Saturday, January 30, 2010

Funniest Sleep Deprivation Stories From Readers

If you haven't noticed, our writers and contributors have come up with just about every possible story related to sleep, and for good reason. Over 90 million Americans suffer some sort of sleep deprivation or insomnia symptom every single night.

That is a sobering statistic, with huge implications in how our reaction time, clarity and focus is affected in everything we do -- from work productivity to driving. Last week I decided to lighten up the subject a little bit, and poke fun at ourselves and the hysterical things we do while bone tired. After all, walking zombies do some pretty funny stuff! Here is the link to last week's post.

I am amazed at the sheer volume of funny stories I received this week reflecting the idiotic things we do when sleep deprived. Here are some of the "best of the best" from a variety of good sports who confessed some of their funniest moments:

Putting both contacts in one eye ... almost mistaking nail glue for contact solution ... going to sleep and forgetting the dogs were outside in the cold ... putting the dust pan in the refrigerator -- and the milk on the floor near the broom ... looking for my glasses and wearing two pairs on my head ... finding the butter in the dish cabinet ... wearing a terrific suit and two different black pumps ... and finally -- going through the drive thru for coffee and ordering from the trash can.

Classic. It just goes on and on.

One reader shared this little gem:

I once spent five minutes searching desperately for my cell phone, complaining the whole time about it being missing, to my girlfriend, who I was talking to on my cell phone. This went on until she timidly asked "Are you using your cell phone right now?" It was such an out of body experience, I just hung up.

Another brave soul bared it all with this story:

Probably TMI, but my best story is falling asleep on the can in the middle of the night with my head resting against the facing wall. I was awakened by a house guest. How embarrassing.

And this one is my all time favorite:

Many years ago I had to do a presentation. When I got to the meeting and opened my brief case, I realized I had been carrying a backgammon board all morning.

I spent some time this week talking with renowned sleep expert; Dr. Richard Shane, who is a psychotherapist and has been working with sleep issues for decades. He has developed a simple way to help identify easy tips to "lean into sleep" once your head hits the pillow; and a great system for insomniacs to learn how to get to sleep reliably without medications. Turns out, he also has a great sense of humor.

Here are a couple of his favorite jokes around insomnia:

In the middle of the night, George was pacing back and forth in his room, unable to sleep. This woke his wife, who asked him why he couldn't sleep. He replied, "You know that thousand dollars I borrowed from Bob next store? Well it's due tomorrow, and I don't have it, and I'm anxious and can't sleep." His wife said, "Honey, I have the solution." She opened up the window and yelled to the house next store. "Bob, wake up." A light went on in the house next store and Bob stuck his head out of his window. She continued, "You know that thousand dollars my husband owes you? Well he doesn't have it!" Then she closed her window and turned to her husband. "There, now let him pace the floor and you go to sleep.

Here's another:

Sid Caeser was a very popular comedian in the 1950s and 60s. Someone told me that he once did a routine in which he had insomnia, was tossing and turning and disturbing his wife, Imogene Coca, so she told him he had to get help. The next scene is of the next night and he says, "Honey, I saw a sleep doctor today and I know just what to do." He gets in bed, closes his eyes and says, "Good night feet. Good night ankles," and moves his way up through his body. Finally he says, "Good night, brain." Long pause. "I SAID GOOD NIGHT, BRAIN!" So much for progressive muscle relaxation.

As many of us know, laughter is the best medicine in life. When we can laugh at ourselves, even when we're so tired we can't remember why we went into a room, it helps us to lighten up, and then potentially be able to shift gears out of that crabby mood or lethargic slump.

Dr. Shane has assembled a YouTube medley of some of the funniest television clips of insomnia from the classics of Lorel and Hardy and the Little Rascals. Check it out. While the clip is a full seven minutes, it's worth it. The last clip of the guy using a calculator to count sheep is worth the wait:

Science has already proven that laughter is helpful to heal us when we are sick. However, no studies have yet been conducted as to the potential benefits of comedy to help improve sleep. Here's a challenge as we hit the home stretch of our sleep challenge: for the next seven days, before going to bed at night, put on a show that really makes you laugh, or read a funny book instead of watching the horrors of Haiti on CNN, or some really bad reality show. Notice if it makes any difference during the night or the next day. Both Dr. Shane and I will be collecting stories of how it goes, and what you notice.

