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Deep vs light sleepers: The struggles are real




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We have all envied someone at some point.

It may be a neighbour who seems to be doing better than you — bigger house, bigger car, bigger job, or the attractive colleague who seems to get all the appreciative glances, or even a sibling who never does any wrong in your parents’ eyes.

In my case, I envy deep sleepers, those aliens that can somehow manage to sleep anywhere, anytime. Those that could sleep through a hurricane, a typhoon and an earthquake.

I look at them and feel the urge to stick my tongue out at them or make the mscheww sound that those Nigerian women make in their dramatic movies.

These deep sleepers are the ones that make bragging comments such as, “I cannot wait to go on leave; aki I’ll be waking up at 12pm …”

The day I will somehow manage to sleep past 7 o’clock, I will award myself a Nobel Peace Prize and invite you all to the after party.


You see, I am a light sleeper. I sit up, wide-awake at the slightest noise, at the slightest rustling.

I can, for instance, tell you which neighbour arrived home at 3pm because I will hear the car and the gate banging, and the doors opening and shutting.

With such accurate hearing, I have, for some time now, been contemplating asking my neighbours to give me the watchman’s job seeing as I am privy to just about everything that happens at night as they enjoy their deep sleep.

(Mscheww!) The side-hustle would especially come in handy in the face of this depressed economy, which has been ensuring there’s so much month left at the end of the money.

But I was talking about the deep sleepers. Sleep comes easily for them too; they are the annoying kind that will nod off and start snoring in the middle of a conversation, leaving you talking to yourself.

They are the kind that nod off immediately their head touches the pillow — how is this even possible?


If your other half falls in this category, then he’s the sort that annoyingly sleeps through a newborn’s hour-long high-pitched crying, snoring contentedly as you try, unsuccessfully, to rock the cranky tot to sleep.

This is the kind that, wonder of wonders, somehow manages to sleep until 6pm following a night out, and still be left with enough sleep to collect at 8pm until the following day.

Being a poor sleeper has many disadvantages as I have come to realise. For instance, I end up doing all the work on weekends and during holidays when everyone else sleeps in because I woke up at the crack of dawn.

Unfortunately, I am also the sort that is unable to just sit and do nothing — I look around me and see things that need to be done.

I cannot count the number of times that I have been urged by those who know me to “relax”.

Recently, someone who knows me well told me that he fears for my sanity when I retire.

Perplexed, I asked why, only for him to point out that retirement comes with lots of free time, so I had better have several side hustles going on by the time I retire or use the remaining years I have to train myself to relax, to “sit back and enjoy being in the moment.”

What does that even mean? Am I sailing this boat alone or are we many? If you can relate, please inbox me, I think we need to form a support group — we’ll need one when retirement comes knocking.

The writer is the Editor, ‘Society’ and Magazines, ‘Daily Nation’. [email protected]

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