Oct 28, 2007

lose sleep, lose your mind

I'd say my experience as a teacher and coach confirms this.
Feeling cranky after a bad night's sleep? Now there could be an explanation. Brain activity associated with psychiatric illness has been observed in healthy people who missed a single night's sleep. As well as shedding light on why sleep deprivation makes us feel so bad, the study could change our thinking about mental illness.
By 8:00 Friday morning, after a week of sleep deprivation, students are at their most lethargic. By 5:00 on a Saturday evening, after a short night and a 6:30 bus ride, they're at their most hyper--just before the crash, a phenomenon I call "retrorockets."

But it's not just about adolescents. When I'm sitting on roughly five or six hours of sleep per night, little things change. I try to put the toothpaste cap on the toothbrush, or the oatmeal in the refrigerator. I forget where I placed something, or appointments I've set. I can also feel my emotions amping up--not just in the face of, say, distressing news, but even in my dreams.

Some of this week's themes, brought to you by chronic undersleep:
I'm trying to sneak across the border into Mexico, where a gigantic Y-shaped electrified tower-bridge-fence-thing stands in the way. I discover a subway-esque tunnel underneath--but here, parts of the floor are electrified, leading to one tense trip.

I'm sitting in the front passenger seat of my car. Out of the darkness, rabid raccoons begin assaulting the vehicle. I fight them off by slamming the door on their heads.

In yet another, I'm dealing with a troublesome student. He's pestering his buddy, and just as I'm heading over to quell the disturbance, he punches his buddy in the face. I physically have to drag him to the office, where we meet with the administrators. Since the Dave Matthews Band is coming to CHS for a concert, and the kid's a huge DMB fan, they decide he can go if he promises not to do this again. My anger is immense.

In the middle of a different teaching day, word comes out that the United States is under nuclear attack and has retaliated in kind.

I'm riding around on a boat in the middle of a flooded city, with all my possessions aboard. A fellow teacher, driving, goofs around and ends up capsizing the boat. Most of my tacky ties are seemingly lost. Later, when the water has receded, I find some of them under a bed, damp and somewhat discolored.
Real life is better, as my first batch of debaters, half novices, took home several trophies at the Gig Harbor intro tournament, and now I get to see wife and family this afternoon before heading back to another crazy week.

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