Sleep­less in good com­pany

The Covington News - - Opinion - Bar­bara Mor­gan Colum­nist

It’s a good thing I’m writ­ing this col­umn on dead­line af­ter a rare good night’s sleep. You would have found me in a groggy state and bad mood oth­er­wise.

Re­search shows that too many of us get far less than the pre­scribed amount of sleep — that’s seven to eight hours — in or­der to be healthy.

It con­trib­utes to all sorts of health is­sues, they’ve found, and, in my opin­ion, it prob­a­bly ac­counts for the an­gry, ir­ri­ta­ble pop­u­lace we have be­come.

The Mayo Clinic says that one-third of adults have ex­pe­ri­enced in­som­nia at some point, and that 10-15 per­cent of us deals with it long-term.

I think those fig­ures un­der­state the prob­lem, if anec­do­tal re­search means any­thing.

Would that by edict ev­ery­body could be or­dered to bed for an ad­e­quate amount of sleep, but go­ing to bed for too many of us doesn’t hold prom­ise for sleep.

In­som­nia is what it’s called: “the chronic in­abil­ity to fall asleep or stay asleep for an ad­e­quate amount of time.”

Do you know any­one who sleeps well reg­u­larly? Well, I know of only one, my 92-year-old mother who’s never missed a full night’s sleep in her life. She sleeps long and peace­fully. I didn’t get those genes.

Sleep­less­ness is a reg­u­lar sub­ject of con­ver­sa­tion among my friends, all women at mid-life.

But not even my hus­band es­capes the tor­ture of in­som­nia. Many times, 2 a.m. finds him read­ing

“Dreams are sup­pos­edly one way the spirit works out so­lu­tions and sit­u­a­tions in your life, but if you’re not sleep­ing,

you’re not dream­ing.”

or watch­ing tele­vi­sion in the den or work­ing at his com­puter. Even that doesn’t mean he gets back to sleep.

A friend who never — not ever — sleeps straight through the night — she calls it “pa­thetic” — is known as a speed reader for the num­ber of books she con­sumes in a month’s time. Some time ev­ery night, she’s up read­ing in the den or by night light in the bed­room. Need a good book sug­ges­tion? She’s got them in droves.

An­other friend tells her story: “I don’t know a sin­gle per­son who reg­u­larly gets a good night’s sleep.

“Why? Hor­mones, noise, wor­ries, in­abil­ity to shut the brain off, ru­mi­nat­ing over the small­est — why are those av­o­ca­dos black on the in­side? — to the biggest — how would I im­prove health care?

“I find that when I do fi­nally fall asleep, I’ll wake up a few hours later and pick up think­ing about what­ever it was I was think­ing of be­fore. That makes it near im­pos­si­ble to go back to sleep.

“When I awake in the mid­dle of the night, I gen­er­ally just stay in bed and hope to fall asleep again. The ques­tion arises when it is 4 a.m. I then have to de­cide whether to get up and start the day or spend hours try­ing to go back to sleep and lose the day.”

I won­der if June Cleaver had trou­ble sleep­ing.

“One thing I know is that if I hap­pen to get a good night’s sleep one night, I can be sure I won’t get an- other the next night.

“Lack of sleep may also be due to the ab­sence of com­plete dark­ness or per­haps the elec­tric en­ergy put out by our world of high technology.

“What­ever it is, it can’t be cured by a glass of warm milk any­more.”

Oh, I’ve tried all those “nat­u­ral” reme­dies, be­lieve me: Warm milk with nut­meg. A le­mon-fla­vored mag­ne­sium pow­der mixed in warm wa­ter taken be­fore bed­time. A hot bath. The herb va­le­rian. Tryp­to­phan. Mela­tonin. Aro­mather­apy with English laven­der. Cut­ting out caf­feine. Vi­su­al­iz­ing a peace­ful scene hop­ing to in­duce rest­ful­ness.

New re­search sug­gests that cherry juice con­sumed twice a day might help.

Avoid­ing sweets, I’ve also read, is rec­om­mended to pre­vent a rise in blood sugar lev­els in the night that might lead to wake­ful­ness.

And then there are pre­scrip­tion sleep med­i­ca­tions, but be­cause they are not rec­om­mended as a long-term so­lu­tion, they aren’t re­ally an an­swer to chronic in­som­nia. What’s a girl to do? I, too, wres­tle with whether to get up in the night to fin­ish un­com­pleted tasks or read the book club book be­fore the meet­ing Mon­day.

Most times, I elect to stay in bed, be­liev­ing it’s best at least to give the phys­i­cal body some rest, even if the mind is bar­rel­ing along at warp speed.

If I can man­age to still the “mon­key talk” — mind­less, triv­ial ru­mi­na­tions – it turns out that wake­ful­ness in the dark of night can be the best time for prob­lem-solv­ing and prayer, when there’s no phone or e-mail or door­bell or dead­line to dis­tract.

Dreams are sup­pos­edly one way the spirit works out so­lu­tions and sit­u­a­tions in your life, but if you’re not sleep­ing, you’re not dream­ing.

Michael Jack­son, as we all now know, was a chronic in­som­niac whose con­stant search for sleep through chem­i­cal in­duce­ment ul­ti­mately led to his un­timely death.

Teen stars Mi­ley Cyrus and Justin Bieber claim to be suf­fer­ers, as well, and long be­fore those two, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Cary Grant were known in­som­ni­acs.

Maybe sleep­less­ness in­duced Mar­i­lyn to over­dose.

Judy Gar­land, in the mak­ing of “The Wizard of Oz,” was fed sleep­ing pills in or­der to get sleep, then other pills to wake up, lead­ing to her life­long depen­dency on drugs and al­co­hol.

His­tory tells us that some of the world’s best known high achievers suf­fered with sleep de­pri­va­tion.

Napoleon op­er­ated on only three hours of sleep per night.

The sleep-de­prived in­cluded Sir Isaac Newton, Thomas Edi­son, Ben­jamin Franklin, Win­ston Churchill, and pres­i­dents Abra­ham Lin­coln and Teddy Roo­sevelt.

We the Sleep­less do travel in im­pres­sive cir­cles, but it’s cold com­fort at 2 a.m.

Bar­bara Mor­gan is a Cov­ing­ton res­i­dent with a back­ground in news­pa­per jour­nal­ism, state govern­ment and pol­i­tics.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.