In the meantime, know that if you can't find your car keys, or your shoes, or your child - you are not alone! Join our little club here with any good stories you have in our zombie party! Feel free to share this on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and click on Become a Fan to receive weekly updates

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Humor of Sleep Deprivation

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... Oops! Is that my face in the keyboard? Being chronically sleep deprived is no laughing matter, and hence Cindi Leive from Glamor, and Arianna Huffington have partnered in a quest to "throw the covers" off of an issue that has been "swept under the rug" for far too long.

Both admitted to 'falling off the wagon' in the first ten days of a month long sleep challenge. Cindi captured a funny rundown of her mental ramble at 3 a.m., followed by locking herself out of the house after a morning run.

When we are sleep deprived, everything is amplified and dulled at the same time. Sounds are louder, emotions are hotter, tears are right under the surface; and yet our reflexes and recall skills are much slower- ever noticed that? When I am exhausted, I can't remember where I parked my car after a five minute run into the store, but the second my husband looks at me cross-eyed, I am a ball of fury and sobs.

I admit I have done some really stupid things while being sleep deprived. I have burned many a tea pot, forgotten the names of people I have known for years in the middle of a conversation, showed up for a meeting at the wrong place and the wrong time, and once even left behind one of my kids at the bottom of a ski slope, to go inside for lunch.

Most recently, after a night of four interruptions from everything from pre-teen nightmares to pee pee sheets, I went to the gym to try and wake up. I climbed onto the elliptical machine, plugged into CNN and started groovin' along. After about 15 minutes, I wondered why I was sweating like a pig. I looked down, and realized I had walked out the door, and was now working out, with my shearing slipper boots still on.

What are some of the absolute DUMBEST things you have done while being sleep deprived? Let's lighten up this subject and share some of our biggest giggles and yawns!

Maria Miranda, Facebook expert, and founder of Miranda Creative shared a few juicy examples of a savvy business owner on too little sleep. While she admits to locking herself out of her house, like Cindi, as well as leaving the keys in the car door - I loved her story of leaving the keys in the fridge while grabbing a drink, and having no idea where to find them.

"I was just joking about this subject, so it is on the top of my mind," said Miranda. "Twice I have done a 'Google' search on my Blackberry, and then held the phone to my 'ear' as if I would 'hear' the results!"

Another classic story came from a wiped out woman at work who was on the phone with a client, and automatically said, "I love you" at the end of a business call. A single mom in Florida admitted to pouring coffee into her daughter's sippy cup for preschool; and then drove off, gulping nasty apple juice from her 'to-go' mug.

Mika Brezinski, anchor of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" is a busy TV celebrity, mother of two, and is no stranger to functioning with little sleep. In her recent book, All Things At Once, she opens up about her very human life, and the balancing act of motherhood and career - including falling down the stairs with her newborn from sheer exhaustion. She confessed on Barnes & Noble Tagged, that the shirt she is wearing on the cover of the book, was the shirt she showed up in for the photo shoot- after falling asleep with her clothes on the night before.

One of my favorite sleep deprived stories describes a woman in her late 40's who had a surprise new baby and was back in the newborn haze. She was running through Old Navy for a few baby items, and got stuck in an endless line that would never move. As she stood there getting more and more infuriated, she finally woke up to realize she has been standing for twenty minutes -behind an Old Navy mannequin.

No wonder there is a Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts on every street corner these days. Finding the humor in our mutual calamity may make it easier to shut the world down whenever a moment allows- in the parking lot during lunch break, on the couch with the kids, or before Jay Leno finishes the "early-late" show. After all, wearing your pj's to work is only funny once.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breathless and Without Pants: A Decade in Review

January is always a crossroads month. Everyone seems ready to jump back into the routine, clear out clutter and get busy. Yet, it is also a great time to take a moment and examine the territory we have crossed, and look toward the future path ahead. It is a time of forgiving, forgetting, organizing, dreaming, planning and resolving.

