Until waking late today, I wasn’t in the habit of quoting dead French polemicists.


When Voltaire’s line: “Men argue; nature acts,” was leveled at me last night for reasons best left unexplained in English, I was compelled to conflate it with this morning’s newsmagazine headline: “WHY MILLIONS OF WOMEN CAN’T SLEEP.”


As reported, several thousand-thousand women lately are finding themselves naturally sleepless.  So say the folks at New York University’s Sleep Disorders Center, where one young, restless female test subject was ... well ... subjected to tests, attempting to root out the cause of her diurnal switcheroo.


Her name?  Let’s just call her “Meemie,” a name which fairly screams her insomniacal distress.


After spending a night in the “sleep lab,” (the best oxymoron since “eschew obfuscation”) Meemie was first thought to be suffering from hypopnea, which translates roughly as “unable to sleep and breathe at the same time.”


She’d have been better served to simply follow the example of a Congressional Ethics Committee, itself being a strong contender for next best oxymoron, and which consistently manages to be the least hypopneaic body extant.


During her night in the slumber chamber, Meemie awakened 245 times because of hypopnea.  She was informed of this result by an NYU pulmonologist who shall remain nameless, but not here:  Dr. Ana Krieger.


Far as I can figure, Dr. Krieger’s forte -- Pulmonology -- is the study of why we breathe-in an inhalation and breathe-out an exhalation.  I submit, mindful of Voltaire’s admonition, that while we argue about it, nature finds a way.


If it didn’t, we might be expirating in and inspirating out, defeating the purpose of your average diminishing rain forest.


I’ve never been there, but I’ll wager that the NYU sleep lab has no windows.  This means no fresh air for our hapless Meemie, and a night spent pulmonologizing the same recirculated oxygen used by NYU sleep lab technicians, who are not, as is widely and unnaturally unsuspected, air breathers.


Next, Meemie spent the night with “electrodes monitoring her brain waves, breathing and movements.”  Yes, nothing promotes REM sleep better than having one’s cranium wired and body film-chronicled in the half-lit, stale atmosphere of an alien boudoir.


REM, for the unschooled somnambulist, stands for “rapid eye movement,” or the “result of excited brain activity and the paralysis of major voluntary muscles.”  This is where our dreams live and/or Congress finally convenes.


Our poor Meemie’s monitors also concluded that she suffers from Periodic Limb Movement Disorder, a close relative of Restless Legs Syndrome.  There’s a movement underfoot to redesignate both of these disturbances, but without them, Meemie wouldn’t have a spasmodic leg to stand on, and couldn’t be “relieved that my condition had a name.”


The reason why, of course, so many women go bleary-eyed these days and nights will not be found in a Krieger diagnosis, or a university kip kiosk, or the parting shot of a dead French rabble-rouser.


Women can’t sleep because men can’t stay awake.


Arguably, it’s a natural act.