Life In Progress

I will not confuse my career with my life.

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My dreams are not pretty. Once I finally fall asleep, I’m assured to wake within a few hours with a dream. Sleeping is a portal to my night job: I’m racking up uncomfortable and precarious experiences while my body restores itself, (I hope.) Laboring and working out issues such as those in my dreams would be impossible to accomplish in one incarnation.

Extremely vivid dreams of our house and surrounding environs are most commonly on my night docket. The night before last, I dreamed my husband Will and I were in the kitchen tasting cold Indian food that we planned to heat up and consume the next night. Will started washing up the saucepan in the dark and I flicked the light on for him. It was 8:15 p.m.  I went upstairs to get ready to turn in early. Every light in every bedroom was ON. I tromped from room to room turning lights off and wondering, annoyed, if Will realized he had left all these lights on. As I left the back bedroom and entered the hallway, I bumped right into Will’s back. He was just standing there in the hallway, staring forward, facing the same direction that I was pointed. I knew it couldn’t be him because he was washing dishes downstairs. I got frightened and tried to scream. I awoke with a pounding heart, making a horrible croaking sound and our cat, Chitra, was looking at me with concern.

So completely chilled by that dream that, other than retelling it, I haven’t attempted to figure it out. Not sure I want to know. (Which, of course, means another display of whatever it means is in coming attractions…)

Themes of traveling, packing suitcases, searching for my hotel room and being in strange cities are also among my most frequent dream topics. Funny, that, because I’m anchored pretty strongly to home at present and don’t travel frequently. And when I do travel, I am savvy about my surroundings and in command of my suitcase and belongings —I most definitely do not wander about in a fog like I do in my dreams.

In a cupboard, there are several journals filled with over 25 years of my sleeping dreams, day dreams, nightmares and sketches. When I flip through these books and read a dream at random, it zaps me back in time to when that dream occurred and the aura surrounding it. A dream that has stuck with me for my entire life is a fever dream/nightmare from when I was a small child with pneumonia: In the dream, I knew I had to die but wanted to wait for my mother to return home. Someone pushed back a stone sarcophagus lid to a cobwebbed and crumbling tomb and I cowered and shivered to realize I had to GO into that place.

It’s getting late. Time to get ready for … work.


Needed: A long winter nap

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.