All posts tagged: Sleep

Sleepless in Suburbia

All my life, I have put myself to sleep with a novel—eyelids pulling down, dreams wending vine-like into whatever story I am reading. Sometimes I startle awake and, when I attempt to start reading again, I find that the words on the page don’t match the version of the plot my dreams invented. Proust writes about this in one of his interminable Remembrances novels, this being the only thing I remember about them. I’m sure I fell asleep to him as well. Presumably he would be forgiving. More recently, I’ve switched to getting in bed with my laptop. I watch the red Netflix page download and, soon enough, delight to the introduction: Previously on Damages. No matter how cold-bloodedly conniving Ms. Close is, I can fall asleep to her too. But then, at some wildly inconvenient hour — 2:53, 3:21 or 4:02 — I am wide-awake. Not the dozy, semi-wakefulness I recall from the time my kids were babies and wanted to climb into my bed, having peed in their own. No, I am hyper alert, …

Training the Gray Dog to Finally Fall Asleep

NyQuil. Ambien. Valium. Diphenhydramine. Melatonin. Gabapentin. These are the treats that I’ve been feeding the beast. The sock drawer full of scooby snacks that I’ve been resorting to for weeks and weeks now. Insomnia. Is. The. Worst. I’ve never been a good sleeper and recall much of my childhood spent either tossing and turning in anticipation of sleep or quaking under the covers after waking from yet another bad dream. My nightmares were epic pageants of the anxieties of youth. I can still recall a particular dream of being kidnapped that continued for three nights in a row — an actual mini-series of the psyche. I’ve been drowned in poisoned grape juice, hunted through city streets, trapped under a giant glass dome and pursued by oversized hats with eyes (I watched a lot of Lidsville for a time and never quite recovered from Sid and Marty Krofft’s dystopian vision of a world populated by both gigantic hats and Charles Nelson Reilly.) They call depression the Black Dog, and I’ve been fortunate — that particular cur …

Taking Off and Waking Up

I take a lot of long-haul trips, the kind where I’m trapped in the coach seat of a jetliner for a dozen hours or more. So I’ve learned to sleep on planes. Within a half hour of slipping the plastic off my airline-issued blanket, I’m dozing deeply, head nestled against my bright pink travel pillow. I used to fight it. I found the whole experience unsettling. One minute, I’m in New York, closing my eyes on the snowy tarmac of JFK, and the next thing I know I’m surrounded by the desert heat and social restrictions of Abu Dhabi. It’s surreal, emerging as the lights get brighter and the rustling of people and baggage brings the cabin suddenly to life, unsure for a moment where or when I am. The control freak in me took years to accept that I was OK being totally, vulnerably asleep in such a public place, under a blanket that wasn’t mine, with total strangers – and not ones I’d chosen to sleep with – reclining next to me. At …

How I Found My Tribe in an Insomniacs Facebook Group

Facebook is many things to me. Up until the election, it was mainly a fun distraction, a place to see sweet shots of my friends’ kids and adorable animal videos. More recently, I’ve been acting as town crier, sharing the latest outrageous act by the new administration and rallying the troops to battle against it. But first and foremost, it has been the place where I’ve found my tribes. First, I found groups for autism parents, people who “got” what I was experiencing – the day-to-day joys and challenges of raising a child on the spectrum. Several years later, I found another tribe: writers. These wonderful, talented women share their work and support one another. Through them, I met my third tribe: insomniacs. We found each other in the predawn hours, posting and chatting with kindred spirits in the dark, our rooms illuminated only by the light of our phones. I knew I wasn’t supposed to look at screens after I went to bed. I had been schooled in the ways of good sleep hygiene: …

