Let’s Talk Sleep

I don’t know when it started, at the Christmas Eve anticipation of Santa’s arrival way back when, or after giving birth to a lovely child who didn’t think much of sleep, accompanied by my trained alertness and vigilance to every sound in the house.  Oh well, it happened.

I get discouraged after I’m proud of myself for eking out five hours of sleep and then I read some flippant comment in some article about health, that five hours isn’t enough.  Oh, and they tell me that I’m more susceptible to this disease and that malady in the future if I don’t get my sleeping act together, and soon.

And then there’s the nonsense comment uttered by those who have no problem sleeping, to “go home and get some sleep.”  Like one can “get” sleep, like we “get” toilet tissue or a new toaster, at the store.

Because I like to sleep as much as the next guy or gal, if I could get some sleep at will, don’t you think I would do so?  “I think I’ll just run home and pick up some sleep after I pick up dinner at the takeout.”

Kudos to all ya all who sleep eight hours, really.  It truly must be nice to be congratulated for ticking off one of the requirements of healthy living, just by doing what comes naturally to you.  Just know, that it doesn’t happen at will for some of us.

Insomniacs encounter a fair amount of blow-back in the form of blame, for not sleeping enough.  Often, it’s assumed that we have “bad sleep habits” that self-sabotage our nocturnal rest schedule.  I can make myself exercise, and eat a disciplined diet, if I try hard and set my attitude right.  However, it’s not always possible, with sleep.

I’m no snowflake nor so woke that I can’t take a joke or some lighthearted ridicule for having insomnia.  However, I believe that all the experts out there could slow down a tad on quick judgements.  Sleep is more complicated than a convenient arm-chair stereotype can address.

Experts on some narrow subjects are famous for making blanket statements which wipe out the legitimate experience of vast numbers of people who don’t fit into their mold.  With the World Wide Web, otherwise known as the Internet, we are a world chock-full of experts on subjects as diverse as makeup, business, fashion, food, finance, health, sex, God, politics, cats, plants, décor, and whatnot.

It truly boggles the mind, how many contrary opinions appear about any subject you can pick out of a hat, if you consult the Internet.  For example, “how much is enough sleep?”  Depending upon the expert, it’s anywhere from five to nine hours with the traditional eight, being the favorite.

If I sleep five hours, it’s inconvenient but is it the end of the world?  Speaking of experts, Oprah said back in 2015 that it’s okay to sleep as much or as little as you sleep.  I took some comfort in that thought; after all, if Oprah says it, it’s as good as true, right?  But, sorry Oprah, sleep research contradicts your advice, concluding that five hours isn’t enough.  Ugh.

Then there’s the customary advice about going to sleep and staying asleep which focuses primarily on scheduling, reducing screen time, anti-stress and meditation techniques, and exercise during the day, natural or herbal tinctures; and common-sense environmental things like using soothing music, white or brown noise and light reduction, temperature control, pillow and mattress selection, and lavender, lavender, lavender.  Of course, there is the “sleeping pill,” if all else fails.

Oh, and don’t sleep during the day, granddad, and grandma.  But never fear if you do, as there are experts who swear by a rejuvenating short nap for folks of all ages, as a boon for productivity and brain health.

For those of us susceptible to the opinions of sleep experts who say we’re doomed to either a silly or serious malady down the road if we don’t get our prescribed hours of sleep, some familiar night time thoughts are: “if I go to sleep within the next fifteen minutes, I’ll get six hours of sleep before I have to get up.”

Or, “oh well, I may not sleep but I’m resting my body – as you lay prone in that dastardly bed, refusing to get up and do something because the experts said, “no screen time.”  But after you’ve given yourself a talking-to like, “I’m relaxed, I’m going to sleep, (there’s a yawn, yay I might be going to sleep), I love sleeping…” and your eyes pop open like a well-wound Jack-in-a-box, you get up and do something.

Seriously, if I’m sleepy I might go to bed and get either nine hours of sleep, or two; you never know which.  I can fall asleep during an entertaining television show or movie, quickly go to bed to catch the wave and not five minutes in bed, sit up wide awake.  At which time, I usually just get up and do stuff.  There’s always something to do.

Sweet dreams, if you can get ‘em.

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