinary infection when I got her, so I feed her special dog food only available by prescription. Her dog food costs more per pound than my people food. Sally should thank her lucky stars for me. But if I roll over and accidentally bump her at night, she growls at me. And I apologize.
2. Light-emitting devices
None, except for my indoor-outdoor thermometer, phone, the street light outside my bedroom window, and the hallway light in case Sally has to go downstairs and out the dog door to go potty in the backyard.
I keep the TV on all night. I have about 100 Seinfeld and Impractical Joker episodes on DVR. CNN is always reliable. True story: sports host Sean Pendergast is the same way. One year, we rode the MS150 charity bike ride together, and had to share a hotel room with another person. We had the TV on, naturally, when we went to bed.
A few minutes later, the third wheel got up and turned off the TV. Sean and I shot up in our beds like rigor mortis, and looked at each other with sheer panic in our eyes, which is all we could see in the room.
I’m writing this in bed. (Technicality: This might not qualify as work.)
I keep most of my shoes in the bottom of my bedroom closest, but I have three or four pairs, my main rotation, under my bed. I thought everybody did that.
I occasionally have a late-night snack in bed, but I stay away from anything that crumbles, like garlic bread or pretzels. That’s because I got class.
I’m not a drinker, but I always have a glass of water or Diet Pepsi on the table next to my bed.
I keep a pile of books and magazines on the floor next to my bed. Plus an iPad. Phone. Pants on the bedpost. Dog toys.
I sleep under a big, puffy, warm comforter. I’m thinking of getting one of those 20-pound blankets that bearhug you like grandma on your birthday.
10. Alarm clock
I have three of them, my phone, iPad, and Sally.
11. Night light
Don’t need one. It’s already bright enough in my bedroom to perform surgery.
12. Uncomfortable bedding
You know that rule of thumb, change your mattress every eight years? I’ve missed the last two times. I’ve got a great pillow, though, thin and super firm for stomach sleepers.
Not now, because my son is graduating A&M in two weeks and that would be weird. But when he was a toddler, if he had a bad dream — or any reason — all aboard. Like my dog now, if I nudged him at night, he’d growl at me. I don’t get no respect.