Fear of Missing Out

This past weekend, a few friends and I were at a bar. I honestly do not remember what was the topic of conversation, but she responded to a question by saying, “FOMO.” The conversation immediately stopped and there was pin drop silence. Excuse me, I thought. We all looked at her. She did not bat an eyelash at the sudden hush, and plainly stated, “FOMO: Fear of Missing Out.”

As a little kid, I hated to sleep. I lived with my grandparents for a few years and I always remember being up early with them, cleaning or preparing for the day. By 3pm, my Caribbean grandparents would say, “The day done.” Hence, we always tried to accomplish our daily goals before the impending mid afternoon deadline. Because we went to bed early, I fondly remember waking up in the middle of the night to watch wrestling, then known as WWF, with my Papa. My grandmother would furiously ask him, “Thomo, why do you have that boy up so late, watching that foolishness,” as we nestled on the oversized couch in front of the television. Undeterred, my Papa would calmly answer, “Because that’s what he wants to do.” I would skillfully avert my Granny’s fuming eyes and return my gaze to the comforting blue glow of the television set. With only a few hours of sleep, I would be up the next morning, running around, being an active kid.


As a teenager, my hatred for sleep continued. Truthfully, my poor sleeping habits can be traced to being an enthusiastic early riser. This energy to greet the new day was definitely acquired from living with my grandparents. Everyone in my immediate family loves to sleep. My mother is a sleeper. She loves to have pajama days where she relaxes in her pjs all day, embracing the whimsical temptation to cuddle with her pillow and return to dream land. My brothers, forget about it. They have no recollection of Saturday morning cartoons because they are opening their eyes at the time when all the best cartoons are done. I blame the rise of cable television and the ever present channels that play cartoons non-stop. They did not have to worry about waking up early to satisfy their cartoon fix, like I did, a child of the 80s. They can have their four hour cartoon binge in the middle of the day or late at night or really whenever they want to have it.

I digress.

Late in my high school career, I did not go to sleep until two or three in the morning. Senior year, that late bedtime was the direct result of my first real puppy love crush on this beautiful multiethnic girl from Brooklyn. One time, while talking into the wee hours, my mother had gotten up to use the bathroom. As her heavy foot slid past my door, she heard my voice, and peeked in to see what I was doing. I was crunched up in a laundry basket, talking on my private line, a cordless phone, engaged in a trivial conversation, filled to the brim with nothingness. She sleepily stated, “You know you have to get up for school in a few hours,” and closed my door. At 6 o’clock, I was up. The first one in the bathroom. The first one ready. All done with energy to spare.

My teenage friends were perplexed by my constant, bright disposition in the morning. One day, on the school bus, a close friend leaned on my shoulder and thoughtlessly asked, “Why don’t you sleep?” I prepared to list the things that I did late at night, which mostly consisted of talking on the phone to my lady friend from Brooklyn. But I responded, “I fear that I’m going to miss out on something while I sleep.”


During my freshman in college, I worked in a bakery. I had to be at work from 5am till 9am and then I attended class until roughly 3pm. Next, I played basketball and then ate dinner. In the evening, I participated in play practice until 8pm (once again check out the picture at the end of the post). Then…well it was freshman year, so I was not in bed until the early morning hours. During the summer between my sophomore and junior years, I read The Da Vinci Code, and in my true nerd fashion, looked up all things related to Da Vinci.
This was the first year or so of Wikipedia, so I got lost in a WIki vortex, a place where time is suspended while you click from link to link to link, finding out more information than you originally intended.

Click. Da Vinci only slept for three hours to maximize the hours in the day, which he desperately sought to do in order to complete his many different passions.
Click. Our body sleeps and rejuvenates during rapid eye movement, known as a REM cycle.
Click. REM cycles take roughly three hours to complete.
Click. The optimal complete sleep cycle contains three REM cycles, a total of nine hours.
Click. The reason why many people feel drowsy with eight hours of sleep is because they interrupt their last REM cycle and the body does not respond well to limited or interrupted REM cycles.

Solution. I decided to only sleep in three hour intervals a la Da Vinci. As an adult with a professional career, I still sleep like this.





One thought on “Fear of Missing Out

  1. Pingback: I Can’t Sleep…What’s New | Between The World and Me

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