SNAP ! "To Sleep Perchance to Dream"
Once it’s dark and the stars come out, all I can think about is sleep. I turn out every light in the bedroom and hallway because I hate anything shining in my eyes, even if they are shut. I climb into bed, feel the cool sheets against my legs, fluff a pillow under my head, and gently pull the soft quilt over my bone-tired body.
Then in a flash, my eyes pop open. Suddenly, I feel obligated to worry about damned near everything, whether it’s my responsibility or not. My brain shoots out a list, as long as a CVS receipt, of issues that generate anxiety and insomnia.
The National Sleep Foundation says we spend one-third of our lives asleep. Does that account for the hours spent staring into the darkness, worrying? I’d love nothing more than to comply with their recommendation for seven to eight hours of sleep for adults sixty-five and older.
So, the big question is, how do I get the best night of sleep? On a bitterly cold winter night, I might crank up the bedroom space heater past seventy-five degrees and set the electric blanket on high. I close my eyes and imagine myself unwinding under the blazing sun on a tropical island. The warm air is relaxing my muscles and easing the tension accumulated in my neck and shoulders. Wrong! My fantasy comes to a screeching halt.
Keeping the room between a cool sixty and sixty-five degrees may not sound relaxing, but it lowers the body temperature and naturally produces the sleep hormone melatonin. Melatonin reduces cortisol, the fight-or-flight stress hormone. It can lift our spirits faster than a boat drink in a coconut head. So, waking up refreshed just might feel like returning from a weeklong vacation. (We can dream, can’t we?)