Knitting up that Sleeve!

Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care —

You may be thinking that Shakespeare had a bit of a spelling problem.  Actually, though, he didn’t. Spelling hadn’t been codified yet in Elizabethan times, and so people pretty much spelled words any way that seemed attractive to them. Shakespeare himself spelled his own name, besides the one you know, as Shakespere, Shakespear, Shakspeare, Shackspeare, and Shakspere. He didn’t care a whole lot, as long as, at the end of the day, he got paid for the play.

But I think William S. did have a problem with something else. He probably had a lot of trouble sleeping. The murderous Macbeth goes on in Act 2 to eulogize sleep as:

The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, 

Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, 

Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

A warm bath, balm for pain, nourisher, knitter-up of raveled sleeves (or sleaves) — yes, Shakespeare was surely an insomniac, something he shares with the Hub.

Here’s how the Hub sleeps:

(Courtesy of 8Tracks Radio)

(Courtesy of 8Tracks Radio)

Like many people, I have trouble sleeping myself. Lots and lots of people do. For instance, these people are obviously having trouble sleeping:

Nighthawk Cafe, Edward Hopper

Did you know that there’s even a field of medicine involved with sleep disorders? I didn’t, not until the Hub started getting interactive with his dreams, and a retired neurologist friend suggested the possibility of a sleep disorder.

How the Hub wants to sleep:

Sleeping Buddha

He was supposed to go tonight to a highly regarded sleep center, to pass an evening wired and under camera surveillance. (Who could sleep under those conditions, I ask you????) But the Great Freeze that’s paralyzed the West and middle of the nation now extends into New England, so the experiment’s been called on account of weather and postponed till a future date.

Meanwhile, then, I’m calling on those of you out there who don’t sleep so well yourselves. What’s your advice on dealing with sleeplessness? Tricks, secrets, strategies, all are welcome. (A vegan cartoon suggestion about counting cubes of tofu jumping over a hedge has been tried and found wanting, however.) Maybe we can all help each other.  As we say out here in cyberspace, TIA, and sweet dreams!

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This entry was posted in Buddha, Etcetera, Health, Medicine, Pioneer Valley, Quotes and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Knitting up that Sleeve!

  1. 1) drugs 2) do you think the big freeze is coming here? Noooooo

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      As for 1) he’s done the Ambien bit. Worked for a while, then just cost money. Unless you had something wilder in mind?
      As for 2) let us devoutly hope not! You’ve had your fair share of rotten cold weather already, methinks.

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  2. First of all, you are in good company together with the Hub. I have friends and family members with sleep disorders who have done sleep studies and have CPap breathing machines.
    I suffer from nightmares and with careful therapy in the Valley, I can sleep better more, more often. I also have a bed wedge and stacks of pillow to keep my head elevated.
    I find it helps create an atmosphere of sleep and bed time rituals. Turn off the TV and dim the lights, enjoy lit candles, relaxing music and a soothing bath, followed by milk or hot chocolate. I have read that avocado before bed also helps – perhaps not in bed! I go to be with a piece of dark chocolate and a book every night. I also practice yoga in bed by relaxing every part of my body, starting with my toes up to my head, taking deep breaths and saying a mantra repeatedly which soothes me. Mine is “Thy will, not mine, be done” to release the mind from all its clutter and chatter. To sleep perhaps to dream??? I dont think so – the dreams wake me up – but to sleep, yes. Good night!

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  3. I imitate my cat who had the best sleep habits ever – very often on my head and taking up most of my bed. I loved her warmth and her purrs and she is perhaps the best sleep remedy ever

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  4. franhunne4u says:

    Depends on the sleep problems you are facing: Trouble getting into sleep or sleeping “through” (as we say over here). If you have trouble getting into sleep, there are 1001 recipes out there – from a hot bath (a hot one, that’s frying you – so your blood pressure is falling), to a hot milk before bed time (not for vegans, obviously), no TV or Computer an hour before bed time, staying deliberately awake a whole night and not allowing yourself more sleep than four hours the next, slowly enlarging the sleeptime from there on … the list goes on and on – I myself like some valerian-tea.

    It is more difficult when you wake up in the middle of the night. Most of the time your body has had the absolutely necessary four hours – and then those awful thoughts come, every sleepless person knows – all of a sudden the minor problems by daylight turn into scary shadow monsters at night time. I comfort myself with two things – some relaxing music on the mp3-player – and to tell myself I will deal with the problem in the morning, when I can, not now … And if nothing helps, I leave the bed and read a book. With some relaxing music (via headphones, not to wake people around me).

