Sleep Stage 1: Reflection and Discomfort. This is a light sleep from which you are easily woken. In this stage, muscles slow, the brain produces Alpha and Theta waves, and regret is heightened. There is sand on your sheets and your mattress seems to be stuffed with raw potatoes. You should not have eaten that burrito mojado twenty minutes before bedtime. Your left foot itches. You have to blow your nose. Your body temperature starts to drop and your heart rate slows. Heartburn and spicy burps are typical. You aren’t sure whether you left the car windows open. Has an opossum ever sneaked in through a dog door and mauled a baby? It is imperative that you Google that. There is water in your ear.
Sleep Stage 2: REM (rapid eye movement). Eyes move rapidly from side to side. Brain activity increases. You dream that you are moving to a new house with an underground pub in a prestigious neighborhood. You jerk awake at 3:00 a.m. with your blankets twisted around your feet, cutting off your circulation. A used Kleenex is stuck to your cheek. There is no new house with a basement pub. There never will be.
Sleep Stage 3: Deep Self-Loathing. You have burrito sweats. You wonder whether you can hold out till morning before having to get up to use the bathroom. Your brain can recall minute details of long-forgotten events. Remember that time in the second grade when you scowled at Stacy Curtis who wanted nothing more than to sit next to you at lunchtime and be your friend? Of course you do. You can still see tears welling up in the corner of her eye and threatening to spill down her delicately freckled cheek. Why would she even want to be your friend, anyway? You’re fundamentally unlikeable. You reflect on the unacceptable size of your ass. Your coat closet is a disgrace, with all the piles of mismatched gloves shoved onto the top shelf. You should have married your high school sweetheart.
Sleep Stage 4: Dreams of a Better Life. Change begins today! Too bad it’s too early to get up now. Energy surges through you. In an hour or so, you’ll get up and run a few miles before work. It will be invigorating. It will reduce stress. You’ll make a peanut butter and banana smoothie with almond milk. You’ll use natural peanut butter, throw some flax seed in there and it will be a delicious power breakfast in less than five minutes. You’ll feel so much better than you did yesterday, when you began the day with fun-sized Nestle’s Crunch bars stuffed into a jar of marshmallow creme. You’ll even have time to organize the coat closet.
The alarm goes off. You will get up now; you should get up now. You will start the day strong. You will open your eyes any minute now. You push the snooze button only as a precaution that you certainly will not require.
Sleep Stage 5: The Slumber of Angels. This stage begins the moment the snooze button is hit. The brain produces mostly delta waves. You are wrapped in layers of warm, flaky pastry, slowly toasting to a golden brown. You are a puppy in a pile of other puppies, just a cozy puppy pile of velvety fur and pink bellies, sighing in contentment. Your bespoke bedding is crafted of silk charmeuse, eiderdown, and the inner wool of a musk ox. You and your bedding are one, sheltered in the hands of a benevolent god who does not judge. There are no wrong-sized asses here; there is only love.
Post-Sleep Stage 1: Rude Awakening. The noise is deafening. Holy crap, what is happening? Is this an air raid? It is your alarm going off after the nine-minute snooze. You drag yourself bodily from the cradle of infinite goodness. You are Shakespeare’s Macduff, “from his mother’s womb/ untimely ripped.” Existence is cold, unyielding torment. You locate the rest of the mini Nestle’s Crunch bars.
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Chris Eno McMahon is a comedy writer, Yooper, and erstwhile Homemaker of the Year. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Points in Case, Slackjaw, and more other humor publications than she can count, because she’s terrible at math.