Monday, July 24, 2017

Sleepless in Memphis

First of all, I must admit that I do not have sleeping problems regularly ever since I retired. They happen much less frequently now, so maybe I should just stop complaining and get on with it. That is just so not me. I want to know why. Remember, one of my blogs a few days back was titled, "Inquiring Minds Want To Know."  I have trouble turning it off. Is this a case of OCD? Don't know. What I do know is that Google has become my friend in researching for answers.

The picture above is what I go through when it happens. Last night was one of 'those nights.' You must know, even though it may be too much information (TMI), you would never find me sleeping in a plaid flannel pj. Not even in winter. I am glad that I cleared that up. Even at night, I have my dress code standards.

What I do go through is watching the clock. I see every hour on the hour. I may lightly doze, and I do mean lightly, or meditate and work on soft focused breathing to help. What I refuse to do is to get up and do something. I am not going to clean, eat, shower, read, or write. On the nightstand beside where I sleep, I do keep a pen and pad to jot down little ideas that may pop in my head for my book or blog. That doesn't even happen every night and sometimes not even every week.

When I researched about this problem of waking every hour I came up with all kinds of answers. Some of these answers simply did not apply to me. I am going to write about what I found, as maybe you may have this problem and what I researched may help someone else.

One article stated that cortisol might be the cause. This is hormonal and it makes us feel alert. If it is active at night then it may be that we are stressed or lead stressful lives. It also can be elevated with low blood sugar. If you have not eaten for a long time or have eaten a sugar loaded meal then when the crash comes in to play, your body will use cortisol to raise the sugar level to keep you awake at night. This is not a reason for me. So that cause was ruled out. One other hormonal problem is one's thyroid. Again, I have mine checked yearly and am on medication for that. So another one to eliminate for me.

Magnesium deficiency can harm a good night's sleep. Hmmm! Apparently this is the most deficient nutrient in modern society. When I researched magnesium, I was reading that not only did it help with sleep problems, but also with joint aches, headaches and leg cramps. It comes in a spray or bath crystals, as well as supplement tablets. You can also eat a magnesium rich diet which would include most nuts, seeds, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, avocados, lentils, and dark chocolate.

Before I finished my research, I decided that we would start including more of these food items in our diets. Since I am not big on adding supplement tablets, I do plan on getting the small bottle of magnesium spray. (Definitely a future blog to let you know if that works, as well as the diet. We do eat many of the foods listed, I will just be more aware of how much). I already know that a treat for me each day will be a piece of dark chocolate. 

The reasons for why I have these occasional sleepless nights could be one of several. Sometimes, it is based on stress. I can be a worrier and I worry about those I love. Sometimes, just a good talk to the person that I am worried about helps. My imagination goes crazy/wild without a lot of help. So there are times that I just need to take a chill pill and let it go, with a bit of help from my family. 

My husband and I have been dealing with Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, Supplemental, the Gap, retiree insurance, Cobra insurance...trying to get a straight answer out of anyone is like pulling teeth. After talking to others, they have had the same experience. This does not make it easier or less stressful and resolve the matter in my mind. What I must do is know that in our waking hours, we can take care of things as we need to  -  together! Two educated adults should be able to come up with questions and people to call to get the answers that we need, even if it takes an extended time period. Basically, we were able to finish another part of this off today. Still a bit more to go, slow baby steps. We both have learned that this is the best way in the long run, in that it helps us not to make the wrong decisions for our future.

We do not sleep with our smartphones on or extra lighting (except the nightlight which we have always used to avoid tripping over things at night.) It is dark in the county with no street lights. This is good, just as it is good because it is quiet except for when 6:30 comes and the neighbor lets out his dog which barks right outside our bedroom window. Even that is getting somewhat better. I am thinking there have been many complaints besides ours because they have a bark collar on him and they bring him in almost immediately. So no lighting or noise problems keeping me awake in the middle of the night!

The last thing that I pulled up to check on is about taking naps in the day, as well as just how much sleep do I really need. Well the last part of the question is that it depends on who writes the article and who you believe. Some say 6 hours and others say up to 9. For me, I believe that you must find your own time. I can function very well on 8 full hours of sleep. So, the question is about napping. If I nap, as I did yesterday, will that affect my sleep? 

According to this chart, the power nap is probably the best route to go if I get my 8 hours the night before. On the other hand, check out the 90 minutes. Maybe it is best to save a nap of that length for when the 8 hours at night did not happen.  I love Winnie the Pooh's philosophy on napping: had a chart that gave the benefits of a power nap as being: clearer thinking, increased alertness, decreased stress, improved memory and enhanced creativity. I am all for that.

My conclusion for myself is to try increasing my magnesium levels in a healthy manner and to take that power nap daily, except for days that follow a very sleepless night - then increase the time. 

Let's remember at the end of day to think of all of the positive things that happened to us. Smile. Take a deep breath. Feel the comfort of our beds. Here is to all of us having 

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