CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: Sleep, Perchance to Dream (or Not)

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By WIMPY HIROTO

Even without strange early morning taps on my door, I have always been what is referred to as “a bad sleeper.” Since time immemorial, or thereabouts, it seems. I can’t recall when last I had a memorable “goo-goo” (Japanese child slang for fitful sleep, not a Chinese pork dish). Going back to the days when I imbibed doesn’t count. That was called passing out.

As good friends and even casual acquaintances know, I’ve always complained about the lack of getting proper zzzzzs. [Other laments in no specific order: not tall/light and handy, can’t dance, persistent pain in painful places, gold inlays.] All the while thinking it was a special suffering reserved for bad [habit]people.  I can’t think of anyone else who has suffered (aloud); it always appeared that everyone else got their proper rest and got up every morning with a cheerful demeanor, mouthwash, spousal kiss and off to work like one of the Seven Dwarfs (Happy rather than Grumpy.)

Now I find there’s something like 75 million Americans who claim they are sleep-deprived. To give you a clearer picture of the nationwide dilemma, that’s more than one quarter of the population; and more than 30 million are considered chronic insomniacs. Wowzus! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this shortcoming can lead to more serious problems, such as diabetes, obesity and depression.

I’m told most of you lucky ones trundle into bed, turn out the lights and are quickly in slumberland without counting Mary’s lambs or wearing eye patches; there is no thought given to what is on tap for tomorrow or bothered by what you didn’t do today. And before you know it, it’s morning and a brand new day. How so very lucky.

In case you’ve not been notified, let me remind you that March is National Sleep Awareness Month. Like millions of other unfortunates, CR2S already knows that warm milk, darkness, no caffeine or exercise (sex?) do not work. Staying away from liquor and heavy eating are also unsuccessful suggestions.

I recently read about a new approach to sleeplessness: Nightwave, a pulsating blue light contraption. It works like this: You project a light on wall or ceiling in a dark room. Then  synchronize breathing with the pulses of light — which will gradually slow down, as will your breathing, leading to dreamland. The fast version lasts about seven minutes; the longer version goes on for 25 minutes.

Dr. Clete Kushida, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University Medical School, hadn’t even heard of the Nightwave promotion when asked about the pulsating light theory. Even so, Dr. Kushida thinks “it makes some sense.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement but not a put-down either. “I don’t know of any evidence that slowing down breathing patterns itself will induce sleep,” he concludes, but allows anything that calms the mind could serve as a sleep aid. The Nightwave website quotes the device is available at about 50 bucks. There are other cheaper options, according to Dr. Kushida, since it is “just a relaxation device.”

Hawaiians have a word for CR2S’s dilemma: “Poho.” A waste of time.

After the last unintended hospital sojourn, the only welcomed result was an introduction to Tylenol PM. In lieu of Ambien/sleep pills (taboo), it worked pretty well. But lately the at-least-three-times-a-nite risings have returned with a vengeance. And that’s not counting the look-at-clock disruptions often occurring about every hour! [Goo-goo slumber always seems to kick in just before it’s time to get up.]

Through it all we’ve managed to survive without Rip Van Winkle, Morpheus [or morphine]. What it would be like to rise and shine like a normal human being is an anticipated short term goal; we no longer “poho” worrying about long term anything these days …

[The mystery of last week’s strange tappings continues. I continue to wear my Sherlock Holmes ear-flapped cap, without the aid of Watson or pipe, investigating the strange goings-on. A report should be forthcoming.]

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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