THE BLOG
03/20/2014 04:28 pm ET Updated May 20, 2014

Sleep

Thought I wouldn't get around to that, did you? Did you really think I would ignore a third of our time? Perhaps you thought I would have nothing to contribute. Wrong. Eighty-seven years, hundreds of conversations, a thousand articles.

And my brother, Alan. I shouldn't be flip because Alan, three years older than me and my best friend, died at age 47 from an overdose of sleeping pills. No one will ever know but I believe that death was not his intention. I believe his intention was simply -- not so simply -- to get to sleep.

He was plagued by insomnia. He was obsessed with sleep -- or rather the lack of it. He claimed he almost never slept. He quit his job because he felt he was too tired to work. Or to exercise. Or to do anything but sit in his apartment drinking wine. And at night cram in the pills to get a blissful rest.

Which never seemed to come. In and out of 10 different hospitals as a manic depressive, he complained bitterly that attendants kept looking in at him to see if he was asleep which kept him up. Hospital personnel said he slept. Alan said he didn't. Who to believe?

What I learned from his tragedy is not to be concerned with how much sleep I get. I do pretty well. About six and a half hours a night plus a half hour to hour nap in the afternoon. And nodding off at movies, plays, lectures, concerts -- anything that demands my attention. I know that's stupid but I can't help it. An old man nodding off.

You thought there would be more? Guides to falling asleep, falling back asleep after a trip to the bathroom? A favored potion of milk, honey and ambien? Nada. All I want to say to you is lighten up. Let sleep catch you almost unawares. If you try too hard for it, it might elude you.

Like happiness.