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Alas, we both can fall asleep more or less easily. It’s the staying asleep that’s the problem. (I like the expression “sleeping through”, it’s what we don’t do.) The Hub has more awful thoughts than I do, or else I can bury mine deeper without letting my left brain know what my right brain is doing. (Maybe the other way round?)
      If we’re both up at the same time, around 3:30 am, we may go into the kitchen and take a single slice of boiled ham apiece. Then we laugh and say we’ve having our Hambien! Laughing at a good pun helps a little.

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      • franhunne4u says:

        may I ask when you two call it a day? Because – what is not too well known – most people after 40 do not need 8 hours of sleep a night anymore – and if you go to bed by nine you had 6:30 at 3:30 am – which is not bad. I found out I need between 7 and 7:30.

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        • Touch2Touch says:

          Well, there’s a problem. Because although I have a goal of getting to sleep (or beginning the process) by 10, in fact it’s more frequently 11. And now we’re talking about seriously late getting up, if sleep’s interrupted around 3-ish for an hour or so. That’s the usual story! We often end up getting 6 or 6 1/2 hours, and I really don’t think it’s enough.
          *sigh*
          Thanks for your kindness in thinking of us, Fran. Maybe you will spur us to an earlier bedtime!

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          • franhunne4u says:

            So you indeed wake up after having more than 4 hours – which makes it hard to fall asleep again. Don’t know if an earlier bedtime helps. There might be other things that will wake you after 4 or 4 and a half hours – like your bladder (sorry for mentioning this, but it is one of those things that keeps people getting up and once you have left your bed, it might not be easy, to get sleepy again). Eating at night isn’t a great idea, too … You might develop some habits there, that will make you wake up. But then I am just an interested reader of many articles on insomnia, not a doctor.
            I found depression is behind some cases as well.

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Sleep is actually complex, isn’t it?
            Bladders are a big thing in the life of over-70’s! Just a fact, but a major one. So, a complication.
            We don’t do the eating thing, but the single thin slice of ham — our Hambien! — often helps.
            Doctors are actually less help than you might think, Fran. It’s kind of a wide-open field, and your suggestions may be as helpful as an MD’s.

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          • franhunne4u says:

            Unhelpful doctors just have the wrong approach – either not the time, to find out what is really behind your problem or not the imagination, to see connections between seemingly unconnected things.
            A good doctor will not just prescribe you a pill.

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          • Touch2Touch says:

            Time and imagination — two commodities hard to come by in our present health care system. So we will have to make use of them ourselves.
            Meanwhile we hope that Frank’s sleep study next week will reveal useful information for him and the doctor both.
            Vielen dank, Fran!

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  5. Johna Till Johnson says:

    Hi Touch.. Here are some things that have worked well for me.

    1. When I’m overtired and need to sleep a long time without waking up, I mix a “cocktail” of 2 benadryl, 2 valerian capsules, 1 glass of wine (not more). I take it with a BIG glass of water and read quietly in dim light (see #3 and #4, below) until the Benadryl kicks in (about an hour or two). The Benadryl is sleep-inducing, the Valerian is sleep-sustaining–ie the Benadryl knocks me out for around 6 hours, the Valerian doesn’t help me get to sleep but keeps me from waking up in the middle of the night. Or, if I do wake up to run to the bathroom or whatever, I go right back to sleep.

    Don’t do this if you need to get up early–the Valerian doesn’t make you groggy or anything (nothing like Ambien!) but you really, really, REALLY don’t want to get out of bed the next morning until you’re ready.

    2. The best possible sleep environment is a cool, dark, quiet room. Ideally, your bedroom is naturally cool (65-68 degrees) and you’ve got blackout curtains (seriously, the kind that block ALL light) and no noise.

    If your situation is less than ideal (as is often the case for me–I travel a lot) I’ve found I sleep VERY well wearing Bose voice-cancelling headphones and a heavy sleep mask. I have to rejigger the pillows so the headphones don’t cut into my ears, but once I’ve done that they’re very comfortable.

    I also turn down the thermostat (if there is one).

    3. Do a “light fast” for at least an hour before bed (2-3 hours is better). Turn off the computer and TV, turn down artificial lights. (Ideally, switch to candlelight, but that’s a safety hazard, plus often impractical).

    No laptops, tablets, or Kindles in bed!!!! (I know, difficult).

    4. Consciously wind down before bed by reading something calming. I have a copy of Marcus Aurelius’ meditations that I sometimes read. Dag Hammarskjold’s “Markings” is another good book.

    5. Learn to self-hypnotize. I did this years ago as an adolescent (actually, I can hypnotize other people, too). It works very well for putting myself to sleep.

    6. If all else fails, my dad used to remind me that just lying quietly in the dark, relaxing your body, and letting your mind wander is restful, too.

    Try to avoid the traps of either WILLING yourself to fall asleep, or deciding after 5-10 minutes, “aw heck, I”m not going to sleep, so I might as well DO something”.

    Just make up your mind you’re going to lie there for the next 5 hours in the dark with your eyes shut, relaxing your body and letting your mind drift. Once you’ve made that commitment, it’s amazing how often your mind will cooperate by putting you to sleep!

    By the way, I have very little trouble sleeping :-). However the fact that I have a long list of tips and tricks may be the reason why!!! So tell your beloved to keep trying.. he’ll find the right mix that works for him, I’m sure!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I’m delighted with this, Johna. I think of it as a Meditation on Sleep. Worthy of Marcus Aurelius, or at any rate, of Montaigne!
      Valerian’s now come up twice in these comments. “What the Torah tells you twice is true.” So I’m going to investigate valerian tea for both of us.
      I really resonate to the cold room — because however warm we like it in the daytime, if it’s warm at night we can’t sleep. Alas, all too often, having forgotten to turn down the thermostate I wake at 3:30 and leap out of bed to turn it down — but the damage is done.
      I’m afraid that here comes the deal-breaker, though: no computer, no tablets or kindles in bed????????? I’m convinced you’re right about those. But can we do it? He OR I? You get two guesses.
      Now I’m passing this over to the Hub to read and meditate upon. Maybe even to formulate a course of action. (I really like the idea of self-hypnosis, a skill I haven’t yet acquired.) We shall see!!!! And thanks so much for a treasury of hints.

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  6. You can always come over here at 3:30am and we can ham it up together. Laughter is the best medicine

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  7. Interesting to read all the comments here, and I smiled at Hambien 🙂
    I sleep well, but I have had problems at times. I’ve tried everything and I’m not a huge fan of any kind of sleeping pill. They inevitably destroy the following day for me. Sometimes those cold medications that have the «night» version help … it’s just antihistamine in them, so I won’t get groggy the day after. I’ve tried the «focus on the breathing … breathe in, breathe out, and count them» and that’s good when you have problems falling asleep, but that’s not the case for you guys. It was much worse while I was working, as I kept staring at the clock-radio, and got more tense all the time.

    If he’s on some other, unrelated, medication, such as B/P …they can cause a lot of grief, such as nightmares, overweight too…
    shlm/Reb

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Yeah, it’s the falling back to sleep that’s the difficulty.
      Made worse because the Hub LOVES his kindle, iPhone, iPad, especially in the middle of the night!
      (Who in their 7th and 8th decades is NOT on medications like B/P????? 😉

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  8. Having fought with Fibromyalgia for years, sleeplessness and I became the most intimate of friends. Now, it’s a rare night that I don’t sleep right through. Sleep is so essential to our health and well being. The biggest tip I can pass on is to make sure your room is pitch black – as in can’t see your hand in front of your face. Studies have shown that people who spend a night, sitting up even, in a pitch black room get the same amount of restorative rest as if they had actually slept right through the night. If you wake up during the night, stay in bed, in that pitch blackness knowing your body is resting. It takes a while to discipline yourself to not get up, not read, not whatever.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I’m glad the fibromyalgia is in your past, Joss!
      You remind me that the computer connection casts a light, even though the computer isn’t turned on. I think — spurred by you and others — I’ll try and cover it at night. That’s one thing.
      The other is — the discipline required to stay in bed and rest tranquil in the darkness, as you and others suggest.
      That’s a lot of discipline, Joss! I wonder if the moral support from you and others will triumph!
      We shall see — Meanwhile, a la prochaine, mon amie.

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  9. Reading and watching tv are the two that get me snoozing right off the bat. If I wake up in the middle of the night though, all bets are off!! So I got nothin’, missy. Sorry!
    ‘Cept maybe some advice on sleepwear: If hubby is wearing that ‘nightgown’ in the photo above, maybe that’s what’s keeping him awake!!!
    I don’t mean to make light. I know it sure do stink not to be able to get through the night without eyes wide open way too often. I wish you both luck, seriously and sincerely. G

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Love your image, Gemma! T’would be most interesting sharing a bed with a Buddha. But nah, the Hub sleeps free and easy, no draperies like the photo.
      TV of course is the great seducer into sleep. When we watch of an evening, at some point, he’s likely to begin drifting off. But our TV isn’t in the bedroom — and in the quick passage from one room to another, he’s awake again. But it isn’t the initial sleep that’s so difficult, it’s the getting BACK to sleep. Seems to be a common enough problem, to which nobody has an easy solution.
      (Those who cancel remaining relaxed in the darkness are doubtless correct, but oh! it’s so hard to do that!)
      We both appreciate the good wishes, Gemma.

