Interview with a Vampire

By Alexandria Harris

I promise I will not suck your blood. Even if I knew where you were at this time. Though we’ve already established I’m not a vegetarian, I’m also not a cannibal. Vampirism comes in many forms, and the aspect I’m referring to today is the sleep side of it.

My sleep deprivation issues probably mean I’m waking up on the wrong side of my sleep cycle.

Post-grad life means I have a lot more time than I did in college, but for some reason my sleep has not been balancing out. Waking up to get my Jillian on, eating a nice balanced breakfast, work, and doing some writing all sounds like a nice dream, but for some reason it hasn’t been happening.

I’ve never been a morning person, but it’s a little extreme.

Even when I’ve gone to sleep at a “natural time” which is what my parents urge me to pay attention to when they aren’t calling me Queen of the Night, I feel like I’ve partied too hard in the USA the night before. Or I happen to wake up with a quarter of the day gone.

The sleep cycle is a fascinating way to understand the science of sleep. To my chagrin, one doesn’t just go to sleep, have adventurous dreams, then wake up, go about our business, and do it over again.

Oh, it is much more complicated than that.

Sleep is divided into two stages: Non-REM (NREM) sleep consists of four stages of sleep, each deeper than the last. This usually happens right after falling asleep. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is when you do most active dreaming. Your eyes creepily move back and forth during this stage, hence the name Rapid Eye Movement sleep. It happens in the early morning and a person probably looks possessed during the latter form of sleep.

Deep sleep repairs your body whereas REM sleep repairs your mind and makes one more refreshed for the day. Apparently if either is compromised, your sleep pattern makes up for the one you aren’t giving enough SLC (sleepy loving care) to.

Similar to the way you can be in monetary debt, one can also experience sleep debt. The concept of losing sleep and feeling the punishment later is not new to me, but I wasn’t expecting all those all-nighters to come back and bite me after such a long time.

There are some of us who do not have the time to get the average/recommended 7.5 hours of sleep for adults. Or to take power or cat naps during the day to keep the sleep debt at bay. Power-napping never seems to work for me, but apparently there’s a science to that as well and I haven’t been doing it right. Setting a wake-up time in a multiple of 90 minutes works wonders for the average sleep issue.

Thankfully there is technology to help us out with the gargantuan mission of getting enough sleep. Yes, I know currently people usually solve problems with technology first and look for practical solutions later, but bear with me.

The iPhone and Android have a few numerous Sleep Cycle applications to help borderline insomniacs get right back on track. I’ve decided to try the one for Android called Sleep Cycles and the iPhone app is called Sleep Cycle.

Of course the easiest way to solve this would be to get a time machine, time travel back to when I was five (when you couldn’t pay me to take a nap) and surgically remove that part of my brain. Then I would undergo a brain procedure to insert that part of my brain into my present day body.

Ironically, as I’m wishfully thinking of this, I should probably be going to bed to sleep off some of that debt.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and former reporter on WSUM 91.7. When she isn’t watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, she tweets regularly as @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Seven Pounds

By Alexandria Harris

If you thought I was talking about the Will Smith movie, I’m sorry to disappoint but I do think you should see it if you haven’t. This Will probably resonate more with the ladies (pun intended and sorry gents).

In a week full of disappointments, sadness, and confusion for our nation, I found some positive energy.

I lost my first five pounds after doing a structured workout. I know it may not seem like much, but I already feel great. I was an athlete in high school but during college I fell victim to all-nighters, little time to cook (say hello Ramen and take out), exhaustion, and caffeine.  Multiply this by four years and the freshman fifteen starts shrinking into the horizon like remnants of the sun.

When I was younger, I never worried that my grandmother was a cannibal, but she did always want to fatten me up like I was Gretel. Grandma loved feeding people. She never let anyone leave her house hungry and was always talking about how I was too skinny and needed more meat on my bones.

Later, after her death and during college, came the comments.

Mind you, even after four years, I by no means looked overweight. But when you come from an extended family like mine (loving and well meaning as they are) you need some thick skin.

Aunt: “I see you’ve gained some more meat on those thighs.”

Aunt: “Hello Ms. Chunky…”

Dad: “So when are you going to the gym?”

Aunt: “You need some new clothes for that new food baby of yours.”

Dad: “Don’t you live right by a gym?”

Uncle: “Don’t worry. Men like healthy women with meat on their bones.”

Dad: “I guess you haven’t gone to the gym yet.”

They meant well. They really did. But after a while, some comments start slipping through the cracks in the thick skin. I resolved after graduating college that I was going to maintain mind, body, and emotional health to help keep my life more in balance and I knew exactly the person I was going to call on to help me kick my butt into gear.

Jillian.  And boy did she ever!

Accomplishing weight loss to feel better reminded me of the days when I practiced for at least three hours a day in high school. There were also constant reminders of success stories along the way—Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks to name a couple. It felt as good as achieving one of my page goals for writing, or doing a random act of kindness.

The title refers to the goal I’ve set for myself in the next couple of weeks. It is so easy to get inundated with depressing things in the media, but accomplishing little wins in our personal life can center us and help us keep it all in perspective. It can also bring us closer together with our community–the first person I told after achieving my goal, was my dad.

So though it’s late in the week, I wish you well with any personal goals or achievements you are accomplishing or plan to accomplish this week and beyond.

Alexandria Harris is a writer and recent college graduate. When she isn’t writing, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on repeat, or working in her father’s company, she tweets regularly on her account @_ALHarris. Alexandria lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin