to sleep or not to sleep

i occasionally have trouble sleeping. as in getting to sleep and staying asleep, so the morning after finds me conducting bleary-eyed woman-in-the-street interviews asking a single question: how on earth do you capture the attention and affection of the sandman? here, my friends, is my collection of answers:

~ don’t drink alcohol.
~ have a glass of wine every night.
~ take a shower.
~ take a bath.
~ down a sleeping pill.
~ exercise before bedtime.
~ don’t exercise before bedtime.
~ splurge on silk sheets.
~ get soft sheets.
~ get a soft pillow.
~ get a firm pillow.
~ buy a soft mattress or a firm mattress or a memory foam mattress.
~ make the room completely dark.
~ develop a bedtime ritual and stick to it.
~ go to bed at the same time every night.
~ keep the room cooler than the inside of your refrigerator.
~ make the pets sleep somewhere else.
~ slather lotion on your feet and chapstick on your lips.
~ lay your clothes out the night before.
~ eat light suppers.
~ eat heavy suppers.
~ play music.
~ play nature sounds.
~ watch tv.
~ don’t watch tv.
~ prop your legs up with pillows.
~ read.
~ light a lavender scented candle.
~ don’t take an afternoon nap, I don’t care how tired you are.

my grandmother slept on a feather mattress with a glass of water and a flashlight on the floor beside her. my brother keeps his room so cold that on any given day you can see your breath. my cousin sleeps with one and paper within arm’s reach.

my children declare they sleep best when under the quilt my grandmother made for me.

i find that some of these things work, some don’t. mostly I find that when I travel, I sleep the first 3 days. maybe i should just become a full-time vagabond.


  1. Kathyloh

    I love you – you make me laugh. I especially love your line about keeping the room colder than the refrigerator. My grandmother lived on the south side of Chicago. She slept with a mini gun (deringer?) under her pillow. I have a nightly ritual. It works 99% of the time and includes a CD of whale calls. Works for me. Love cuddling, prefer to sleep alone.

  2. Mrsmediocrity

    Ugh.Been there myself a lot this week. Must be something in the air…
    I've tried most of the things on that list too. I think it just comes down to cycles. Sometimes your mind just has things it wants to think about.

  3. Kira

    I'm a night owl, so my sleep schedule is odd and downright annoying to some people. It only works if I can sleep in as late as I want… To some extent, I guess I'm lucky that I can easily sleep 8 hours a night. On the other hand, I'd love to be able to naturally fall asleep before 2, 3, or even 4 a.m. But I do get good creative work done at night!

  4. Angela

    Someone was just telling me that in Chinese medicine, each organ has a spirit, and the liver's spirit, the Hun, travels during sleep. In that sense, it's all about the traveling, right?

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