How to Build the Perfect Bed

Sleep, that elusive and temperamental beast. I’ve spent my adulthood seeking it like Godzilla hunts Mothra, or the way that perimenopausal women look for sleep. Thanks to better living through chemistry, I’ve come to a mighty-fine agreement with sleep: Leave me alone for 14 hours a day, and you can have all of me the other 10. Ish. Having your own issues? Try calming lavender sachets or spray, melatonin, warm milk, calming music or Ambien (at your own risk). Surely something will stick (fingers crossed!). And once you’ve conquered getting sleep, it’s time to turn your attention to the quality of your sleep, which very often begins with building the perfect bed. Mattresses Start with foundation: A stellar mattress begets a perfect bed. The tough part? It’s completely subjective. I have some friends who swear by their “green” latex mattresses. I’ve loved my crazy-expensive, wrapped-coil Stearns & Foster, having first sampled it at my Mammy’s house and refusing to get out of it for a day or three. There are benefits and drawbacks to all …

Sleeping in My Clothes: Holding Tight to Impetuous Youth

I woke up this morning in my hotel room wearing a bra and beautiful purple flowered Rachel Roy dress, one that always makes me feel beautiful and yields compliments. It’s the dress I’ve worn recently to an important business meeting and am gearing up to wear at a talk at a library. It’s made of polyester (in China, of course), but feels elegant and classy. It is not the kind of dress one should sleep in, but the kind that should be treated with the utmost care so that it lasts as long as possible. It’s a dress I’d be sad to have disappear from my wardrobe, and yet…I still didn’t take the time to remove it from my body and hang it up, or at the very least, drape it from a chair. But alas, that is part of my vice: sleeping in my clothes, alongside sleeping in my glasses (or having them fall haphazardly onto the floor), sleeping with the lights on, not brushing my teeth or using moisturizer before bed, and generally …

Karen’s Note: Let Me Sleep On It

Insomnia scenario #1: I’m sleeping, but I can hear the freight train that runs through our backyard blasting its loud, low horn. Why is the freight train making so much noise in the middle of the night? And why is it blasting its horn so rhythmically? And how is there a freight train between two apartment buildings in Brooklyn? Oh, wait. I’m awake now. And it’s not a freight train. It’s my husband, on his back, snoring. I shove him onto his side, grab my iPhone and scroll through Facebook, maybe play some Solitaire and pray to the sleep gods for a few more hours. Insomnia scenario #2: I wake in the middle night of the night to find myself fully clothed on the living room couch, after falling asleep watching Scandal or This Is Us or Mozart in the Jungle or The Crown or The Santa Clarita Diet. (Yeah, yeah, I watch too much TV). I brush my teeth, change into pajamas and put in my TMJ-preventing mouth guard, hoping that the hours I …

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Dreaming My Way to The Other Place

“She had always lived her best life in dreams. She knew no greater pleasure than that moment of passage into the other place, when her limbs grew warm and heavy and the sparkling darkness behind her lids became ordered and doors opened; when conscious thought grew owl’s wings and talons and became other than conscious.” ― John Crowley, Little, Big That other place. When I first read these words, I gasped. I have often felt as if I lived my best life in dreams, too. A life that I sometimes believed in more intensely than my waking life. I have always been a dream machine, spinning worlds both wondrous and terrifying. My childhood nightmares came from fairy tales, of trolls under a bridge or witches with eyes the size of dinner plates. These morphed into wartime survival epics, escaping and hiding from menacing men in uniform, perhaps drawn from the Nazis in The Sound of Music. I also have a recurring nightmare in which I am driving a car straight up a vertical road and …

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How to Be Really Good at Insomnia 

Do you look at those of us with insomnia and think to yourself, “They must have so much time on their hands!” or “Think of all the things I could get done!”? Do you wish that you too could have insomnia? There are tons of diet, self-help, parenting and leadership guides out there, but what about those who wish to be good at insomnia? Well, look no further. I’m here to share with you my years of hard work and study in the field through diligent, direct hands-on experience. You’re welcome. Some people are just born with this skill and, honestly, they make it look so easy by staying up for days on end with little to no sleep as their eyes glaze over and they get more and more cranky with the world. But for those who struggle to stay awake and bask in the glory of unproductive hours of tossing and turning or long days of exhaustion, follow my simple rules and you too will be living the sleepless dream. Do identify a …

