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I slept in until 9:50 this morning. Yesterday I slept in until 10:00. I didn’t do this because I’m lazy. I did this because I need at least nine and a half hours of sleep to feel good (sometimes I need more). I did this because I spent eleven hours in transit–in cars, in the airport, in airplanes–in uncomfortable places on Friday and my body needed some time to recover.

Somewhere somewhen waking up early and sleeping in late had values attached to them. Not just “Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise” and “The early bird gets the worm,” but the early bird is industrious, ambitious, likely cheerful and will get ahead while the late riser is lazy and unambitious. I’ve been teased for years for years about needing lots of sleep, but now I can fight back and say, hey, I have fibromyalgia, you jerk, I have to get lots of sleep,

But I shouldn’t have to say I have fibro for it to be alright for me to get the sleep I need. The people who don’t get enough sleep are the unhealthy ones. Sleep deprivation can lead to memory problems, depression, a weakening of your immune system, and increased perception of pain (two of those symptoms sound familiar to me as a fibro sufferer). Fatigue can make you as impaired a driver as alcohol can. I know it’s hard for a modern American to get enough sleep, especially if they have a long commute to work or young children, but it can be so unhealthy to not get what your body needs. The culture as a whole needs to be more understanding about the body’s need for sleep.

And just because someone somewhen decided 8 o’clock is the perfect time to start the day’s business doesn’t mean it’s the best time for every body to be up and at ’em. I’m a night owl in addition to having fibro. I can get as much done in the evening as I can in the morning, and I’ll probably get even more done because my body feels better in the evening than it does in the morning. The problem is, of course, that many jobs (especially teaching, my job) make you start at eight in the morning

And don’t get me started about the frowns you get for being over five and under eighty and needing to take naps.

I’m not lazy or unambitious because I get more sleep than mainstream American culture tells me I should. Mainstream American culture tells me I should be sleep deprived in order to get everything into my day, but I couldn’t get  anything into my day if I didn’t get my sleep.

So others can feel superior by waking up early after only five hours of sleep. I’ll be over here, sleeping for my nine and a half or ten hours, trying to feel like a whole person with my fibro body.

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