GCD Will Chambliss: My Brush with Competitive Sleeping Greatness
Advertising is a funny business.
Occasionally, we get to rub elbows with Hollywood’s elite. We might work with a DP who we watched walk offstage with an Oscar the week before. Or we’ll spend 10 days with a director who goes on to make that summer’s blockbuster. Or we’ll have a VO record with an A-list star.
My kids are inured to the whole thing, so much so that this is a common exchange in our house whenever we’re all watching TV together:
Me: “Oh, I worked with that person on that thing I did!”
My kids: “That’s great. We’d like to watch Black-ish in peace now.”
But when our client, Marpac, maker of white noise sleep machines, sent us to film the Competitive Sleeping League championship, for which they were the title sponsor, even my kids were psyched.
For my part, I approached meeting the finalists with a healthy dose of perspective. Famous people are just ordinary people who are exceptionally dedicated to their craft. Strip away all of the attention and the fame and the fortune, and they’re just like you and me, right?
Even so, meeting competitive sleepers Andy Wildman, Kimberly Brown, and Ulrich Fridriksson (and even baby Erika Macpherson), I’ll admit: I was star-struck.
There was a calm that radiated from each of them. A stillness. A quiet confidence. I wanted to be around them. I wanted some of It, whatever It was, to rub off on me.
To be fair, I didn’t spend much time with them when they were awake.
I did get to speak with Andy’s wife, Beth. Their lives have been turned upside down by Andy’s rapid ascension in the sport. But they’ve been taking the changes in stride.
I asked her if Andy feels comfortable as the face of the sport. Beth explained that “Andy’s biggest fear is sleeping through all this. And I told him, ‘well, sweetie, that’s exactly what you’re doing.’” Then she just kind of shrugged.
Ulrich came alone. A quiet man — or just groggy (it was difficult to tell). The championship didn’t work out as he had hoped. But he was gracious, signing sleep masks for the crew afterward.
And Kimberley. Well, I’m sure you’ve seen the highlights by now. Her Double Rollover was all that anyone has been talking about since. That sort of effortless creativity is what people love about the highest levels of competitive sleeping. We’ll be seeing that clip for years. I asked her about it, and she said she didn’t even know what she was doing. That she was unconscious.
Over 700,000 fans tuned in to Facebook Live to watch the four-hour championship. I don’t know how the tension in the Slumberdome translated to the livestream, but in the room it was really something.
Fans watching the event at home wondered if it was real. If there really was such a sport as competitive sleeping. Well, does it really matter? The inspiration I felt from watching these champions at the top of their games was very real.
One of the things the sport has going for it is that anyone can play. All you need is a Marpac white noise sleep machine and a bed (these sleep-letes were resting on regulation Marpac Yogabeds). And the more the sport catches on, we’ll all be better for it. Getting enough rest improves our memory, it reduces stress, it makes us more creative, it reduces accidents — the list goes on and on.
Could I ever see myself sleeping so soundly, knowing that hundreds of thousands of viewers were hanging on my every toss and turn?
Well, no. But for one day it was enough to know I had shared the same air with some not-so-ordinary people who can.
These stalwarts of sleep even slept through a video we made about the event.
This article originally appeared on Will’s LinkedIn page.