I turn off the lights. I turn onto my left side – facing away from that pinpoint of green light shining on the other side. Every night I think about covering that little light with electrical tape and every day I forget until it is shining and I’m lying in bed in my pajamas and I don’t know where the tape is. So I turn away until I can’t stand it anymore then I turn in the other direction and cover my face with a blanket or pillow, or try to position myself in a way that Dave’s head will block the light. I close my eyes. I’m exhausted. I try to think relaxing thoughts. I try to think about what’s good in my life. Or concentrate on the sensations in my body and try to relax each part of my body in a mindful way until I doze off. Or go through a list of all of the people in my life and wish one good thing for each of them.
I’ve recently started stretching for a few minutes before bed so that leg cramps won’t keep me awake. I try to get in bed and read, but most of my reading choices seem to bring up more questions to lay awake pondering leading me to conclude that I have to find another time to read Sapiens or Zealot. So, effective today I’m going to do my best to initiate a “no screens after 9:30” policy. The complete sleep protocol, as it currently stands:
- no caffeine later than noon
- pre-bed stretching
- no upsetting or highly engaging reading at bedtime, particularly not about current events, bloody episodes in history, mass murderers (completely unwittingly, I was reading the Best Essays of 2013 and what do you know, one was about a psycho killer), anything about the future of the planet or our species. No good fiction because then I can’t put it down.
- 5 minutes of “mindfulness” at some point in the day (I’m starting small)
- lights out by 10:30 (ideally 10 but again, building to that and it requires cooperation)
- no screens, including phones, after 9:30 (exception, once in a while we watch a movie after the kids go to bed on the weekend – this is allowed).
I read Arianna Huffington’s book about sleep last year which mostly just stressed me out about how much sleep I wasn’t getting and also didn’t provide much in terms of a protocol or recommendations for getting more sleep other than letting me know that Arianna has some pjs she loves that were a gift from a Vogue editor. Not highly recommended reading but I can say that I would highly not recommend taking sleep aids based on the data presented in that book, an option I was not considering but did to some extent freak me out in terms of the number of traffic and other accidents caused by people under the influence of chemicals related to either falling or not falling asleep.
So, in case I didn’t mention it at first, I’m having a sleep problem. Probably related to my cortisol problem (it doesn’t drop to zero or wherever it is supposed to drop to allow one to immediately conk off to sleep like my husband. He literally falls asleep within 6 seconds of lights off. Snoring and everything.)
I need to add exercise to my protocol. It is the last great obstacle to still be overcome. Well, the last one that I am currently aware of. Actually, I’m sure that’s not true. I still have some obstacles about inter-personal relationships, some conversations, asking for help (etc.). But exercise is the last great obstacle in terms of physical health.
This is all why I’m standing in my kitchen at 10:25 this morning trying to think clearly and write while my daughter builds a Lego dog and my son lines up cars to the tunes of Moana. If I’m going to write on a computer I have to get it done before 9:30 at night. So I’m going to try to find snippets of time.
I guess I can still be lucky if I’m lying awake all night, but it seems less likely. So let’s try this and see what happens.