Is news about sleep keeping you up?
I don′t know about you but I′m very confused. It′s true that many things confuse me these days – especially why people go out to dinner together but only interact with their phones. They can save a lot of money if they stayed at home, ordered in and texted each other while they ate. But that′s beside the point – I′m talking sleep here.
I seem to be on 24-hour sleep cycle – or more accurately, I seem to be on a 24-hour don′t sleep cycle. I know that it is impossible for me not to be sleeping at all, but it often feels that way. And how do I know that I must be sleeping at least here and there, now and then? Because it′s one of the most talked about topics these days, and I’ve been informed over again that a human must sleep. In fact, sleep depravation is a form a torture. I mean actual torture. So although lack of sleep seems benign, it′s not. The media is so bombarded with the topic, that I can hear it in my sleep – that is, if ever I slept.
Sleeplessness pecking away at you?
Don′t get me wrong, friends, I′m not equating my sleeplessness with true torture but it does torment me in the way one would be tormented by being forced to lie down in a chicken yard while dozens of curious fowl pecked away. It wouldn′t kill you, but for sure it would change your days. As with things that grip our popular culture today, a million pundits, a few real experts, and a grab bag of podcasters plaster the airwaves with information about sleep. And hence my confusion.
Care for a nightcap?
I heard that the older you get the more sleep you need. Then I heard that the older you get the less sleep you need. I was told that a bit of a toddy in the evening helps you sleep. And – you guessed it – then I heard that a tipple in the evening is not a good thing because it wakes you a short time into your night′s rest. So will a senior bladder. And that′s not my problem anyway – I just can′t drift off the way I used to.
OCD can be a good thing.
One piece of advice that′s been around a while is to have a bedtime ritual. Okay. I′ll try anything that doesn′t involve calling a handyman. My ritual begins with closing down the apartment before heading to bed. I check the handles on the stove, and the locks on both doors. I make sure the trashcan is securely closed, placing a small rock on top in case the Schwarzenegger of bugs finds a way into my kitchen. I close the windows with just enough of a gap to let in fresh air. I check that my computer is shut down. I charge my mobile phone in case there′s an emergency overnight. Then I turn down the ringer so it won′t disturb me if I fall asleep. I know… I know…
Taking no chances.
Onto the pre-slumber toilette. I water floss my teeth, and brush with my battery-powered toothbrush, watching the clock to do the full two minutes as recommended. Now for the face. Make-up off, face washed, anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-oxidant, anti-sagging products applied!
Is all this necessary? My memory has been imprinted with an interviewer who asked the famed department store owner John Wanamaker ″Why do you spend so much on advertising when it′s been said that only half of it works?″ To which Johnny replied, ″Because I don’t know which half.″ And so I apply Aveeno on top of Neutrogena.
Sandman, bring me a dream.
At last ready for the bedroom. I adjust my lamps, the one for reading and the one for keeping me from breaking my neck if I get up in the dark. My glasses, my water, my novel, my notebook, my pen, my pencil, my aromatherapy – lavender to calm me, eucalyptus to keep my sinuses draining – are arranged within reach. Then I check that I can easily reach the golf club I keep near the bed in case of an intruder. I considered getting a gun permit but I’ve heard that often people become victims of their own weapons. I also figured that an urban intruder would have little sway over a nine iron.
Tonight’s the night – maybe.
Finally, I moisten a tissue with a combination of the aromatherapy oils and tuck it into the front of my pajama top, and climb into bed. Ah, to sleep, perhaps to dream.
Just as I get comfortable I begin to wonder whether I locked all the locks. So I get up and check. While I′m at it I check the stove, the trash, the windows, whether the plants are thriving and so on. If anyone has any ideas of why I can′t get to sleep, I′d love to hear from you.
About the author
Arlen Hollis Kane is a Manhattan-based award-winning writer. Memos from Manhattan, her regular column for 50PlusToday, is reflective of her love affair with her hometown. Her focus is on writing about the ever astonishing people, places and events that inspire the phrase “only in New York.”
After reaching 50, she fulfilled a childhood passion by enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology. She designs and hand makes scarves, handbags and jewelry. Her abstract acrylics and photographs have been featured in a one-woman show in the Gallery of the Borough President of Manhattan, and in juried shows, including at the National Arts Gallery.