For a reason hidden from me by state or circumstance, I woke up in the early hours of this morning; not to full wakefulness, but enough for both rational thought and remembrance of the same. Most of the thoughts were mundane or personal, but the one that stood out was an uncertainty over whether I wanted to fall asleep again, or only needed the benefit of sleeping more.
I have lost sleep enough to know not sleeping has a negative impact on my quality of life the next day; and indeed – despite falling asleep again – I do feel slightly less sharp this morning. But, does accepting I need sleep mean I want to sleep?
Young children are famous for not wanting to go to sleep, and there are certainly other things I could do with more hours of consciousness per day. If science discovered a method of removing or reducing my need for sleep, for instance the ‘Russian Sleep’ of Eighties cyberpunk that packed a full-night’s sleep into two hours, would I use it?
My immediate uncertainty was the risk of short- or long-term consequences; however, that is a fear it would not meet the need, not an indication I did not want to avoid sleep. Drifting into the assumption the need for sleep would be utterly eradicated, I struggled to find a desire to sleep that was not the desire to avoid consequences.
Indeed, when sleeping was I even capable of wanting? Would eight hours of sleep be different from eight seconds without the need to underlie the choice?
However, I do find the feeling of relaxation, both in thought and body, while partially asleep pleasant. So I probably do want the liminal zone between sleep and wakefulness. Even stripping out the proportion that might be considered a psychological need for relaxation, I do want to spend time in that in-between state. So, it seemed my need was for the sleep itself, but my want was for the areas around it; but that didn’t feel right.
It is only reconstructing my drifting musings with the benefit of – passing – wakefulness, that I have a potential answer to that: even allowing for technology that somehow excised periods of sleep without any impact on the liminal states, going to bed for am hour to experience half-an-hour of drifting to sleep, a trivial amount of unconsciousness, and half-an-hour of drifting awake feels absurd. My enjoyment of those moments of drifting rests in part on the justification my need for sleep brings.
strong>Would you give up sleep if you could?