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Arianna Huffington, a Cyborg and a Bag of Chia Seeds: Or, How I Spent a Perfect Sunday in a Painfully Long Mattress Ad

April 17, 2016 was one of the finest New York Sundays in recorded history. A Sunday so glorious it could’ve actually been God’s very own birthday. The real-life manifestation of “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” Or maybe L.A. had Airbnb-ed New York City for the day, and this was its way of saying thanks. A day lit so artfully Spike Jonze could’ve eBayed his camera equipment and retired forever. The kind of day that launched a thousand High Line Instagrams with hashtag #nofilter. However, I was not at the High Line. Instead, I was indoors at Casper’s’s first “Sleep Symposium.” Casper, the e-commerce company that will ship you a mattress that comes folded in half in a cardboard box. TueNight had asked if I’d cover the event for their “Sleep” issue. Now, why did I answer “sure, why not” as opposed to making up some bullshit excuse? I have no clue. It was pretty out of character considering I’m EXTREMELY lazy, and I like to spend my Sundays in almost complete monastic silence at …

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Ovarian Rhapsody: It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. It’s… Cancer Lady?

I am a superhero. Stronger than a shot of Lovenox into my body — twice a day! Powerful enough to withstand my first surgery ever! (Wait, make that two surgeries in two months.) Able to shave my entire head and utter, “Pssh that tweren’t so bad.” You see, even though cancer, chemo and the ensuing side effects are hellish, there is a bright side: Sometimes, I actually feel like a badass. I strut into Duane Reade, bald head shiny and a-blazing, all sweatpants and felt slip-ons, ready to pick up my meds. I look people right in the eyeball. Yup, that’s me — Cancer Lady. Cape on. Power up the invisible jet. Since my ovarian cancer diagnosis last November, and especially since undergoing chemotherapy, there are things I’ve dealt with things that I never thought I’d be able to withstand. Before, I could barely even give my cat Alice a shot in her little fleshy parts, let alone my own. Now? Hell, I’m a pro. My super powers don’t end there. My sense of smell …

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Ode to the Yellow Couch and Other Thoughts on Napping

I’m thinking about buying a new couch. The one we have has served us well for a decade or so, but the fabric is faded and the stuffing is mostly dead. Here’s the problem: When I mentioned my plan to my family, they pitched a collective fit. “Noooo,” they whined. “We love the yellow couch. It’s the nap spot.” This couch is not particularly long or deep. Napping on it requires bending your knees or propping your feet up on an arm. Yet, when I brought up the possibility of replacing it, you would’ve thought I suggested murdering Grandma. As far as nap spots go, the yellow couch isn’t my top choice. It’s in a high traffic, sometimes noisy location. You’re on display to anyone traveling from kitchen to bathroom, and, depending on which end you rest your head, your ears could be next to a giant speaker. But my husband and sons love it, so for now I’ve capitulated. The yellow couch stays. Apparently people are pretty idiosyncratic about nap preferences. Some need silence …

Snoring: My Not-So-Secret Crime

Once upon a time, I had to sleep in a bunkhouse on a women’s retreat. As per usual, in a group sleeping situation, I did not sleep well. I sensed rustling around in the room all night. It was hot, and I was uncomfortable — as it turned out, with good reason. When I woke up, one of the women in my group was glaring at me. “Damn Laurie, you snore,” she said. “I didn’t sleep at all last night. Thanks a lot.” My face went red. I felt deep embarrassment. Of course I knew this would happen. I had asked for my own sleeping space, as snorers frequently do, and was shot down. There was nowhere else to put me. I had told the organizers what the problem might be, and they blew it off. They never should have. It typically ends well for no one. This happened again, on a trip to Vietnam after a day-long journey. Again, I’d warned my professors that I might bother my roommate. No one listened. Anger ensued, …

Margit’s Note: Are You Up?

