As a member of a downtrodden community, I’m just asking for respect

As a member of a historically persecuted, cruelly marginalised, and tragically downtrodden community, I’d like to take this opportunity to rise up and demand a bit of respect for my people … we, the Tummy Sleepers, who sleep on our tums.

For millennia we have been the least valued of the three major sleep-faiths.

For millennia we have been the least valued of the three major sleep-faiths, cowering in the shadows of the smug, superior Side Sleepers with their correctly-aligned spines, and the brash, boorish Back Sleepers with their dry windburned snore-lips. For millennia we have been mocked and insulted, bed-partners laughing at us and saying “Awwwww, do you like to sleep on your widdle tum-tum? How do you even breathe? Through your skin like a frog? Haw haw!” And we are forced to laugh along, holding our hurt inside, thinking to ourselves, “Actually … how do we breathe? I’m not exactly sure”.

We cower in the shadows of the smug, superior Side Sleepers and the brash, boorish Back Sleepers.

Why all this Tummy Sleeping contempt? We did not choose to be this way, we were born into it – our parents let us sleep on our tummies when we were babies even though every paediatrician told them it was unwise and potentially fatal, but they looked down at us in our cots, shrugged, and thought, “Ehh… they’ll be fine”. So we grew up as dedicated Tummy Sleepers, spending every night sprawled on our bellies like a chalk outline of a film-noir murder victim. Our limbs splayed awkwardly like an Egyptian hieroglyph going for a walk. Our heads twisted painfully sideways like we just watched a bus go past and we decided to hold that whiplash-position for the next eight hours.

At just 16-percent of the sleep-population, Tummy Sleepers get 100-percent of the sleep-humiliation. Health professionals have never approved of us: they say Tummy Sleeping is bad for our posture and blood-flow and skeletal growth – and sure, all that may be true, but at least our genitals are protected from nighttime genital-slashers, that’s got to count for something in the health biz.

The media show us no love, never representing us in movies and TV shows. If there’s a sleeping-scene, the characters are always lying on their backs or on their sides – and if they’re lying on their tummies, it’s because someone’s lying on top of them or someone’s lying underneath them, either way, nobody’s getting any sleep.

The media show us no love, never representing us in movies and TV shows.Credit:Tanya Lake

The pillow industry has never supported us: you can’t buy a low, flat Tummy Sleeper pillow anywhere, nobody stocks them – we can only buy massive overstuffed pillows that make our heads twist even more painfully, like we just saw a bus go past, and then a plane. Tummy Sleepers end up having to make their own pillows – usually just an empty pillow-case laid flat on the bed. Folded in half if we prefer a bit of height and softness.

A Tummy Sleeping life is a tough one – so tough that I’m ashamed to say, I recently considered sleep-converting. For a few nights I tried Back Sleeping, but apparently I made weird unpleasant mouth-popping noises and my Side Sleeping wife said she’d rather sleep with a Tummy Sleeper than a Mouth Popper (but only just). Another time I dabbled with Side Sleeping, but my bony knees hurt when they rested on top of each other – I had to put my Tummy Sleeper pillow between them, which didn’t help, it was just a pillow case.

But no more of this self-denial. Tummy Sleeping is my identity. It’s who I am. I am proud to be a fully-grown man who sleeps on his tum, one hand tucked into his waist, the other hand perched under his chin, like I’m performing the actions for I’m A Little Teapot. Just a little respect. That’s all I ask.

Danny Katz is a Melbourne humorist.

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