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  10. Jen Payne says:

    This was a fun read, despite the hardship of sleeplessness. I wish I could offer advice, but I sleep blissfully like a log.

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  11. Patti Kuche says:

    Judith, sorry to hear about you and Hub with your sleeping problems but the Hambien is so funny. Mr Kuche always finishes his day in a long hot bath with a whiskey and a book. Laptops etc never come to bed with us, we still read books in bed but . . . I am always the one who tends to wake up later in the night. What does this say about my conscience? I take myself out to the sitting room and curl up on the sofa in the peace and quiet of the night, with a book. It is amazing to see, at that time of night, what some of the neighbors (not in my building but over the way) are up to in the middle of the night, like chopping up white powder while I am waiting for the kettle to boil for my cup of tea. And sometimes, with the view out another window, the light catches me and I end up taking photos of the skyline. But, if ever I am captive to sleeplessness and can’t get out to do this I resort to naming, in alphabetical order, the states of the US. How sad is that! Sweet dreams to you both!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      In my elderly naivete, I wonder if the chopping up white powder can be what I imagine it is??????
      Worlds away from a little New England retirement village (yes, it looks rather like a Christmas card) where the woods are what shoulder up in the back, and the most exciting sight is likely to be a black bear. But since black bears are invisible at night anyway, there isn’t much to capture the eye when strolling around the house, sleepless.
      I may resort to the states of the U.S. myself! Not a bad idea —
      Regards to Mr. Kuche of the blameless conscience, and middle of the night hugs to you, “hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, ma soeur!”
      😉
      (I only throw in the hypocrite because Baudelaire did.)

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  12. Pauline says:

    Two thoughts: consider the direction your head is pointing (“Sleeping in the wrong direction can also cause health problems. Vasthu Sastra recommends that the head must be placed towards the east for undisturbed sleep. The second best sleeping direction is with the head towards the west, the third choice is south.” http://www.vasthusastra.com/sleeping_position.asp). and look into the two-sleeps theory (“We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night – but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783).

    I found that when I sleep with my head at the foot of my bed which faces west (my place is so small the bed only fits one way so I have to sleep with my head at the foot), I sleep much better – never for 8 uninterrupted hours but sometimes a solid 5. I also get up if I wake up after 4+ hours (I go to bed early) and go back to bed when I get sleepy again. Of course, I’m retired so I can do that. I’ve discovered I sleep much more deeply at daughter’s house since I’ve spent the day in vigorous physical activity. Maybe you should get a one year old in the house and see how that works 😉

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      I’m happy to discover that we have been sleeping the right way for all of our Northampton sojourn, heads to the east. At least we can’t blame our problems on that.
      I very much like your “two sleep” theory, since in practice that often happens. Maybe we should go with the flow.
      As for as having a one year old in the house, well — do you remember the story of Little Black Sambo? (back in the day when it was still being read) — when the tigers get to chasing each other round and round the tree until they finally melt into a puddle of butter? I suspect that’s what would happen to me! You’re remarkable that you’re still in one solid piece, Pauline.
      😉

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  13. Frank says:

    I believe it is just about time for me to acknowledge and thank all of you for your sympathy, support and imaginative suggestions for a a man who feels that he really has had enough lost sleep for one person. I am encouraged enough to trade mark my new motto which is Insomnia is not insoluble. Tonight, this very night, actually, I will be going to the Sleep Center of Amherst for an overnight stay to see what the professionals there can suggest. I am reminded of the times when I did something silly and created the response in some quarters that went like this. Frank you should have your head examined or something in that price range. Well who would have thought that I would really be doing just that now. But I need to do one thing more and that is to thank you not only individually, but severally. Thank you so very much MrsCarmichael, Prunella,Fran, Johna, Rebekah, Joss, Gemma, Jen, Patti, Pauline,and my own Judy, of wifely skills.

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  14. Dear Judith,
    Just like to send you my warmest good wishes for a very MERRY CHRISTMAS
    and a healthy HAPPY NEW YEAR! A year with always restful – und durchgeschlafenen – nights!!!
    Will read your recent posts quietly over the next few days….quietly without rush!
    FROHE WEIHNACHTEN – sleep in heavenly peace!!!
    Very fondly, Karin

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Karin, it sounds like you are happily past the worst of the Christmas sturm und drang, and have yourself entered into a heavenly peace!
      Thanks so much for the good wishes. Likewise to you and yours, a wonderful healthy and prosperous New Year.
      (So far melatonin seems to be helping Frank to more restful — durchgeschlafenen? — nights.)

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