This little post is not a product of science or the proceedings of a medical symposium.. Please do not embarrass me by taking it, along with your other internet jewels, to assist your physician with his CME.
While still in the single digits of youth, on school nights, my mother turned out my light and all but got out a bugle with which to play taps. When she said this day was finished, like it or not, I was supposed to be able to switch off my brain.. I would sequester a book and a flashlight and with the covers pulled over my head, I awaited the often tardy, if salubrious, arrival of the god of hibernation
I am now an octogenarian who has seldom slept through the night since I was first forewarned that I would be held accountable for duty performance which was less than my best.
Over the decades, I’ve tried etoh, eastern meditation, medications, white noise and a bpap breathing apparatus (after a night In a sleep lab). I’ve read everyone’s treatise on insomnia. The EEG data of the phases of sleep (REM, non-REM and circadian cycles) are interesting but that knowledge has not increased my unconscious hours. As an intern, I learned to go to bed fully clothed and take cat-naps almost anywhere.
Americans spent $32 billion on medications and sleep aids in 2012. Who knows how much alcohol is consumed at bedtime? It is a tempting Faustian bargain (not infrequently, lethal). Now here is an observation you can quote: those chemicals are not only expensive, dangerous and ineffective for the long haul, I have found them, at best, disappointing and , worse, to have the downsides of bizarre dreaming.
More bad news: (don’t kill the messenger, but), from the front-lines of the odyssey of aging, my prettys, here is my experience: apparently one naturally requires fewer hours of sleep as we mature. Also, apparently, some of us inherit, as we do eye color or nose shape, our sleeping skills, which come in variations. I have decided, I just drew the short straw. My wife and I are otherwise well matched but she can go to sleep in single-digit-minutes, anywhere, anytime leaving me gazing at the ceiling.
Now retired and defeated by the “eight-hour-challenge of sleep”, I have come to the following accommodation. I have a smart phone, high end ear buds and I have accumulated an embarrassingly large inventory of recorded books, in the “cloud”. At day’s end, I settle into a very comfortable chair and listen to one of my favorite books. After a few chapters, I pass out for a few hours, then listen again. I have learned to consider sleep to be like an unreliable city bus, having started late, it arrives on an erratic schedule and likely to have a flat tire along the way. Not to worry, I’m not going anywhere.
Actually I’ve discovered a modicum of revenge. Since I’ve been writing lately, I play a game with myself. When I wake up very early, I happily rip off my bpap face-mask and I think up a new idea/ subject for a blog. I have discovered that at this time my mind has discharged the clutter from yesterday, there are no distractions and new ideas magically appear. Revenge on insomnia.
Conclusion: recorded books are cheaper than chemical sleep aids and not potentially lethal. See my home page for some really good books.