Sleep. The New Sex.

“Too Tired for Sex?” …or, just too tired?

Fatigue is in. Almost everywhere you look, and anywhere you go, you will find people complaining that they are just TOO tired. Shooting for the weekend, trying to get through the day, didn’t sleep that well last night, so much to do. Too tired for words. Occasionally we might meet someone who says “not them!” Someone who claims to be completely and happily well-rested, and ready for life. So irritating.

“Sleep deprived.” That’s it! But perhaps this notion is largely pharmacologically driven. “Z-drugs”  are what they’d have us take to get more and better sleep, but of course they are not the panacea we’d wish them to be.

We’ve read the articles telling us that we’re  sleep deprived, and that this leads to automobile and industrial accidents, family and marital conflict, weight gain, increased cardiovascular disease, serious metabolic stresses, inflammation… you name it. Not good.

But, we are in good and dozy company. There are millions of us.

And (surprise surprise) this generalized fatigue and perpetual weariness apparently hurts our loving. “Are couples today just too tired?” asks Dr. Trina Read (The National Post, April 16/09) We are, for sure, very often too tired to be sexual. But our solutions should not really be the often touted “tired sex positions!” “Being tired” Dr. Read suggests, “usually covers up for other things that have gone wrong in the bedroom: lack of communication, buildup of resentment, boring sex … the list goes on and on.” She reminds us that some very tired couples have great sex lives, but suggests that the weary pace which we try to keep, divides us in more subtle, dangerous and costly ways.

There are many casualties to living our lives flat out and in exhausting schedules, and just as many reasons perhaps that we choose to live our lives this way. Driven by anxiety, fearful that we, or our children, might get left behind (how many miles did YOU drive to soccer this week?), stuck perhaps in patterns of people-pleasing that may have dogged us from our youth, and just plain living WAY beyond our means, and so to the treadmill we go. Day after day after day.

I recall an old New Yorker cartoon where the businessman stands at his desk, phone in hand, trying to schedule a meeting.

“No, Thursday’s out” he replies… “how about never — is never good for you?” 

We can relate, can’t we?  What a clever response.  Must use that.

In the early 1600’s, Blaise Pascal wrote that we go through our lives, “forever planning to be happy.” “We live in times,” he writes, “that do not belong to us; the future or the past, and fail to live in the only time (the present) that truly is ours to live.” “It’s inevitable” he suggests, “that we may never live, but only hope to live…”

400 years later, we may be caught in the same madness.

In Chaim Potok’s brilliant book “The Gift of Asher Lev,” the Rebbe makes this powerful observation about the cost of fatigue, and offers this terse and wise counsel. In the middle of his life, successful beyond imagination but weary to the point of death, Asher seeks out the advise of his old friend, and childhood mentor.

With his exhausted student crumpled before him, the Rebbe begins…

“Fatigue is from the Other Side, Asher. It sunders our partnership with the Master of the Universe and prevents us from participating in the daily act of creation. It is food for the Angel of Death, this melancholy, this hopelessness.”   (The Gift of Asher Lev, 1990)

Fatigue… sundering our partnership with life? With God? …preventing us from participating in the daily act of creation? From living? A hopelessness, a melancholy… a diagnosis of clinical depression perhaps, and more.

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What is your experience of fatigue? Is this an issue in your life?

What success have you had in addressing this?

Advice?  Thoughts?

And lastly, what does this have to do with your loving, and with the sexuality of your relationship?

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2 Responses to “Sleep. The New Sex.”

  1. SG says:

    This is a blog I hope to return to. So well-read and so insightful.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the fatigue plaguing us as a society.

    After four children, the youngest being three, fatigue is definitely a factor.

    One thing we’ve done throughout our married life is to go to bed at the same time as much as possible. And used “quickie” (low expectation sex) to keep us connected even when we’re tired…not always easy, but well worth it.

    It’s easy to let TV and computers keep us up too late…that is a struggle.

    Speaking of which, I must get to bed!

    Keep up the thoughtful posting!

  2. jane says:

    “Slow and steady wins the race.” As I age,I find myself holding tenaciously to the truth of this adage … It colours my approach to life in many ways … slowing down makes life more SIMPLE … and SWEET.
    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hoffman
    We have much in common … energy levels are not one of them. But different fatigue thresholds can be tackled. I’m finding that even if I sneak into bed long after he’s gone, he’s often easy to wake … having had an hour (or two!) to rest … and be revved!
    Dynamics in the wee hours can range from deliciously drowsy … to drastically dynamite … ya just never know. Wake him up … and see.