Just five minutes more.

If you are the average, above-average American, that’s how much more sleep you need.

For some, the hardest part of each day is waking up and getting out of bed. For others, it’s hearing a favorite song used in a commercial for a stool softener.

There is sleeping and there is successful sleeping. I’m trying to stay up later and sleep later. That leaves me feeling more rested. Some people are better at sleeping than others. Maybe sleep is meant only for people without digital devices? My brother Donald could sleep standing up. He was a good sleeper. Good sleeper or not, I reckon most of us have been on the verge of being institutionalized in the Idaho Home for the Chronically Underslept. Why aren’t we better sleepers? Many possible reasons.

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing cabins, dorm rooms and tents with snorers. We all snore, as any fly on the wall could attest, but I’m talking world-class snoring. Accomplished one-man, discordant bands. One whinnied like a weasel. That is, if weasels whinny. Another sounded like a McCulloch chainsaw. I tried shoving pillows into my ears. When I can’t sleep, my priorities shift. I wanted smaller pillows. I stumbled out of bed the next morning feeling as wilted lettuce looks. I felt a week past my bedtime.

Climate change could be the problem. This can be caused by improper thermostat control, too many blankets or not enough blankets. A bad pillow leads to wakefulness. Being too tired or not tired enough can make sleep difficult.

Thoughts can persist in haunting us. A clear conscience is a soft pillow. Sleeplessness might be brought on by plea bargaining with a conscience. We worry about worrying. Worry is a rocking chair. Sitting in one gives us something to do, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. We work when we should be sleeping because we don’t get time-and-a-half for sleeping overtime.

Perhaps we’d offended the Sandman somehow and he became a goalie blocking every shot at sleep. Sleeping becomes grappling. We toss and turn, and then we turn and toss. Our heads become doorknobs, turning this way and that way. A good night’s sleep becomes an urban myth — too good to be true. Even our tired is tired. A guy told me not to lose any sleep over insomnia and that the secret to good sleeping was to dream about dreaming. How do you do that? He added that he slumbered on a sleep number bed that allowed him to adjust the firmness of the mattress. I stayed in a snazzy hotel once when I was wheel tired from excessive driving and spent a mostly sleepless night adjusting the mattress firmness of one of those beds. I was unable to find one to suit me and fell asleep from sheer exhaustion on a mattress set on concrete.

I was on a farm tour once of a diversified farm with everything from garlic to goats. It began to sprinkle. A woman opened her umbrella. One of the goats stiffened and fell over. It was a fainting goat. They do that when startled due to a genetic condition called myotonia congenita. It didn’t look restful.

I’ve never tried counting sheep. In “The Wizard of Oz,” The Cowardly Lion said, “Look at the circles under my eyes, I haven’t slept in weeks!” The Tin Man advised, “Why don’t you try counting sheep?” The Lion replied, “That doesn’t do any good, I’m afraid of them!”

If you can’t snooze, assure yourself that in some cultures, getting no sleep is considered good luck even though it’s probably not. Folklore says when you can’t sleep, it’s because you are awake in someone else’s dream. Find that person!

We’re told not to eat (especially those deep-fried, pickled gizzards), drink, think or watch the news right before bedtime. I read a book before nodding off. I like to close the book after reading a comforting, thoughtful, insightful, cheering or funny passage. I’m not good at recalling my dreams, but I hope the reading makes for pleasant ones. In a vaguely related note, before a surgery, the anesthesiologist instructed me to count down from 100. I’m pretty sure I made it all the way to 98. I had told myself that I was going to remember any thoughts or dreams I’d entertained while I was under. I didn’t remember a thing after counting down to 98.

I used to be tired the next morning if I didn’t get enough sleep. Now I’m tired from then on.

Al Batt is a writer, speaker, storyteller and humorist from rural Hartland, Minnesota. He can be reached at snoeowl@aol.com.

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