Friday, March 21, 2014

SLEEP, THE FINAL FRONTIER

I have always been a good sleeper. When I was a baby, I took six hour naps and still slept through the night. When I was a kid, I napped every day. My mom was worried that when I started first grade I would automatically fall asleep at 2pm regardless of whether or not I was at my desk or in the middle of a kickball game at recess.

I still need a lot of sleep. More than the average person. Yes, I have had my blood tested. No, I do not have a thyroid problem. I simply am a sleep-centric person.

My kids are the same way. When it is time for bed, there are no fights. They lumber off to bed without a word of complaint. On weekend nights when they are allowed to stay up later, my husband and I often find ourselves alone on the couch at 9pm, wondering where the heck the kids are. They are in bed asleep. They sleep in cars when we drive. They take naps when they are sick. I know that this is very rare and that we are very lucky. The flip-side, of course, is not so great. When my kids don't get enough sleep, they fall apart, becoming weepy and irrational. Which, no surprise, is exactly what I do when I am sleep-deprived.

I also hallucinate in the middle of the night, but that's a story for another time.

Such good little sleepers, my children, except for when they sleepwalk, which is rare, but does happen occasionally.

One night, several years ago, my husband looked in my daughters' bedroom to check in on them. One daughter was fast asleep and the other daughter was missing. He checked everywhere in the house and after a few minutes, started to freak out until he saw this:




That's a foot.

He woke me up, telling me about the search for the missing child and led me to the laundry hamper. There was my daughter, bonelessly asleep, upside-down. We pulled her out of the laundry hamper and put her back in bed.




A lot of my friends suffer from insomnia, and until a few years ago, I had no idea how awful insomnia was. After I had my head injury, I had a few weeks of horrible insomnia. Insomnia is Insanity. It was so infuriating that I could be so tired and yet unable to fall asleep. To all of my friends with insomnia, I am so appalled that you have to deal with that. It is super yuck.

Sleeping pills didn't really work because of my delicate brain (see: sleep hallucinations, sleep-walking, sleep-fighting with the spouse). The only thing that worked were hypnotic guided-sleep apps. My favorite sleep app (PZIZZ) made my brain feel tingly and relaxed and I was able to fall asleep a lot easier. It turns out that the pleasant brain tingly feeling has a name. It is an ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). Neato, huh.

Ever since my head injury, sleep is no longer a sure fire thing. My friend told me about how he and his family induce ASMRs before sleep by listening to various television shows. His daughter listens to Bob Ross painting happy trees and he listens to an obscure British show about cheese.

I have two shows on Netflix that can brain-tingle me to sleep. The first one is Murder She Wrote. As soon as Jessica Fletcher finishes her morning jog, I am half-way to unconsciousness. For some reason, it reminds me of when I was a kid and would watch it in my parents's room, feeling safe and secure. Which is perfect considering it's a cozy mystery show about murder.

But right now I fall asleep every night listening to Star Trek: Next Gen. There is something so soporific about those first four sustained musical notes. And Jean-Luc's voice is so damned dreamy.

And now here is my final point. This blog post is so long and boring that it is my gift to you. Use it as an ASMR to put you to sleep. Anytime you suffer from insomnia, pull it up and read it. I bet you can't stay awake past the third paragraph.

Sleep, make it so.