I am too tired to write this editor’s note for our second SLEEP issue. So I decided to delegate. You fancy folks call it “crowdsourcing.” To that end, I posed seven very important questions on Facebook: The respondents numbered 50. Forty-seven women and three dudes. I cut it off there because it’s a nice number and time’s a-ticking. You snooze, you lose. To outsource this even further, I enlisted FancyHands.com to turn my Facebook post into a spreadsheet so I could easily sort the data. Perhaps this issue should have been called LAZY… Nonetheless, the answers were fascinating-ish. Here’s what we uncovered: Favorite Sleeping Position: Thirty-three (66%) of you are side sleepers. Six (12%) of you noted “always on the left,” and four (8%) of you noted “always on the right.” You four might want to read this article because apparently you’re doing it all wrong according to this very reputable site called OMGFacts. Seven (14%) of you are back sleepers, and one of those described her prone position thusly: “Flat on my back arms …

Sleeping Your Way Around The World — No, Really

I used to think traveling for work would be an amazing benefit, collecting miles and points for my personal use later on. While living in San Francisco, I even took a job with a company partially because it boasted offices in 31 cities across 16 countries, and lured me with project collaborations in Paris and Rome. I never travelled further than Palo Alto. Eventually, I moved back to New York and was hired by a company that wanted me to travel quite a bit. That was when I learned a hard truth: work travel is nothing like vacation. It’s more like a series of redeyes to minimize hotel expenses, and thus, sleep. I’ve arrived at many meetings and conferences feeling like one of the faceless cast members of the The Walking Dead. But I’ve also learned that while there’s no substitute for a comfortable bed in a dark, quiet place, there are some tricks and tools that can help you sleep just about anywhere. 1. Pack for Comfort Remember when all airplanes and all the …

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My Year of Streaming Dangerously

After years of pushing my night owl habit to unhealthy limits, I committed to sleeping a solid eight hours every night. It quickly turned into the most well-rested year of my adult life. Then I got a Roku. I wasn’t a binge-watcher at the time. All I wanted was the ability to keep up with the shows I heard my friends and the internet go on about. I didn’t feel like a pop culture writer who had never seen True Detective or Breaking Bad could call herself legit. I also wanted to revisit Friday Night Lights. Plus, House of Cards was about to begin, and I needed to watch Orange is the New Black. I did not want to watch any of this on my computer. I work on the Internet; I already spend many hours every day staring at a smallish screen, and I didn’t want to move my TV-watching habits there too. I wanted to watch actual shows on actual television from my actual couch. With one cable, the tiny Roku connected my …

Night Owl: On Keeping a Teenager’s Schedule in This Grown-Up Life

JULIET: Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day: It was the nightingale, and not the lark, That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear; Nightly she sings on yonder pomegranate-tree: Believe me, my love, it was the nightingale. ROMEO: It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaks Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east: Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops. I must be gone and live, or stay and die. Act III, Scene V is one of the loveliest parts of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: For one thing, the teen lovers are awakening after their first and only night as a married couple, after their sexy secret wedding in Friar Laurence’s cell. For another, they make arguing about whether or not it’s time to get up sound desperately romantic. It’s romantic to sleep in, everyone! Or so I argue, anyway. I’ve been a night owl for 36 years and counting. [pullquote]I try to float …

An Insomniac Gets Serious About Her Snooze

A couple of years ago during a routine checkup, I told my internist I’d been having trouble sleeping for quite some time — at least a year. He nodded with a sympathetic smile and said, “Get used to it.” He explained that for many women, the combination of aging and the hormonal shifts that come with menopause is a killer cocktail for getting proper rest. Some women have a hard time falling asleep, others struggle with staying asleep and some lucky ducks, like me, wrestle with both. My doctor prescribed sleep meds and suggested supplements, all of which I’ve dutifully tried. Ambien worked fairly well but made me feel sad the next day. Lunesta made my mouth taste like nickels. Trazodone made my heart race and my head spin. For me, Duane Reade over-the-counter sleep tabs work just as well as the prescription meds, but they result in a pretty dense fog the morning after. And even as the shelf in my medicine cabinet gets more and more crowded with drugs, still I never get …

