The Way I See it: Sleep can be an elusive thing

Sleep like a baby need to be changed to sleep like a teenager

I envy teenagers for their ability to enter into a long, deep sleep. It seems to me the “sleep like a baby” phrase needs adjusting and “sleep like a teenager” would more accurately reflect peaceful slumber.

Many folks, this writer included, have difficulty with sleep yet it is such a basic body need for good health, to restore our bodies and to provide us with the rest needed to carry on our daily routines.

My bad habits may have started as a teen when I would fall asleep on this really ugly red velvet sectional couch my mother had. Our dog Chief would curl up on the floor beneath me and the two of us would doze away until awakened by that horrible buzzing of, back in the day, the programming ending for a few hours. Now when I fall asleep watching TV on the couch, with our black Lab Indiana Jones lying on the floor beside me, there are numerous options on the TV all evening to help me doze off.

I used to beg my mom not to wake me up so that I could enjoy the deep sleep I entered into with the lull of the television voices. I ask the same of my darling.  Neither accept this idea easily of my dilemma of sleeping on the couch and enjoying some shut eye or being woken up to retire to a more comfortable bed and lie awake.

I could have catnaps anywhere: lecture halls at university, library cubicles, my office desk (OK, when I was pregnant), cars, planes — before take-off, beaches, anywhere.

Now I struggle. Did it start when I was grieving, when I was parenting on my own and became more of a worrier, when I was juggling too many tasks, who knows, maybe all of these influenced. Bad habits can form out of insomnia and need to be changed.

Some in my house sleep easily and are confused by my struggle, “just close your eyes and think about sleep,” wow why didn’t I think of that?

There are many options that I have heard over the years to aid in sleep. A cup of hot milk, eating a banana or having peanut butter before bed.  No strenuous exercise a couple of hours before bedtime, and a routine of regular exercise earlier in the day can be very helpful and aid in a natural sleep cycle. Avoid caffeine, red wine and spicy food later in the day.

Over the years I have easily fallen asleep many evenings with the aid of a cup of Terryn Thachuk’s Sleepy Yogi natural tea, enjoying the lovely smells and comforting taste. It’s the staying asleep that is the challenge for myself and for others.  I have read hundreds of books over the years that I have started in the pre-dawn, and I would not recommend starting one you love.   A great book has kept me awake until 6:30 a.m. and then I fall asleep.

Gentle yoga, meditation, all before bed have been recommended and make sense as they help you to enter into a relaxed, calm state. Not being angry with anyone, or being upset before bed is also important.

At this stage of my life I feel like I am revisiting many of the basic healthy living concepts I promoted with my sons. Healthier eating, more physical activity every day, 60 minutes of daily exercise, less screen time, more conversations, chores. The chores are for my darling who says, “there is no downside to retirement,” as he enjoys this decompressing from work time, and seems to be enjoying routine tasks and projects. I don’t want to interfere in his pleasure.

Research says as adults we need at least seven to eight hours; some people get more, others seem to be fine on less. The way I see it the restful state of sleep aids in our body’s good health and it also allows us to enter into the magical world of dreams.

Our body’s are pretty amazing, let’s take good care of them.

Michele Blais has worked with families and children in the Vernon area for the past 27 years. She is a longtime columnist for The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday, and writing on a wide range of issues.

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