I read with great interest this week an article in The Commercial Appeal about Americans not getting enough sleep and some of the reasons for this. See, I have suffered from sleep deprivation since the age of 3 because of, well, many reasons. When you sleep with a pet squirrel named Mister, as I did during my youth, it sometimes was difficult to get a lot of shut-eye, especially when pecans were involved in the wee hours of the morning. But the article pointed out some good measures to take in order to get the right amount of sleep. However, some of them pose some challenges. 1) Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, including the weekends. I would do that, but I can't get the people who stop by my house in the middle of the night on the weekends to stop by at the same time. You know who you are. Get on a routine! As for weekdays, I do usually go to bed and wake up at the same time: 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m., and 6 a.m. For some reason, though, this doesn't help. 2) Create a cool, dark, and quiet sleep environment. Right. I happen to live directly in the landing path of every airplane that flies in and out of Memphis. And I guess falling asleep each night with the light on and the television blaring doesn't really help either. It does make for some strange dreams. Last night I dreamed that Pink came to my house with a new CD and her body painted with glitter and not covered by much else. Then a plane hit the top of a building downtown and someone turned The Pyramid into a big tattoo parlor. 3) Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine: Hmm, I don't think going through withdrawal would bode well for getting a lot of sleep. Out of the question. 4) Sleep only in the bedroom: But there's no blaring television in the bedroom and my cat sleeps in the middle of the bed and won't budge. 5) Sleep until there is sunlight: I don't allow sunlight into my house; it takes away from the cavelike atmosphere. 6) Don't lie in bed awake: What? If you can't lie in bed awake while trying to go to sleep, what are you supposed to do? This makes no sense. And who can't lie in bed awake with all there is to worry about. Whether or not Martha Stewart is uncomfortable with that device around her ankle. Whether or not school board member Sara Lewis is going to lunge at someone during a meeting. Whether or not Miss Wheelchair is going to lose her crown because she can stand up from time to time. Whether or not national morning-news anchors are ever going to stop reporting stories about groups of babies being hacked to death by a madman with a butcher knife while the parents are forced to watch and then interview the parents and ask them, "How did that make you feel?," and if the parents are ever going to just look at the anchor and say, "Wow! It was really, really great! I loved watching my babies get butchered to death! Thanks for asking such a pertinent question!" I could go on and on, but I'll spare you, and suffice it to say, I need some sleep! In the meantime, here's a quick look at some of what's going on around town this week. Tonight, the New Moon Theatre Company's Hamletmachine, Despoiled Shore Medeamaterial Landscape with Argonauts is at TheatreWorks. Tonight's "In the Mix II" concert at The Dixon Gallery and Gardens features 2004 Grammy Showcase winner Will Graves & Soul and the current art exhibit by Robert Sturman. Today kicks off the Memphis International Film Festival 6. Today also kicks off the Black Writers Conference and Southern Film Festival at Marriott Hotel, Peabody Place Entertainment Center, and Muvico 22 Theaters and features lectures by authors, a youth symposium, and a festival of black-themed films. The annual Africa in April celebration gets underway today at Robert E. Church Park. Memphian Tammy Parker signs copies of What's Left, a book of artwork by Alzheimer's patients, tonight at Davis-Kidd. Joyce Cobb is the featured artist at tonight's Sunset Atop the Madison party at the Madison Hotel. Just a few blocks away, there's a Peabody Rooftop Party with Dr. Zarr's Amazing Funk Monster. The Jumpin Chi-Chi's are at the Blue Monkey Midtown tonight. And David Brookings is at Neil's.