Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sleep Soundly, Long and Often (without guilt)


I am not one to brag about my accomplishments, but today I have a confession to make. One of my favorite activities is sleeping. And I am a master sleeper. Not something I would highlight on a resume or boast about at a job interview, but sleeping is a pastime I can engage in throughout life. 

A skill, if indulged too much, that may make a person seem lazy. But sleep provides the energy and strength to do lots of other things. It is a skill to be treasured and appreciated.

Many members of my family are blessed with the ability to go to sleep rather quickly and easily. We possess a knack, a trait imbedded in our genes, passed down from one generation to the next. Usually – there are exceptions – we place our head on a pillow, or a couch, or the back of a car seat, a lounge chair or beach blanket, and nod off in a short time.
There are occasions the talent abandons us for a night or longer. Illness, too much caffeine, the daily worries of everyday life, can interfere with sleep. Luckily the sleepless periods don’t last long.

We all need sleep. Some need more than others. Sleep, for me, is a key to a successful day. A friend survives on five hours of sleep a night with no repercussions. I am a basket case if I don’t get eight (plus) hours.

Lots of folks fall asleep at not necessarily opportune times. I take a film class. When the lights go out more than a couple of folks doze off. Hub and I visited a planetarium a couple of years ago. Everyone leaned back in comfortable chairs in the darkened room and stared at a black sky sprinkled with twinkling stars. Twenty minutes later the talk ended and the lights turned on. Almost everyone in the room was asleep. Or more accurately, napping. 

A few years ago I took an Art Appreciation class. The instructor showed slides. The lights dimmed and the lecture began. Much as I tried to stay awake, to pay attention, it was a losing battle. I no longer sign up for Art Appreciation. 

Luckily there are no laws or penalties for falling asleep in public places. But that was not always true. 

Especially when individuals fell asleep in church.  
In days gone by church sleepers were denounced. Sometimes painfully. In 1643 (some sources claim 1646), Roger Scott, of Massachusetts, was caught sleeping in church. Apparently he nodded off in church on more than one occasion. Rudely awakened when a tithing man – a member of the church designated to monitor church behavior – began hitting him on the head with a cane, Mr. Scott instinctively struck back. As a result Mr. Scott was punished with a whipping, as well as the disgrace of being labeled, “a common sleeper at the publick exercise.”                                 

I have on occasion dozed off during services. I definitely sympathize with Mr. Scott. 

The art class was scheduled immediately after lunch. A full stomach can be a precursor to a nap. Water retention also affects sleep. It’s annoying when my bladder wakes me up from a comfortable sleep, or worse an interesting dream, urging me to scoot to the bathroom. Excess salt also negatively affects sleep. So...eat smaller meals, monitor water intake, decrease salt.

Are these suggestions old wives’ tales or do they actually work? 

I have no idea.

I enjoy sleeping. I find time in my busy schedule to indulge.

Research backs up my instinct that sleep is good for me. Researchers discovered a number of advantages to sleeping well and often. Like every day. Sleep is heart healthy, prevents cancer, reduces stress, improves memory and alertness, helps with weight loss (unfortunately I think the only way this would work for me is if I slept through dinner), reduces risk of depression, helps the body heal. 

Sleep is a skill worth achieving. So good luck working towards the goal of sleeping long and well. 

Sweet dreams!

4 comments:

  1. I have a distant relative who when in marine training attended church faithfully every Sunday, saying that was the one place they could sleep uninterrupted.

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  2. I need a lot of sleep but sometimes toss and turn thinking about all the things I'm supposed to not think about. Retirement is great, because if I wake up in the wee hours, I usually fall back asleep and just add an extra hour or so in the morning. No alarms! I won't say I look younger, but being well-rested improves my appearance.

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  3. I also need eight to nine hours every night. Since I got my latest fitness tracker, I now can check on how much sleep I got, and it does help to realize I'm not alone in my need for lots of sleep. :-)

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  4. Sleeping/napping is also my favorite retirement perk!

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