10 Songs That Will (Happily) Put You to Sleep

I definitely don’t need any help falling asleep these days. Maybe it’s maternal multitasking, maybe it’s the depleting store of hormones, maybe I have adult onset narcolepsy — I never thought to seek a diagnosis. You know who does? My reticent 16-year-old daughter, who comes alive, animated and desirous of conversation just as I am blacking out between my bed sheets. So I’ve put together a 10-song go-to-sleep playlist so potent that even she might nod off at a reasonable hour. I’m hoping it will reset her body clock so she’ll wake up at dawn like I do, ready for that chat (once I’ve had a cup of coffee). 1. Tonight Will Be Fine (Leonard Cohen cover) by Teddy Thompson The title encapsulates the hope we all harbor as we climb into bed: a good night’s sleep uninterrupted by the need to pee, spousal snoring, or sudden leg cramps. Cohen’s unmatched lyrical prowess paired with Thompson’s earnest, pure voice and strumming guitar put you in the right frame of mind for slumber. And if you’re …

The Number One Thing That’s Keeping You Up at Night

Does it surprise you that 64% of people complain of not getting enough sleep? What if we told you that using backlit electronic devices (like your phone or TV) dramatically reduces the quality of sleep you do get, and that 95% of people still use electronics the hour before they go to bed? When long-term sleep deprivation is linked to increases in obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health problems, breaking away from your devices to get more zzzz’s is more important than ever. Read the infographic below to find out why our constant use of electronics is preventing us from getting the high-quality sleep we need, and a few things you can do today to break the habit. This post originally appeared on TheMuse.com.  Infographic courtesy of Big Brand Beds. Photo of girl with phone courtesy of Shutterstock. Check out these other articles from TheMuse.com: Sweeter Dreams: 7 Surprising Tips for Better Sleep The 30-Second Stretch That Resets Your Desk Hunch Where Should You Live for Your Best Life Possible?

Do Sleep Habits Change With Age?

Welcome to of our advice column where we try to answer all of your confounding “What The…?” questions. We’ll be getting advice from experts, but we may not always have the best answer. Feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. [dropcap]Q: [/dropcap] As a 40-something woman, I know I’m turning in earlier and earlier and rising at the crack of dawn more than ever. I’m not necessarily turning into a “morning person,” but I’d definitely say that my sleep has shifted. Is that nature or nurture? Does it matter if you’re a mom or not? And what tips do you have for a more restful sleep? — Person Formerly Known as a Morning Person in Seattle [dropcap]A:[/dropcap] For this one we asked Natalie Dautovich, PhD, a National Sleep Foundation Environmental Scholar : “Some people do experience a ‘phase advance’ with age,” says Dautovich. “Meaning, that they get sleepier earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. This contrasts with late adolescence when many people show a “phase delay,” not …

Margit’s Note: Hey, You Awake?

I am generally a good sleeper. Meaning, when the conditions are right: bed, sheets, pillow, prone position — I can fall asleep tout de suite. However. Not on a plane. Not on a train. Not with the TV on. Not with an occasionally snoring spouse. Not with people blasting Pitbull outside my window at 3 a.m. (yes, why in fact would you stop the party?). And not when I’m stressed out. But — I have a trick for that last one. I imagine all the worries of the day, those actual events keeping me up, shifting to my left foot (with all apologies to Daniel Day-Lewis). I imagine physically transferring all the little angsty details to my hoof where they will be stored for tomorrow’s dissection and rumination. For some reason, it feels more practical and comforting to not let go of them, but to tuck them away in a place furthest away from my mind. Various shrinks have told me this is a classic relaxation technique and have praised me for my virtual, au …