Friday, December 18, 2009

These woods are lovely, dark and deep

I don’t sleep enough. I’m told this. I know this. There will always be some dispute between what I’m told and what I know in terms of just how much I’m in arrears. When I do sleep, I sleep deeply, continuously and instantly, a talent that can be, and is, viewed just as easily as efficiency or desperation. Advocates of the two accounts don’t concede much ground to the other, but I notice we both tend to fade during the occasional mid-afternoon at similar rates.

I’ve read the articles. I’ve seen and read Fight Club. I know the science. I know that sleeping more will make me race faster at this point than training more will. I want to sleep. I don’t like to sleep. I feel like crap all day after I get what people deem enough sleep. Is it because I need less sleep? Or because I wait until I’m exhausted before I sleep that long?

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost. One of his best lines is from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a line I adore because I surely interpret it all wrong:

“… I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep.”

It’s the central paradox of my life, it seems. Or at least my nights. The three – promises kept, miles logged* and sleep enjoyed – are not mutually exclusive, not at all. But I have yet to reconcile them.

And that’s probably why I just now found myself following a friend’s link to a very interesting e-book called What Matters Now and reading a page by Arianna Huffington on the importance of sleep, at four o’clock in the morning, laughing out loud a little and hoping it didn’t wake Patty up in the middle of her longer hours of shallower sleep.
* The logo on Frazz's shirt in today's strip (the one about my promises to keep): Training Peaks, the program I use to log the miles I go.


La Professora said...

Unless your lack of a full 8 hours is causing you to be less productive, there's no need to stress about it. Seems that there's a genetic connection to how much sleep an individual needs. The key factor is that the more intense the sleep, the less of it you need. See for reassurance.

Noel said...

I'll have to check my clock, but I'm not sure it still has a 4:00 A.M. on it any more. I know I haven't seen it in quite a while.

Elaine said...

I have the same "affliction" of not sleeping much, though not because I don't like sleep, but just because there's not enough time in the day to squeeze it all in. I have a deep love of both sleep and that Robert Frost poem, and have been thoroughly enjoying your blog and your book (which I am way overdue in thanking you for, so THANK YOU! I should also note that there is a very favorable review forthcoming in a New England publication in January... details to follow... ;-)

Jacob said...

I just started reading your book today. I'm already halfway done and I'm sure that the second half is just as wonderful as the first. Bravo!

Not to be nitpicky, but I just happened upon a tiny, insignificant error in Trizophrenia (I suppose that is being nitpicky, isn’t it?). Before I go on, though, I’d like to explain that I’m not mentioning this out of arrogance but rather because I think you have a love of learning, as I suspect most of your Frazz and Trizophrenia readers also share. I know that I appreciate learning from your comic strip and your book, whether my new knowledge is literary, scientific, athletic, or just plain insightful. In your analogy of the effort of triathlon to work in physics (p. 77), your equation for work is:

W = F x d

But the equation for work is actually:

W = F • d

Work is the scalar, or dot, product of force and displacement (this is signified by the dot). The definition of the scalar product, using the work equation variables, is:

W = F d cos θ

Where theta is the angle between the direction of the force and the direction of the displacement. The vector, or cross, product (signified by the “x”) would be:

W = F d sin θ

So work is a scalar (a number/magnitude) rather than a vector (a magnitude with a direction). And because of the cosine part, there will only be work if the force has a component in the direction of the displacement, like you said in your book. That is, if you apply a force perpendicularly to the displacement, then you will do no work. But work does have a sign, e.g. if I lift a tri bike up, gravity is doing negative work on the bike and I am doing positive work on the bike. This distinction is trivial in regard to the point you were making (which, I might add, was a very good point), but I thought you might be interested.

P.S. Frost is one of my favorite poets. I love that line.

P.P.S. I like your method of writing with by incorporating a generous helping of footnotes.

La Professora said...

Well, if you still have a hard time sleeping, there's always the new Simon's Cat film:

(F d cos theta is a lot of work.)