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October 30, 2013

Nighty Night


You know the old adage . . . early to bed, early to rise.

I wish I was one of those people, I really do. Lots of my friends get up at the crack of dawn. They jog. They go on bike rides. They go fishing. "It's the prettiest time of the day," they say. I wouldn't know.

I still have a lot of friends who stay up late, too. They go to bars and clubs. They like the late night talk shows. But they get up before me, too. "I only need four hours of sleep a day," they say.

Not me. I like to go to bed early and get up late. This prompted Karen to wonder aloud if there was something wrong with me.

I don't want to say Karen is a hypochondriac (but she is).

"I have that new flesh eating disease," she'll say.

"What new flesh eating disease?"

"Necrotizing Fasciltis."

"I thought that's when you have sex with a dead body?"

No, Karen claimed it was when bacteria gets inside an open wound and then it starts eating your healthy tissue and then it consumes your organs.

"And then it eats the leftover chicken in the refrigerator?" I asked. Then she got mad because I wasn't upset she was rotting to death.

"OK," I said, "Show me your open wound." She put her index finger up. "They call that a paper cut," I told her.

Once she was convinced she had Bell's Palsy, apparently because she said one side of her face looked like it was "droopy."

"Sounds like one of the seven dwarfs," I wisecracked, which earned me a night on the couch.

She had already read up on it, and decided it was either the result of a brain tumor or a stroke. Turns out, the old mirror in her bathroom was warped.

Then there was the time she became convinced she had Epstein-Barré syndrome. I told her she was mistaken, though it was likely she had Guillain–Barré syndrome – that sent her digging into the medical journals.

The funny thing about all these diseases is that they are named after real people, which brings me to the old joke about Lou Gehrig by Denis Leary: Gehrig died from Lou Gehrig's Disease – how did he NOT see that coming?

In my house I live in fear of what I call the Jim Henson Syndrome. Every time I cough I hear about it.

"You have to go to the doctor," Karen will say.

"Why?"

"Because Jim Henson had a cough and he didn't go to the doctor and then he died." My guess is he contracted some weird disease from Big Bird or maybe he got chronic fatigue syndrome because he was always playing with his puppet.

Anyhow, to get back to my sleeping, Karen worries because it must be symptomatic of a really bad disease. A lot of people have suggested I sleep too much. That's because in addition to going to bed early and getting up late, I also like a nice nap in the afternoon.

I tell people, "In my country it is traditional to take a siesta." The problem is I'm from America, and also a siesta by definition is a "short" nap and mine last four or five hours.

I looked up my symptoms on WebMD. One main cause of fatigue was depression. When I told Karen, she immediately assumed it was her fault. "You're depressed because you don't love me anymore, is that it?

"Actually," I replied, "I'm depressed because I had to get out of bed this morning."

ZOCDoc suggested I may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I ruled that out – I believe I may have Constructive Sleep Apnea, though.

Netdoctor.com suggested chronic fatigue might occur if I drink too much alcohol or coffee. I ruled that out, because I drink too much alcohol and drink too much coffee.

Finally I consulted the great seer and mystic Siri, who lives in my iPhone.

"Why am I always tired? I asked her.

"Because you don't get enough sleep," she replied.

And there it was. Here I was worried about spending too much time in bed when the reality is I don't spend enough.

This prompted me to do more research – I found this article in the Huffington Post, about a study led by John Axelsson of Sweden's Karolinska Institute: "Our findings show that sleep-deprived people appear less healthy, less attractive and more tired compared with when they are well rested," wrote the researchers. "This suggests that humans are sensitive to sleep-related facial cues." The conclusion: "A good night's sleep enhances beauty" - thus the definition of "beauty sleep."

So I'm going to sleep even more from now on, even if Karen insists on calling it a "coma."

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