Sleeping in My Clothes: Holding Tight to Impetuous Youth

I woke up this morning in my hotel room wearing a bra and beautiful purple flowered Rachel Roy dress, one that always makes me feel beautiful and yields compliments. It’s the dress I’ve worn recently to an important business meeting and am gearing up to wear at a talk at a library. It’s made of polyester (in China, of course), but feels elegant and classy. It is not the kind of dress one should sleep in, but the kind that should be treated with the utmost care so that it lasts as long as possible. It’s a dress I’d be sad to have disappear from my wardrobe, and yet…I still didn’t take the time to remove it from my body and hang it up, or at the very least, drape it from a chair.

But alas, that is part of my vice: sleeping in my clothes, alongside sleeping in my glasses (or having them fall haphazardly onto the floor), sleeping with the lights on, not brushing my teeth or using moisturizer before bed, and generally treating sleep like an annoying chore rather than a vital part of staying healthy. The fancy (for me) dress isn’t alone; as with so much of my clothing, many, if not most nights find me passing out in utter disarray, whatever I wore that day tangled around me, surely getting ruined by my restlessness. It doesn’t matter if my outfit is a beloved favorite, tight or loose, delicate or not. It’s the principle; I don’t want to have to take those precious seconds to unzip or step out of my dress or skirt. In those grouchy, late night, worn down minutes when I am making the decision.

“You slept with the lights on again,” my boyfriend will often tell me, surely grateful we have separate rooms. So? is my immediate mental response, but what I usually say is more along the lines of, “I’m sorry, it won’t happen again” — even though we both know it will.

I am not too much of a rebel in my daily life. I take at least eight vitamins, and am always tempted to buy more (it can’t hurt, right?). I eat breakfast every day, walk on the sidewalk, regularly call my parents and grandparents. I don’t drink or do drugs, and while I do indulge in sweets and salty snacks, the food that makes me happiest to see on a menu is kale. Plus I want to be a mom, and that idea has made me want to be even more responsible — most of the time, anyway.

Yet when I think of how my life has changed since the days when I’d stay out until four a.m., swing home and conk out for a few hours, then head off to work, even though I don’t envy that lifestyle or wish to recreate it. I live in suburbia now, and follow many routines by choice: I drink out of the same Minolta coffee mug every day, even though I have much cooler mugs (one has brass knuckles for a handle), walk the same routes in my small town, sit in the same spot to work. Neither my personal nor professional life is boring, exactly, but compared to the drama I seemed to crave and create at will in my 20s, it is. A part of me wants to pretend I’m still that young and irresponsible, even as I have conversations with friends about what turning 40 means and how viable my eggs are.

When it comes to how I sleep, it’s my little refuge from responsibility. In addition to how I sleep, when I sleep is another little act of rebellion. I worked 9 to 5 jobs for most of my life after dropping out of law school, so ever since I became a full-time freelancer in fall 2011, I’ve loved the idea of making my own hours, being able to stay up as late as I want. Even when my body is aching for sleep, I’ll tell myself “just a few more pages” of whatever cozy mystery I’m devouring. I simply don’t want to admit it’s time to go to sleep, like a regular adult.

It’s not that I don’t want to do them — my idealized version of myself is the one where I floss twice, eat way more than the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, run five miles and write several thousand words daily. I wish I was that seemingly perfect person, but at night, when I’m tired, I actually want to be her bratty little sister. I want to not care about convention or what anyone else thinks I should do. I want to be utterly lazy and slothful. I want to sleep like there’s no tomorrow, and that mindset extends to the period of time before I actually admit defeat and shut my eyes.

Yet as I pack that Rachel Roy dress, I’m fully aware of the irony. As with many vices, the only one I’m hurting is myself. I know that, and yet the allure of pretending sleep is an evil plot to get me to stop doing whatever it is I want to be doing at 11, midnight, one a.m., persists. On the other hand, I do have the most comfortable pair of sweatpants that are divine to sleep in, so much so that I’m thinking of ordering several more pairs to stave off the inevitable day mine disintegrate from overuse. Maybe I can find a way to make the sweatpants more of a regular practice. As for the rest — the lights, the teeth, the glasses — they can wait. I need some kind of vice to cling to, at least for a few more years.

(Photo: me and the sysop/Flickr)

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  1. Editor’s Note: Peccadilloes, Proclivities and Persuasions… | Tue Night

    […] Rachel Kramer Bussel sleeps with her clothes on. […]

  2. VideoPortal

    But, doctors warn, there are real health risks to wearing extra-tight clothing for prolonged periods. Instead of stuffing your body into suffocating clothes, some experts advise, it may be better to stick with more proven forms of body-shaping behavior. Plenty of people are taking the clothing way, however; research firms estimate that shapewear is a $680-million annual market.


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