Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Meme: How Do You Sleep At Night?

I have never done this before. Honest. I'm not sure I should be doing it now. On the other hand, I'm truly interested in what others are experiencing in these most difficult of times.. and especially how hard times are affecting their good night's sleep.

So here's the first question. It's one that John Lennon famously posed, in song--supposedly to Paul McCartney.

1) How do you sleep at night?

Is your sleep affected by the national angst? Do you drop off easily, as you always did? Or does it take a while to get to sleep?

I was talking with a widely-respected financial whiz, the other day, upon whose judgment my wife and I have relied heavily over the years for our financial well-being, and he confided in me that he is losing a good deal of sleep over the current economic crisis and the plummeting stock market. There can be few people in America who remain unaffected by the downturn, and we ourselves--at an, um, respectable age and no longer reliant on such good things as a reliable income--are concerned about the years to come, and particularly about the length of time it might take for the economy to recover. It was hardly encouraging, in this circumstance, to learn that even a cool, wise head like this one has been losing sleep. In his NYT column last Friday, Paul Krugman wrote: "things are so bad that [even] the summarized musings of central bankers can keep you up at night."

I'm normally a fine sleeper, aside from the one or two nightly calls of nature to which I must respond. Lately, though, I have noticed that getting back to sleep is harder than it used to be. My mind is occupied, not necessarily with the global economy front and center, but perhaps--no, I'm sure--somewhere in the background. A general sense of dread. So...

2) What strategies, if needed, do you use to get to sleep? Pills? Sheep? Late night television shows? And/or...?

For me, counting sheep is useless and irritating. And breathing, watching the breath, is no longer a good option: my mind has learned, through meditation practice, that watching the breath means Wake Up! Be Alert! Not exactly conducive to the return to dreamland.

3) Do you wake up in the middle of the night, plagued by obsessive thoughts?

Actually I wake up for that trip to the bathroom. It's when I get back that the obsessive thoughts kick in. And if so...

4) What strategies do you have to get back to sleep?

Hmmm. I have to confess that, once in a while, I resort to popping half an Ambien. Otherwise, patience...

5) Are your dreams affected? Are they more anxious than before? Do they wake you up in a sweat? Or are they peaceful, innocent, undisturbed by the general malaise?

I have, yes, noticed that I have been having anxiety dreams. I have never been too at remembering any of my dreams, though. I'm lucky if I wake up with the tail end of a thread to start unraveling. Last night, a snatch: I was scheduled to give a lecture, and was boarded in a kind of dormitory with a single long corridor. I had the choice of two bathrooms for a shower before my lecture. My friend--I knew him well, but had no idea who he actually was--took one of them... and I found myself locked out of the other. So the anxiety is definitely there in the dreams, something that hangs around after I wake, in ways difficult to describe.

So how are you doing? That's what I'm keen to know. And I thought it might make an interesting meme. About a year or so ago, I kept coming across these strange beasts on the blogosphere. Not so much any more. Maybe everyone is bored with them. And I'm frankly unsure how they work, or if they're just a burdensome nuisance. But should you find it appropriate to address this theme, I'd love to read some entries on your blog sites in response.

I understand that a meme needs rules. Mine are:

Answer the questions
Link back to the original meme
Tag others to participate

I'll understand perfectly should you consider this rude, intrusive, or inappropriate. But in the spirit of authentic meme-ing, I'm tagging, herewith:

A Quiet Watercourse
Adgita Diaries
Dharma Bums
Let It Be Lindsey
Marko Polo (even though he's in Greece!)
Principle of Uncertainty
Tara Dharma
Thailand Chani
When This Is, That Is

Please let me know...

And, needless to say, any other of my wonderful blogger friends are welcome to participate as well.


Pete Hoge said...

I sleep better at night because
I gave up alcohol.

Good post.

I appreciate your comments as
you highlight that early choices
determine later events.

I chose to be a "mangy dog" in
terms of my relations with ladies,
sniffing around and rutting with
any available "bitch".


Monkhood is just the best thing
I can think of to do with my life.

sleep tight.


catnapping said...

i sleep hugging a stuffed animal my husband "won" me at a truck stop. it's a wee thing, about 9 inches tall...i think it's supposed to be a groundhog.

i'm in my late 50s, so should i die in my sleep, whoever finds me is gonna think i'm nuts...but i don't care.

khengsiong said...

I can't help but wonder:
Could the bankers, with all the benefits and bonus they receive, sleep well at night?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have been a lifelong insomniac who even faked napping as an infant.

My sleeping habits have not changed much over the years. I take melatonin, which doesn't help noticeably but seems harmless. TV often puts me to sleep, but as soon as I get into bed, the spell is broken. I do have obsessive thoughts which contribute to the problem.

I wish I could sleep more because I usually love my dreams, except for the repetitive ones in which I am onstage and when the curtain opens, I begin to speak lines from the wrong play.

It was delightful to learn more about you, Peter. Thank you for thinking of me for this meme.

Alaska's Dirt said...

I exercise and think getting out and getting fresh air is a must. Also, I don't think we use our bodies enough. I ski and do brisk walking and yoga is fantastic for calming the psyche down. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I have a hardy supply of New Yorkers and read away. Afterwards, my mind has been refocused and I can usually get back to sleep.

Gary said...

I have that problem too so I get up and work out
or walk the dog then take a hot shower. I know I'll
work till I drop since my boys are 13 and 11 so I've
just accepted that we will do our best to love and
spend time doing things together especially reading out loud at night to each other. Be well Peter and know that many love you both.

ErnestO said...

1) How do you sleep at night?
Perfect for 7 to 8 hours

2) What strategies, if needed, do you use to get to sleep?
I do not watch television to allow myself to reflect upon the day, upon my head hitting the pillow it takes seconds to fall asleep.
3) Do you wake up in the middle of the night, plagued by obsessive thoughts? NO

4) What strategies do you have to get back to sleep?
If I find myself awakening in the night I immediately get up and read, drink coffee and perfectly enjoying the solace for about two hours after which sleep almost always calls again.

5) Are your dreams affected? NO
Are they more anxious than before? NO
Do they wake you up in a sweat? NO
Or are they peaceful, innocent, and undisturbed by the general malaise?
I wish to share that many miles of walking meditations and the following logic allows such restful sleep in these troubling financial times.

“The reconciliation between mind and financial security for me did not mean giving up possessions–but to give up the possessor.”

thailandchani said...

I did it. :) It will either make me look very evolved or very shallow. LOL


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