Friday, August 28, 2015


I am a poor sleeper. I yawn a lot. When necessary I take a 12 minute nap on the cot in the studio.

I have been a very poor sleeper for umpteen years.  I have tried over the counter remedies and doctor's prescriptions -- Ambien, Valium, Benadryl, valerian, melatonin, many other homeopathic remedies, warm milk, liquor, gone off caffeine, counted sheep, counted chimpanzees, reviewed lines in a play, reviewed steps in choreography -- I still do not fall asleep.
I fall awake.

My current routine: After tucking pillows under my neck and knees, I mutter "Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care," repeat the Shakespeare words, counting as I start with the left leg, "One Ten Thousand, sleep that knits..." while sensing the flow of blood in 10 toes, then ankle, calf, knee, thigh, hip joint before concentrating on the right leg, and its toes. I repeat this 15 to 30 times, till my mind rebels, and a loud awareness that I am wide awake drives me out of bed into the kitchen for a snack and some TV.

I've bumped into new news: The Military is working on a process called transcranial direct stimulation (tDCS) that zaps the brain with electricity, and keeps people up for as much as 30 hours. Caffeine lasts two hours, tDCS currently lasts six. It's like Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use, according to Jama Internal Medicine, a journal published by the American Medical Association.

Uber drivers take 20 minute naps, every four hours. That means they get two hours of sleep in 24 hours.

Various sleep experts are now saying we just need five hours a night. Most millennials (people born after 2000) are mostly into five hours). The latest talk about sleep says "sleep less, do more."

Quite a few experts say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We used to get this from caffeine, and now we're sold caffeine's in toothbrushes, stockings, soap, bath bubbles, beer, marshmallows, lollipops, coke, red bull, and bottled water. (And of course, we continue to be told over and over, that caffeine keeps us awake.)

So don't drink coffee? Do drink it? Drink it less?

Guys, we're flashed a lot of facts -- re coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise -- those are the ones that stay in my mind.

Excuse me, but I put most of this into my BB pile (bullshit baloney). I've paid attention to a lot of facts that sound life and death important, but these facts have faded like smoke rings.

After a sleepless night, semi sleepless night, or a moderately good night, I do my work and do it well.  How well I do it depends -- not on sleep-- but on whether or not the topic excites me.

Thus, therefore, ergo: I am dropping my "raveled sleeve" routine. Maybe I'll learn to sing this to myself.


Carola said...

I have a lot of trouble with sleeping too. I listen to Talking Books (at a very low volume) and take Trazedone, but the doctor is trying to get to stop taking Trazedone.

Cara said...

Wow, that lullaby at the end had me almost closing my eyes at the computer! Em, I had terrible insomnia for a few years in the early 2000's, but since about 2010 or so I've been getting the best sleep of my life - knock on wood. Don't know what changed and I'm not questioning it, just holding onto my current routine since it seems to be working. I sleep about 7 hours a night. Please don't hate me. ;)

Dustspeck said...

I hear an airliner coming in for another perfect landing, but no trains or candycanes, or even a baby's rattles. No one wants my lullabies that have not already been taken; so I travel through worlds unknown, blessed to be forgotten; outside my brains, around the bend, upside-down until the end. Nighty night? Could be a title?

sez Marcus