NPR logo BPPdian Rhythm: Sleep Struggles in Morning Radio


BPPdian Rhythm: Sleep Struggles in Morning Radio

This morning we talked to Dr. Ana Krieger about sleepwalking. It was an interesting conversation, especially for BPPers, who spend an enormous amount of time thinking and plotting about when to sleep and how to get more of it. No one who has ever worked an a.m. shift for more than a week will find this surprising.

Our day starts before 5 a.m. Getting the fabled eight hours a night is attainable. But the real challenge is getting a decent night's sleep AND having a normal life, as in going out to dinner, seeing your friends' new band play, generally having face-to-face contact with people you like. It is not mathematically impossible, but it's pretty tough.

The math? Assume it takes you 90 minutes to get ready and get to work. (This sub-assumes you aren't too vain and don't live too far. More primp time and longer commutes make it even worse.) That means to get in by 4:30, you need to be up at 3 a.m. To get eight hours, you need to be asleep at 7 p.m. Not a lot of time for fun with friends, unless your entire social circle consists of teachers, pastry chefs, the unemployed or others with consistently free afternoons. But, there is a way out. . .

I'm currently using what I call the Martin Method, named for its creator, or at least for the person who pitched it to me, the BPP's own Rachel Martin. In short: work, go home, take a good nap, wake up, hang with the ones you love, sleep again, wake up, repeat.

Rachel is far smarter than the median bear. Her way works — when you're lucky enough to get out of here at a decent hour that is, which is not a given in the news business. I didn't ask Dr. Krieger what she thinks (forgetfulness is a hallmark of poor sleep habits, I think), but it's good for me so far.

Take last Friday. I wanted to go to a party that night; I got to work Friday morning at 4:45. These two things can't coexist in the absence of powerful stimulants (No, I didn't. Honest.) I left work around 2:15 that afternoon. I set an alarm and fell asleep 2.3 seconds after I lay down. Three hours later, I was awake again. Four hours after that, the party was on and I managed to outlast normally rising people. Yeah!

OK, it doesn't always work this well. Sometimes I wake up on my couch, wondering when I fell asleep and how I managed to stay that way while wearing all my clothes and with my head leaning against a metal radiator pipe. But I have yet to find a better path than the Martin Method. The comments section is open day and night to sleep tips from early a.m. veterans. Unfortunately, there is no known solution to the challenge of finding a Friday morning cab that isn't rancid with Thursday night partier leavings (or as readers of pretentious culinary writing might say, bile-infused). Eww.