All I want to do is sleep. And that is exactly what has been eluding me. For way too long. Right now, my eyes feel scratchy. The muscles in my neck are bunching up and the space between my eyebrows is a magnet for my focus. I’m a grouchy wreck this evening. Shoveled snow for nearly two hours today to get really good and tired so my control-seeking brain will have no choice but to allow the day to recede and sleep to come forward.
I can fall asleep. Eventually, that is. But within a few hours, something or another wakes me up (usually cat-related) and then I am UP. Sometimes counting backward or my mantra helps me drift back. Usually, I’m up for about an hour and a half, approximately the time of a sleep cycle.
Yesterday, I listened to a telecast by a sleep doctor, Dr. Rubin Naiman. Pleasantly, most of the ideas he discussed were new information for me, veteran researcher, though I am, on the usual “How to get a good night’s sleep” checklist. (Yes, my bedroom is cool, dark, sans television or other waking life reminders. Yes, I wear earplugs and refrain from eating too close to bedtime. It’s been a long time since I heard anything new worth pondering regarding my self-diagnosed insomnia.
Dr. Naiman’s checklist included making sure there are no electronic gadgets plugged in close to the bed. According to him, electromagnetic fields suppress production of melatonin. And melatonin, he said, is a compound produced in the Pineal gland that helps the body release heat so that deep sleep can occur. That deep sleep occurs in the first 1/3 of the night and is crucial for rebuilding, regenerating, healing and restoring the body and mind.
Another thing I didn’t know was that exposure to artificial lights — television and computer screens, for example, exposes us to blue light wavelengths. Blue lightwaves signal through the eyes to the Pineal gland that it’s daytime and the Pineal restricts the production of melatonin so that the body remains warm and we remain awake.
Then there’s the idea he talked about where, when we are sleepy during the day and force ourselves to remain awake, that can condition the body to resist falling asleep even when it’s safe and appropriate to do so!
So I’m going to turn off my laptop and don my comfy pajamas and rev down for awhile. Then, climb into bed and let go of being awake for a good and hopefully long winter night’s sleep.