Sleep Faster! I'm tired. Dog-tired. My dogs are tired too. At least they get to sleep lying down.
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Horses sleep standing up. But do they sleep well? It's been a long couple of months. We've gotten into a rhythm, and it just won't quit. The days are so full of meetings and screaming and transmittal of drafts for review that there's barely any time to work. So much has to happen before normal people would even think about being up. If you call this being up.

It's 6:47 A.M., and I'm already late. I'm late because I slept in. The alarm went off at six. I was dreaming that I was in my grandfather's apartment building. It was dark there ... just one tiny bulb hanging. I somehow knew that a very, very bad person was coming up the stairwell from a lower floor. I was frantically knocking on doors to warn people. Then a single door opened from the stairwell, and I was really quite terrified, and then I woke up to the beeping.

Good Christ, I thought.

Next thing I knew, it was nearly 6:45. If I was going to make my early breakfast, I would have to hurry. This combination of hurry and tired is murder.

Things you can do when you're tired: Sleep more. Drink coffee. Smoke a cigar. Or take a roaring hot shower in a rush, slam into some constrictive clothing, and take a one-hour trip to a brightly lit place where lethal demands are made on you the moment you hit the ground.

Only the last option is available to me.

I stand in the shower. There is plenty of water. It's all hot. We got a new burner a couple of years ago. It's fabulous. I lean my entire forearm against the tiles, which are made of very fine Italian marble and took us months to shop for. I lean my head against my arm. Horses sleep standing up. But I am not a horse.

The meetings go late. The meetings start early. The cell phone is always on. Last week I got a beeper. It came in the interoffice mail. I didn't really ask for one, but they sent it anyhow. I put it in a drawer. One day, you know, I'm going to put it on. Then I can add a little ring in the soft cartilage of my nose, one they can run the chain through easily when they want to lead me around.

I've shaved and washed my hair with my eyes closed. For the hair-combing and dressing portion of the process, however, I'm going to have to open my eyes. I open them and see tile. Then I close them, just for a minute. I'm scared. It's got to be after seven already. I step out of the shower. Lord God. It's cold out here. I can feel my heart kick-start into action like a chain saw.

I look at myself in the mirror. Wow, buddy. You look how I feel. Things you can do when you're tired: Have a slow glass of grapefruit juice while reading the sports section. Eat a stack of flapjacks. Play with the dog. Cancel your early breakfast.

Only the last option is available to me.

I call Dworkin at home. If he meant to be at our assigned point, he would be well up by now. His 10-year-old daughter answers the phone. "Dad?" she says. I hear her walking down the hallway. Then Dworkin comes on the line. "Mf," he says.

"I'm not gonna make it," I say.

"Grswz," he says.

Things you can do when you're as tired as Dworkin and me: Roll over in the hammock. Read a big, lazy page-turner. Fly to Borneo. Get to work the easiest way possible.

Only the last option is available to me. So I drive. Driving is easier for tired people. You can listen to the radio; think a little. When you hit the city, you can take a couple of quick catnaps while you wait for the traffic to move in the long blocks between the river and midtown. Best of all? You sit down all the way.

In the next 12 hours, I have a day. That's about all I'm prepared to say about it. I interview several people for the Hazelton job. Two seconds after each leaves the office, he or she is lost to me, gone in the mists of cerebral freezer burn. Byworth is on the line. Byworth again! Byworth exhausts me. The situation with the Y2K nitwit squad exhausts me. Dealing with Mort and Jack and Ken and Len and Bob and Bert and Fritz and Big Paulie exhausts me.

Things to do when you're tired at work: Go home early. Take a nap on the floor of your office. Step away with a few of the guys to grab a couple of cold ones. Watch TV. Yell at somebody for no reason.

Only the last option is available to me.

At four, there is a large meeting in the large meeting room. About 30 people are there. The chairs are set up classroom-style. Several presentations are on tap. About 20 minutes into the show, after all the coffee that can be drunk has been, and all that's left on the side credenza are a couple of sad grapes, a few people begin to rise thoughtfully and meander to the back of the room, pacing, taking a few jottings on little pads, otherwise enjoying things while standing. More join them. Before long fully half the room is in the back. What are they all doing there? I'll tell you. They are trying to stay awake, just like me. In the middle of the second row, I see DeFranco, his head on his chest, drooling slightly. He is not awake.

Everybody's tired. Oh, maybe there are a couple of Gen X-, Y-, or Z-sters high on adrenaline someplace who aren't. But they probably are too. My kids are tired. They have a lot of homework and must save their online chatting for the hours when their parents have crashed to earth. They drag themselves around all day, getting ready to stay up late again at night. My friends are all tired. My dogs are tired. But they were always tired. That's why it's so nice to be a dog. When you're a dog, you can sleep anytime you want. Lying down too.

Things to do at the end of the day when you're very, very tired: Fall asleep at 8:30 like a 5-year-old. Sleep until about ten. Pop eyes wide open. Hang around until 1 A.M., too wired to sleep. Finally lie down. Close eyes. Count backward from 100 for about an hour. Sleep fitfully. Dream too much. Wake up when electrodes are set off inside skull.

Or...go downstairs and watch a tape. Honk around in the wee hours, thinking, playing with the computer, maybe reading a little. Have a big breakfast as dawn is breaking. Drive out to a deserted spot by the ocean and listen to the sea gulls argue. Go to sleep as others are going off to work. Wake to the smell of coffee at noon or so. Decide what to do next.

Only the first option is available to me.

For now.

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name.