Thursday, November 9, 2017


For umpteen years, as a poor sleeper, trying over-the-counter remedies and doctor's prescriptions -- Ambien, Valium, Benadryl, Valerian, Melatonin, various 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.

There's a relatively new 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. There's Modafinil, a stimulant that Wall street-investors use. I am not going to try them. 

Sleep experts are now saying we just need five hours a night. Most millennials (people born after 2000) are into five hours). The latest talk about sleep says "sleep less, do more." They say the Internet, email, and social networking are giving us shots of dopamine, a chemical the brain releases to simulate pleasure. We 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? Golly, we're flashed a lot of facts -- re coffee, saccharin, eggs, cholesterol, omega 3, belly fat, dental hygiene, bacteria, calories, carbs, exercise -- but I put most of this into my BB pile (bullshit baloney), where major life and death important facts seem to fade like smoke rings.

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

Therefore I do my "raveled sleeve" routine and occasionally I sing this to myself.  Try it, it might work for you.

1 comment:

Carola said...

I have trouble sleeping too. I listen to Talking Books.