The weight of a new decade makes this process even more poignant. Before jumping back into the daily grind, let's take a moment to pause and consider: where were you ten years ago? What did the world look like to you then, and what did you hope for? What did you imagine the world would look like in 2010?

Imagine you are holding the last decade like a Star Trek style crystal prism in your hand where you can twist, turn, and review images from 2000-2010. When the ball dropped exactly ten years ago at the dawning of the new millennium, everyone was in world wide panic about "Y2K" and world wide destruction. Remember that ultimate dénouement?

Ten years ago today, the Supreme Court was debating who would be president. Al Gore lost, bummed out for a year or so, made up a slide show - and now global warming is a household word. The world has been rocked by severe weather patterns world-wide, melted glaciers, extinct species of animals, and polluted waters. Who knows how we will deal with it in the next ten years.

A decade ago, September 11th had not yet happened, and flying in an airplane was still a pleasant experience. We were not at war. We did not know what swine flu was, and had no idea the entire financial market would crash, leaving millions broke, out of a job and without health care. Gas prices in 2000 averaged about $1.46/gallon.

In the year 2000, only 35% of us had email, and most of us had never heard of a laptop or had a cell phone. We had hobbies then. We actually talked on the land line, watched TV shows at the time they were aired, and listened to an entire CD for music entertainment.

When you get right down to it, the fundamental changes in how we interact with one another over the last decade are beyond astounding. Think of it:

•Today over 85% of American's use cell phones and 81% of use their phones for data use; texting, emails, photos or games. My kids rarely "talk" on their phones.

•A decade ago, the word "blog" did not exist. In fact, Brad Graham, the man who coined the word, "blogosphere" died this week at the age of 41. See NPR article here:
Now there are over 900,000 blogs posts written every day.

•Wikipedia launched in 2001- and is now the largest reference source world wide- written by anyone and everyone. Goodbye encyclopedias and dictionaries.

•A couple of brainiac PhD students invented Google, just over ten years ago, and today Larry Page is worth over 12 billion dollars at age 36.

•Social Networking dominates our culture, yet only came on the scene in the last half of the decade. Check out this time warp: YouTube launched in 2005, Facebook - a toddler of a new business, launched in 2007 and Twitter - veritable baby, hit the streets in November, 2008.

Today, over 200 million of us are using Facebook, with no end in sight.
"Every once in a while a platform comes along that allows people to build a completely new application -- sometimes even starts new industries," said Mark Zuckerberg at his national launch a mere THREE years ago.

Has this ride down memory lane left your head spinning? No wonder Arianna is on a campaign for more sleep! The past decade has been dark at times, intense, and flying along like the California wildfires. I don't know about you, but I need a break. Before we barrel ahead into the next ten years, let's step off the roller coaster for a while, gain some perspective, and reflect on the pure possibility of what is to come.

When Kings and Queens found themselves stressed out with the weight of the world on their shoulders, they would call in the Court Jester or the Fool. The sheer frivolity of their antics would counterbalance life's magnitude, and bring joyful laughter.

The world could use a few Court Jesters- and I found a one in the subterfuge group, Improv Everywhere. Their purpose is to "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places." Their New Year's mission is called, "No Pants Subway Ride 2010." Overwhelmed by the decade looming ahead? Feeling defeated by your New Year's resolutions already? Just take your pants off!

This Sunday in New York City, thousands of people are riding the subways - and calmly taking their pants off while going about their everyday business. That's right. Imagine sitting on the blue line, texting away in 2010 bliss, only to notice your neighbor shedding her jeans and waiting for her next stop in her panties - and they guy next to her in his boxers. Why you ask? Well, why not?

