Excuse me, do you have time for —
Great! So, we’re taking a survey. Do you get enough —
OK, I’m sorry for the deprivations your distressingly broad reply suggests, but we’re looking for something specific here. Do you get enough sleep?
Great! I mean, no, sad. To be specific, have you had trouble sleeping in 15 of the last 30 days?
I see. And can you give me any specific examples?
SURVEYS ON THE PHONE THAT CALL WHEN I AM NAPPING.
Have you had an experience like this? Then perhaps you were queried by the Centers for Disease Control. They just released a study about Americans’ sleep problems, and the Washington Post did a story titled “A new study reveals where Americans have the most trouble sleeping.” You might think: band practice, gun range, chain-saw testing facility, rooms with a poorly-taped-shut box of scorpions in the corner, and so on.
No, it’s all about the geographical locations where sleep is rare. Of course one goes to the Minnesota findings, because our sense of self-worth is predicated on topping every survey about General and Specific Fabulousnesss, as if “Best Place To Almost Get Flattened by a Biker Who Has Shins like Canned Hams” should make us walk around with our thumbs looped to our suspenders, thinking “topped that one, too.”
But wait. We don’t want to top this poll. We want to be at the bottom. You assume that places like New York City are on the top, because cabbies drive around at 3 a.m. stabbing the horn out of existential despair, or a small town in North Dakota that has oil trains with 175 cars rumbling through every hour, making the Hummel figurines on the shelf dance and shatter. Surely we sleep the sleep of the just and the virtuous.
Except no one thinks they get enough sleep. Do you? Everyone feels as if they’re juuuuust getting into REM sleep, and all the actors in your dreams have their costumes on and the curtain goes up and then someone in the theater pulls a fire alarm. In fact, one out of five people in Hennepin County said they had sleep problems in half the days in a month. Well, half the nights. Dakota County: 21 percent had trouble. Sherburne County: 35 percent of the good folk are bloodshot and cranky. If you think that’s bad, compare it to Jasper, Texas, where 78 percent of the people toss and turn so much they wear through the sheets in a week.
The best places to sleep are also in Texas — places like Deaf Smith County, where 0 percent reported any problems. Makes sense, when you think about it.
Here’s the thing that should make any self-respecting Minnesotan grit his teeth and mutter oaths: Wisconsin is one of the soundest-sleeping states in the nation. What can we do about this — and beat them in the standings?
Well, if sleep is recess, then we need nocturnal recess strategy consultants.
Oh, and you were wondering if I’d pile on the Edina recess consultants, weren’t you? Happy to oblige. I’m not going to do the usual boasts about recess in my days, when we had sword fights with burned out fluorescent tubes and played kickball with a severed goat head and HECK ME TURN OUT WELL. It’s the language of the consultants, as expressed in an op-ed the other day. The president of the consulting company said: “Playworks is the leading nonprofit in our community leveraging the power of play to transform children’s social and emotional health.”
I have no idea what this means, but apparently people shovel money at you when you talk like that, so let me announce: I am available as a Sleep Strategy Consultation Consultant. Our goals are clear and our methods are proven. We will:
• Help you leverage maximized systemic opportunities to pursue excellence in slumber and unconsciousness procedures
• Encourage a climate that promotes pillow-drooling
• Identify and isolate awakeness-enabling mechanisms that prevent healthy community participation, like that running toilet in the bathroom; classes include topics like “Jiggling the damned handle for the fourth time” and “Focusing on something other than the meaningless gurgle of water down the pipes as a metaphor for mortality.”
• Partnering with partners and other stakeholders who can’t sleep because my god you snore like a boar gargling pumpkin guts
• Fully engaged, hands-on solutions that explore a range of strategies, from chloroform to, well, no, pretty much just chloroform
I charge $275 an hour. But here’s some free advice: However much sleep you get, your day will start better if you don’t have an alarm that sounds like someone’s taking a cheese grater to a parakeet. Nap if you can. See a doctor if it’s bad. Just imagine you are in a wonderful place where life is good and people drift off to long solid expanses of sleep without a care in their minds.
Like Wisconsin. Where people don’t care that they’re not at the top of every study about how perfect their lives are and how their cities are the Best Place in the Country for Meeting a Stranger Who Can Explain Tax-Increment Financing On the Spot in the Form of a Limerick, or something. It’s like they don’t care about those surveys. What’s wrong with them?
I’ll be up all night figuring that one out.