Life & Love

Dear E. Jean: When I’m at work, all I want to do is go home and sleep. After work, when I go out with friends for dinner, I’m so tired I almost dip my head into my plate. But the moment I’m home and can go to sleep, all I want to do is listen to music, play on the computer, write, create, stay up to 3 a.m. and do anything but sleep! I’m clearly exhausted, so why do I stay up and kill myself like this? —New York at Night

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My beloved lunatic: Who says you’re supposed to sleep at night? Back in the glory days before GPS and cell phones, I accidentally got lost for several entertaining weeks in the Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea and discovered that the women in one village slept at night while the men slept in the day; in another village (with a completely different language and culture), everyone cuddled together in the same hut come sundown; in a third, they napped off and on, and so forth.

There’s no correct time to sleep. You stay up, Miss New York, because you’re most vivid at night. Hence, I won’t be giving you any bull hockey about putting yourself on a “day schedule.” It won’t work. I’m a night person and have tried it 400 times. If you’re awake, my philosophy is: Rock it out.

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1. The Half-Way: Tired during the day? Take a 20-minute nap at work. When it’s break time, turn off your phone, put your head down on your desk, and sleep. (If you actually possess an office and not a cubicle, close the door and stretch out under your desk. If you really want to be stealthy, during your lunch hour, walk outside to a bench, sit, and zonk.) Current research shows napping will make you more alert. (My trick: Eat cherries or drink 100-percent organic tart cherry juice a half hour before Mr. Nappy, and bang! You’ll go out like a light—and wake up looking younger than Dakota Fanning.)

2. The Full Monty: Tell your boss you’ve created a way to produce higher-quality work for her company and perhaps add to her bottom line. This should get her attention. Then suggest the parameters of a 30-day experiment in which you start work at noon and leave at 8 p.m. If she agrees, give it a shot. You’ll be rising later, so you’ll be getting more sleep, and when you get more sleep, your mood will be sunnier, your memory sprightlier, and your wit sharper. Voilá! You’ll do brilliant work for your company, and your nights will be livelier than the Rock of Love bus.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at

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