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Emails to my Therapist

Sleeping Too Much? Berating Myself Too Much?


Dear Nicholas,  A sharp-witted 95-year-old I know recently said with enthusiasm that what she really loves to do is eat and sleep. Her wonderfully thoughtful care-taking son Franc said, “I’m the same way.” I seem to lean a bit in that direction myself.

I’m writing this on Saturday, when first I slept late, then I took two naps and finally I got dressed about 3 p.m.

Getting a lot of sleep is a good thing, right?

Getting enough sleep makes us look and feel younger, I’m told. And I’m in favor of both.


sleeping baby



And sometimes we dream up ideas.




And regain a more peaceful state of mind…

too much sleep sleeping sleepy



In spite of the restless legs and the pesky molar-cracking nocturnal habit of tooth grinding and jaw clenching…

tooth grinding jaw clenching sleep


But Losing All That Time!

I think I may negate some of the benefits of sleep by, characteristically, berating myself about it.

If I get a jot more than seven hours–or a whole lot of jots–then I wake up thinking I’ve let myself be robbed of hours of valuable life and that highly productive people like Steve Martin–who writes movies and good novels and New Yorker stories, plus starring in movies, doing stand-up comedy, playing the banjo professionally, and having a baby at age 67–people like him probably don’t sleep away their Saturday morning. (I do have Steve Martin issues. More on that some other day.)

How much valuable life do I have left, after all? I’ve come to learn that life on this plane may not last forever.

The truth is that I’ve wasted more time berating myself than I have over-sleeping.

Tonight at dinner I said to Bob that I would like to never berate myself again. He was very much in favor of that. In the course of our conversation, I remembered the technique I’ve successfully used to stop the berating.

My Mental Trick for Stopping Self-Berating

I imagine myself being accused of the crime by someone else. When I do that (about a misdemeanor), I immediately feel free of guilt and clear that the accuser is a troubled and wrong-headed individual. It’s that easy. But then I forget to do it, until I’ve wasted time marinating in a shallow bath of guilt.

This is a good technique except for major misdeeds, real or imagined.

Back to Napping

Okay, I started off wondering about my napping habit. Bob suggested I praise myself for being a good napper, having a workable sleep system. It’s true that I nap soundly. I fell asleep in a doctor’s waiting room and the doctor herself came out to wake me up. I was suddenly inspired to take a nap in my car in the CVS parking lot and the manager knocked on the window to see if I was dead. A sun-warmed car is one of the great places for nodding off.  I’ve also had a couple of champion five-hour naps on the “fainting couch” in my office, and more than once fallen asleep there with my MacBook in my lap.

Ironically, I remember now that I wrote my previous post after 3 a.m. because I couldn’t get to sleep. That’s pretty unusual, possibly related to one nap too many.

Anyway, enough of the examined life for now. I’m done yammering for the moment. This has been very helpful.



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  • December 3, 2017 at 3:21 am Reply

    with enough restorative sleep, balance will surely be re-established.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm Reply

      You’re suggesting I’m unbalanced, Bob?

  • Kenju
    December 3, 2017 at 4:56 am Reply

    Another set of things we have in common: naps, berating ourselves and Steve Martin!!

    • Peggy Payne
      December 3, 2017 at 1:05 pm Reply

      Steve obviously needs to join us in our enthusiasm for napping, Kenju!

  • Stefani
    December 4, 2017 at 8:15 pm Reply

    I found out that having an adolescent boxer dog in the house will keep me from sleeping any time except at night. He also keeps me from dissolving into the sofa.
    I do love to sleep though. When I sleep I’m not eating or spending money. Win/Win

    • Peggy Payne
      December 4, 2017 at 9:28 pm Reply

      We have a large teenage dog too, Stefani. Hadn’t thought of him as a handy alarm, but my husband keeps him pretty distracted. And, yes, definitely a win/win.

  • Randee Bieler
    December 5, 2017 at 6:47 am Reply

    Ha, I wish I could nap! It’s such a kind little gift to give oneself. I have nap envy, Peggy. You are blessed.

    • Peggy Payne
      December 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm Reply

      And I’ve taken up morning coffee in order to get a little less of this gift. It’s working. Wishing you all the naps you want….

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