With apologies to Three Dog Night for co-opting one of their song titles, today’s blog is a paean to sleep.
This morning I didn’t get out of bed. When my husband rolled out at his usual time, I turned over and went back to sleep. At 11:30 he asked me if I was getting up. I mumbled something, which he took correctly to be a negative answer, and went away. I woke up at 3:05 this afternoon.
I’m not sick, and I’m not especially tired, though the past week has been full of pleasant and tiring activities: long, productive writing periods; movies; seeing a play; making quilts; and attending a sewing bee.
Basically, I’m a squirrel at heart. All fall, I run around gathering. I love September sales of back-to-school supplies. I love not only autumn colors outside, but that quilting stores have an impressive stock of fabrics in those same colors inside. Halloween and both Thanksgivings—Canadian and American—are my favorite holidays. Fall is also the time for reconnecting socially. Organizations have Annual General Meetings. Groups and clubs start their fall meeting schedule. Schools have home-comings and tail-gate parties.
Eventually, like a squirrel, I get tired and want to hibernate. No matter how many artificial environments we create for ourselves, human beings are still mammals.
Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh (American writer and aviation pioneer, 1906-2001)
I think she was absolutely right; in the winter we need more sleep. In truth, we need more sleep all year around. Sleep deprivation—now epidemic in developed countries—has been linked to everything from the obesity epidemic, to increased accident rates, and poor vision in children.
My husband and I are sleep-information magpies. Our latest bright, shiny bauble of sleep information had to do with a new alarm clock.
The digital clock that had served us since we married suddenly began displaying random numbers at odd times. Like other disposable electronics we were told that it wasn’t worth repairing, so I set off to find a new clock. I found one with large, bright blue numerals. Let me emphasize two words: LARGE and BRIGHT.
When we plugged it in, we could have read a newspaper by the light it emitted. We had to close our bedroom blinds least low-flying aircraft mistook our apartment for the end of the airport runway. We tried draping it with layers of cloth, then towels, and finally settled for propping a 1/4”-thick piece of smoke-colored acrylic Plexiglas in front of it. That dimmed the output to where it was barely possible to sleep.
Then we read research which said that any light that can be sensed through closed eyelids disrupts the sleep cycle. Good-bye blue alarm clock. In fact, good-bye all illuminated clocks. Good-bye night light in the hall, because if that light seeps into your bedroom, that’s enough to disturb the sleep cycle.
If you need a night light to go to the bathroom safely at night, attach one of those small, round, push-on lights near the bottom of your bed. Put it in a position where you can reach it from bed, but where the light shines mostly on the floor. Wake up, reach down and push the light on, make your trip to the bathroom, get back in bed, reach down and turn the light off.
Also, good-bye running the air purifier at night. There is some evidence to suggest, contrary to the years of suggestions to create white noise for better sleep, it’s quiet that really promotes sleep.
When I did come out of hibernation at three this afternoon, I discovered that the “light snow sprinkles” forecast for the afternoon, had in fact, turned into a mini-blizzard.
I can’t think of a better reason for hibernating. Night, night.
If people were meant to pop out of bed, we'd all sleep in toasters.
~Author unknown, attributed to Jim Davis