June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

One of the clearest things I’ve learned as an adult is this: No one cares if you’re tired.

Adults’ default setting is “tired.” There are two kinds of adults: The kind who fall asleep as their head is falling toward the pillow, and the kind that lie in bed for hours getting mad at each one of their pillows individually. And they always marry each other.

And which way is better? I don’t know. Because you’re always claiming to be tired, and your spouse is always claiming to be tired. I mean, part of that is that the key to a happy marriage is to never let your spouse know if you’ve had a good night’s sleep, but in general, you’re probably both tired.

And if your own spouse doesn’t care, neither does anyone else, and you can tell because it’s not like anyone’s advice is actually designed to help you at all.

“You should be getting more sleep!” they say.

“Wow! How’d you think of that? Huh. Should I be writing this down?”

It’s like if you complain to people that you’re broke, and they say, “You should get more money!”

“Oh yeah! Huh.”

90% of being a financial consultant is just repeating that line.

So clearly, no one’s going to give you usable advice here, and you’re totally on your own. Fortunately, I have a thought. I was up nights figuring this out.

So it might not be coherent.

The thing is that whenever you say you don’t have time to work out, everyone’s actually helpful:

“Oh, you can get two minutes in here and there.”

“Oh, you can work out while you’re doing housework.”

“You can work out at your desk.”

Well, I don’t get enough sleep, so should I do that? Sleep during housework? Sleep at my desk? I mean, you try to get two minutes here or there—at a shiur, at the Shabbos table, on Friday nights on the couch—and everyone makes fun of you. Does anyone make fun of you for working out at weird times? Maybe.

And it’s not just exercise. When it comes to learning, too, if you don’t really have time for a seder, everyone says, “Get a minute in here and there. Learn on the train, at your desk, while doing housework…” Everyone knows someone who made a siyum that way. Usually someone’s grandfather who’s been doing it since he was 20. But do we know anyone who caught up on sleep that way?

Though do we actually know anyone who got into shape that way?

So I say that we should do this with sleep. For example, my mesivta students do this. I guess they hear about it all morning in regards to learning, and they learn plenty, so instead they apply it to sleep. And I know this because they do it during my class.

So I say we should live by this philosophy. As Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi said, “Me talmidai yoser mikulam.”

But when do we do this? I already learn and work out while I’m doing housework. I can’t sleep then, too.

Though what if I slept while working out? There’s no reason I need my eyes open during pushups. Maybe during jumping jacks. But for anything where I’m on the floor, I can really just close my eyes.

The main issue is that sleeping at random times is not as socially acceptable as learning or working out. You actually get into trouble for being asleep. It’s all accusatory: “Were you asleep just now?”

“No! No!” you say, while trying to make your voice sound lower-pitched so it doesn’t sound like they just woke you up.

And there are definitely times of the day that you can get your two or three minutes in.—For example, if you wake up at 7:27 and you have to get up at 7:30, go back to sleep! Three minutes is three minutes. And if you wake up early so you can check your phone in bed, do that with one eye so that the other eye can get some extra sleep.—If you have to get up for something in the middle of the night, keep your eyes closed. You keep your eyes closed anyway if you’re trying to continue the dream you’ve been having.—If you have a job that you can mamesh do with your eyes closed, mamesh do that. Except maybe being a bus driver. Like right now, I’m typing with my eyes closed. Sure, I’m probably making spelling mistakes, but I can go back afterward and catch them, and that will be quicker than keeping my eyes open the entire time that I’m working. The only annoying thing is when I realize afterward that I wasn’t sitting squarely in front of my keyboard and have been off by one letter to the right for an entire article.

—You can also be one of those people who sleep on the bus or train, though that requires a certain amount of confidence that they know that they’re not going to miss their stop. I mean, you can learn on the train, right? Though you can’t really work out on the train. Though actually, you could—you just put a hat out in front of you, and people will give you money.—When you’re at the doctor, while you’re waiting for him to come in, you can fall asleep on that paper they put down. Just leave a note for him to start the exam without waking you. Blood pressure particularly. That will get you some nice numbers.

“But what about sleep cycles?” you ask. “Isn’t sleep less effective if you wake up in the middle of a cycle?” Well, workout cycles long enough to shvitz are more effective and learning sedarim long enough to cover entire sugyos at once are more effective. You do what you can.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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