It’s two o’clock on a Saturday morning. I am sitting at my computer at this ungodly hour because one of our dogs has a new habit of barking at the moon around midnight, and the other dog, who recently injured a leg, started noisily gnawing at the bandage around two. I was able to go back to sleep after the first dog-interruption, but after the second, my brain kicked into gear. After an hour of lying in bed thinking about bills that need to be paid and work I should have finished yesterday and my to do list for the weekend and why I love the movie The Help so much (Viola Davis—she’s amazing), I decided to get up and get something done…like beat my time for finishing a Sudoku puzzle.
In college, I was a habitual all-nighter. Every paper I wrote was completed while I watched the sun rise, then I’d throw on a baseball cap and dash across campus to get it into the TA’s mailbox before the morning deadline, and I still looked and felt as fresh as a daisy. But I’ve lost the skill over the years. I now drag myself to bed around ten, get up at five to fit in gym time, get to my desk by nine at the latest, work long days, and repeat. I nap on the weekends. Sometimes I nap during my lunch breaks.
I don’t know how parents do the sleep-deprivation routine on an ongoing basis, the first six months spent meeting the constant needs of a newborn, then the next eighteen years getting up for nightmares, water requests, barf sessions, and missed curfews. Maybe if I’d become a mom in my twenties I could have pulled it off. But now, I love my sleep time. I need my beauty rest. I want to get a full eight hours with a full dose of REM! I think of it now as a luxury that I get to enjoy because I am childfree, and I am grateful for it. Especially when I am denied the benefits on long nights like tonight.
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her fastest Sudoku-solving time is 3:16.