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The Sleep Column

by Joyce Johnson

Many comments have surfaced everywhere regarding sleep challenges and I have been wanting to write a piece about it hoping readers will nod or feel some relief in knowing they have company. Sleep issues surfaced mostly since my turn with Covid in Fall of 21, and is listed as a “long-hauler” souvenir. But Sleep issues are, for a great many, the consequence of our present world state, sez me. But before I do a web search on the many stories and remedies, here’s my hands on experience:

Melatonin used to work at first, years ago, and gave me vivid dreams. But interesting for me is it doesn’t work all the time, now, and high doses almost do the opposite...huh...and I rarely get those wow dreams anymore. I suspect that any substance used habitually, rather than as needed, for long periods, disturbs balance? I am lately using just 1 mg of Mel. often but not nightly, and it does the trick most the time. Many sources claim that we over 50 are magnesium deficient, and taking it helps sleep and many other issues. There is a lot of herbal support for sleep too, available. Your comments and contribution to this column are as always welcome. I hope our columnist, Nurse Jill takes this further.

The Hiding Place – I find that when I can’t handle a disturbing, or unresolved issue during the day, it sinks into a place in mind where negatives are detained—in a cage, if you will—so I can function in harmony and not wreck my day with worry about stuff. But it returns to the surface late at night waking me, or not letting me get to sleep in the first place. A doctor once said my adrenals are over worked and “not letting me go.” Oops, that rings true. But leave my coffee alone.

Remedies: Soldiers are given advice for getting to sleep—and there can be no question or comparison as to what they sometimes have to get off their minds. They are told to tell their mind: “DO NOT THINK.” That is so ooh rah, and masterful! I love it, in fact I use it,... when I remember. Trouble is when you are at the edge of sleep, you don’t think to use the tricks, and, are subtly trapped in thought, and putting the light on to grab the sleep mask or pop a melatonin gummy in your mouth, literally reawakens you. I think that’s called a Catch22. We instead sorta wait for sleep to come, right? Well don’t hold your breath. In fact, DO breathe rhythmically! and focus on the breath and nothing else. It’s like counting sheep. In fact counting anything works as you gently (second by second) focus only on decreasing numbers which shuts redircts your attention and cuts the mental chatter off. Um...usually. I picture a calm pool of water, or a green meadow while slowly counting down from 60, and often next thing I know it’s time to get up...or only an hour or 2 passes. Hey, life is challenge.

Out of my mind? It helps to write down the day’s concerns, briefly, like in a journal earlier in the evening, which oddly gets the first step done by getting it off your mind and on to paper. Or as I do, spill my heart and thoughts in an endless saved document file, though they say it is better to scratch it out in long hand. If you are a believer, giving your concerns to God or your Higher Self to handle and resolve by morning can have really interesting and sometimes uplifting results. But in any case, like lists, it frees your mind, which is almost a requirement these days; we feel the undercurrent of fear. For many people “Journalling” works. You just have to remember to do it. Me? I sit and write a lot, obviously, so I need exercise more. Walking moves mental and physical energy out, (oxygen in) and often walks off pain, and it doesn't cost anything. This is the fun part: When doing laps inside, you can walk in PJs and socks, instead of [these days] 15 pounds of winter gear, spikes on your boots, ski mask and pole…(a tad exaggerated) Inside, I walk & stop to make a bed, look out the window, pet the dog, put a few dishes away, etc. I think I’ve already bragged about this in the recent Winter Rant column piece. Excuse please.

Enter the computer. That screen light is not good for us, everyone says. It eats melatonin and is a cause of sleep issues and sitting for hours’ causes body stiffness, often chronic, to start with. We are advised to get up and walk a lap or two every hour or so. Computers are a necessary thing, but you can buy special protective glasses, or treated lenses to hook on to yours. The glasses promoted at the optometrist I go to, are weird and fluorescent sorta. I may get some. Electronic energies affect our bodies, not to mention all the goofy and really negative web content that we suck up into our consciousness—enough to keep me awake at night anyway. Et vous? As does the full moon. I have an eye mask hanging on the bed post which is handy. I have Mack ear plugs close by which are the best noise mufflers, and stay in. When I fall asleep with the sun, I wake up too early, but I get my 8 hours in, more or less, so I get up and write then, often. Like right now. Just saying because I know many of you nod and tell me you wake up at boring hours, too. I probably have millions awake with me right now. I should start a 3 a.m. zoom chat.

This column theme is just to wave like a little flag that says you have company if you are sleep challenged. There is so much info to give re sleep health. This is only a horse’s dearve. But to simplify: doesn’t everything seem to boil down to daily effort to master the challenges to wholesome, peaceful state of mind? But when one works at personal/mental healing and growth in their life...whats the rest?… the butt will follow. Sleep better everyone, and think Peace.


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