One of the many things I’ve never been very good at is sleeping. Usually when I suck at something, I just stop doing it after a while, but never sleeping again isn’t an option, apparently. It certainly would free up a lot of time, though.
Anyway, in 1959 there was a radio DJ in New York who decided to see how long he could go without sleeping. He set himself up in a glass booth in the middle of Times Square from where he broadcast his show live around the clock.
After only a few days he started hallucinating and got extremely paranoid. He finally passed out after 201 hours – just over 8 days.
The interesting thing is that his personality changed dramatically and permanently after that experiment. He became short-tempered, irritable, had difficulty with personal relationships, was prone to depression, had trouble focusing on stuff and making decisions, got into legal trouble and just became all-around weird. He eventually died of a stroke.
So, I’m thinking that if only I could learn to sleep properly I could become as sweet, lovable and charming as Mary Poppins. Maybe I could also summon up some of Mary’s magical powers while I’m at it! That “spit-spot” instant housecleaning thing would really come in handy, for instance.
As it is, I usually wake up feeling more tired than when I went to sleep. That can’t be good, right? I do everything they tell me promotes a good night’s sleep — including a regular schedule of going to bed at a reasonable hour, getting 7-8 hours of sleep and gettin up early. But, by mid-afternoon, I might as well go home because my brain and most of the rest of me stops functioning.
Probably most of you are the same way because, in 1999 scientists discovered that humans’ natural circadian rhythms dictate a natural sleep cycle from midnight to 6:00 am and from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Seriously! How perfect would that be? You get a nice long evening. You still get to get up nice and early. And, you have a little snooze in the middle of the day when you’re not up for much else anyway.
If I’m spending 1/3 of my life doing something and I have to keep doing it, I think it’s about time I started figuring out how to do it efficiently. Otherwise what’s the point? Otherwise all that time I spend lying around is just a waste of time, right? So I’m on a mission to maximize my sleeping hours.
My physiotherapist recently recommended I get myself a couple of Mediflow pillows. So I did. They have little pockets on one side that you fill with water – the more water, the firmer the pillow. Except for the fact that they weigh a ton and you can only sleep on one side of them, they feel just like the most luxurious down pillows.
The other thing I’ve been reading about that may revolutionize my sleep is “inclined beds”. It seems we’re not meant to sleep flat and that sleeping that way is a relatively new thing.
If you’ve ever seen old timey beds and wondered why they look so short, it’s not because people were only 3 feet tall back then, but because they used to sleep more or less sitting up. They reckoned lying down flat was only for dead people and they didn’t want to tempt fate. And lord knows fate was easily tempted back then.
Most mammals also sleep with their heads elevated. Do they and the old timey people know something we don’t?
Well, I guess we just forgot or didn’t remember again until recently that we’re probably better off not sleeping flat.
“New” research is showing that sleeping on an incline can resolve an almost endless list of pains and ailments — topping the list is, of course, sleep disorders. Even raising the head of your bed by 2 inches can stop sleep apnea, snoring and breathing problems. There is also some evidence that sleeping on an incline can help with:
- Spinal cord issues
- Dermatological problems
- MS, Parkinson’s Hashimoto’s and arthritis
- Lymphatic drainage (detoxification)
- More youthful facial looks
- Maintaining body’s metabolic rate, to assist with maintaining healthy weight
- Stabilizing blood pressure
- Normalizing of blood glucose levels for type II diabetics
- Eliminating oedema problems
- Minimizing tachycardia on rising
- Reducing chances of migraine headaches
- And a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff you can read about here
Lying flat causes a build up blood in the head without the resistance of gravity pumping it around. And that’s why you feel all groggy and puffy and even headachy in the morning – and the longer you sleep the worse it is. Plus there are a lot of other things that happens to the brain when we’re lying flat for long periods of time – not good things either.
I don’t know. I’m going to give it a try. If there’s a chance I could still become a productive member of society, it would be so wrong of me not to do whatever I can to make that happen, wouldn’t it?
Meanwhile, I welcome anything else that you may do or use that guarantees a perfect night’s sleep. Because I’m tired of being tired. I’m actually half asleep at this very moment. And that’s just not right.