No matter how far our technologies push us, or what scary disaster is waiting around the corner, nothing can replace the tenacity of the human spirit, or our uncanny ways to come together.
Check it out:

Pants on, or pants off; here's to another ten years. Enjoy the ride!

SO, Huff Po readers, what amazed you in the past ten years? What funny ways do you counterbalance life's weights? Love to hear your comments below, and feel free to follow me on Facebook. Click on Become a Fan to receive weekly updates.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Christmas Carol for Tiger Woods

This weekend marks the arrival of the winter solstice - our longest night of the year, and clearly the infamous Tiger Woods is experiencing a major 'Dark Night of the Soul'.

As much as I am sick to death of hearing about this story - he is still a bright, well educated man who has unlimited potential to re-create his future. Charles Barkley said on CNN that Tiger needs to "talk to a famous person, who truly understands." I agree he needs role models for sure. But, who would they be?

I took my daughter to see the new Disney Christmas Carol movie yesterday. The animation was fantastic, and the archetype of Ebenezer Scrooge serves as a profound reminder of how many are trapped in a dark and hopeless place - dominated by money, power or greed. Scrooge had become a bitter man, and didn't know a way out. During the film, Tiger Woods popped into my head- what ghosts would come and visit him while he is in hiding; shaking in night shirt and cap?

Ghost of Christmas Past: Paul Newman.
Can you just see those baby blues still? All zipped up in his racing suit, imagine Newman floating in to Wood's yacht and gently whispering his famous quote, "What could be better than holding your hand out to those that are less fortunate than you are?" Newman maintained an enviable marriage to Joanne Woodward, kept his joy stick and testosterone funneled in racing cars, and through his giving nature - became one of the world's most important philanthropists.

The famous salad dressing began as a simple gift for friends at Christmas time, and that act of giving took on a life of its own. Today, the Newman's Own Foundation has given over $280 million to charities. In particular, the Hole in the Wall camps was the twinkle of Newman's eye, and he spent hours anonymously with the children.

Newman said, "Whenever I am in the dumps, I come up here, to camp, and it reaffirms everything that I think is really good and generous about this world. " The way to salvation is holding up all the Tiny Tim's who can reopen possibility.

Here is the ghost of Christmas Past himself:

Ghost of Christmas Present: David Letterman.
Get in front of the story baby! No one approves of sexual liaisons, but it does not have to dominate the news 24/7, unless there is mystery and intrigue in the mix. Take a tip from the man himself - this golf tournament was botched beyond belief, so get out of the sand trap and back on a new green - for everyone's sake. Letterman joked that Tiger should stop coming to him for advice, yet also offers a role model of how to get on with business, and the public will follow. Here's Letterman's ghost, with his buddy Tom Hanks, offering a few tips of humorous wisdom:

Ghost of Christmas Future: A young philanthropist; inspired by the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Let's face it; Tiger Woods earns a lot of money: $700 million per year from Nike endorsements alone. A lot of good can come from that money. Kids are out there waiting to be inspired, and the Ghost of Christmas present is a young man who was the winner of a contest sponsored by the Tiger Woods Foundation. At the end of this clip of an excited teenager opened up an iPod touch, and said, "because of a good thing I did, I was rewarded for it. But it would have been worth it even without a reward." Check it out:

There is room for so much more, and maybe Woods' retirement from golf can fuel even greater creative enthusiasm towards the various charitable endeavors already created in his name, like the Tiger Woods Learning Center in CA.

Even though the cold of winter is just beginning, after this weekend every day will gradually grow a little bit lighter. Isn't that comforting in so many ways? With that in mind, let's leave Tiger with his ghosts, and make it a point to turn away from stories that spark shame, humiliation and support a shameless celebration of infidelity. Let the ghosts of philanthropy, humor and possibility remind all of us what is important. You can make a difference by throwing open the shutters of what closes you off, being brave and helping to make a difference in someone's life.

"God bless us, everyone," Tiny Tim.

What say you, Huff Po readers? Any other ghosts who can offer sage advice in this modern day Christmas Carol? We always welcome comments and discussion, and have a happy holiday.