Friday, July 15, 2016

How To Beat The Wide-Eyed Monster

Place: 10th place in Creative Writing

By Miriam B. Medina (c)

“I hate it when I can’t fall asleep but everyone else can.”—Author Unknown.

Ah, the best part of the day after long hours at your job, travel for work, and a grueling merry-go-round lifestyle: your bed and pillow finally await you. You crawl into your bed, shut off the light, fluff the pillows, and with a deep sigh, you look forward to a night of soothing restful sleep.


You lie in bed exhausted, but wide-eyed, staying awake long into the night, tossing and turning in bed, staring at the ceiling, waiting for sweet slumber to engulf you. It’s the same routine, night after night. Every sound throughout the house seems to be magnified by the prevailing silence. Even the soft sound of your nasal congestion irritates you. You hear how often your neighbors go to the bathroom or raid the refrigerator as they move about, to and fro, across the squeaking wood floors. The clock inches away from you, continues to mock you with its blinking red digital numbers:

12:00… 1:00… 2:00… 3:00 a.m.

You’re overwhelmed with feelings of frustration as you brace yourself for another round with the wide-eyed monster.

You reach for the remote to see what’s going on with the news. Nothing worthwhile, just the same old, talking heads predicting either snow, rain, sleet or a sweltering humid day. You put on your robe and head for the kitchen, just like your neighbor upstairs.

You grab for your cigarettes, “Damn,” you say, “I’m out of smokes. I need a smoke real bad.” You fume when you realize you don’t have any smokes. Then you go to the freezer to pull out a can of coffee. It’s empty. You reach for a fresh can and open it. Your hand halts as the coffee scoop is suspended over the coffee maker. You remember you’re out of creamer. Ugh! How you hate black coffee, so you toss the can into the freezer. You head back to your bed and drop yourself face down on the mattress, your arms encircling a bunch of pillows, hoping to find the sleep that keeps evading you. The full moon streams through your window, so beautiful and sweet, yet you continue to toss and turn as the moon’s beams caress your face.

The night seems to go on forever.

If this scenario sounds familiar, then here’s a couple of easy tips to follow that will get your mind and body ready for sleep, so you can avoid the “Wide-Eyed Monster.” Before we even get into this, let’s figure out why we need to sleep.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the image of a bed, a crib a framework with a mattress, sheets, blankets, and a fancy comforter to settle down to sleep in for rest for the night. So now we know what a normal bed looks like. There are other items that may qualify as a bed, like an air bed, a sleeping bag, etc., so back to the question: ‘Why do we need to sleep?’

Despite many decades of research, the question of why we need to sleep is difficult to answer, though many theories have been formulated. It is still a source of debate for sleep researchers and Scientists. Sleep strengthens the immune system. It is beneficial to the mind and body by way of giving it a chance to revitalize, restore and re-energize. When you sleep you conserve energy. It restores in the body what we lose when we are awake. Therefore, sleep plays a critical role in our health and mental well-being.

Many people as they get older suffer from insomnia, whether it be short term, or long-term. Women in general are the most affected, especially those who are in their 40s and 50s that are going through menopause. It is commonly known that menopausal women have difficulty sleeping. As a result of dribs and drabs of stolen sleep in the midst of their frequent bouts of hot flashes, palpitations and night sweats, they have nothing to look forward to except fatigue and irritability when daybreak comes.

For some women these biological changes can be strong enough to significantly reduce their quality of life. Having a good night’s sleep is essential for psychological and physical well-being. Changes in sleeping patterns produce psychological effects such as anxiety, mood swings, depression, irritability and lack of concentration. When people are irritable they make other people irritable as well. When you are able to sleep better, you’ll feel more alert, work better, be more pleasant in your personality, and be more creative, which will help improve your overall attitude. This goes for everyone.

So how do we beat the “Wide-Eyed Monster” so we can wake up in the morning refreshed?

a) First and foremost stay away from caffeine and alcohol before going to bed, because they are stimulants, which will keep you awake. Caffeine is said to increase the heart rate. It also keeps your mind and body awake, which is why, if you are going to drink any beverage that contains caffeine, it is best to do it several hours before going to sleep. Please keep in mind that Chocolate drinks also contain caffeine and lots of sugar as well. The same goes for soda drinks that will give you gas and make you feel bloated, so try to avoid them as well before going to bed. Alcohol tends to make you drowsy and makes you fall asleep easily, yet not for long. You may wake up thirsty and then find it hard to go back to sleep again.

b) If possible, try not to take naps during the day, as this will also contribute to sleeping less at night.

c) Stay away from heavy meals close to bedtime, especially if you suffer from acid reflux. Also, try to eat wholesome foods. Try to eliminate sugars, fats and preservatives from your daily consumption of food. It will not only keep you healthy, but it will benefit your sleep as well.

d) Try to avoid over-the-counter medications that may contain stimulants.

e) A more pleasant way to relax your body is to soak in a hot bath with a couple of drops of aromatic oils before you go to bed, or listen to some easy listening music. The purpose of this is to ease your tension and stress.

f) Some people are multi-tasked, living their lives in a hectic way, juggling things around in order to cram in as much activity as they can. They are wound as tight as a rubber-band when they go to sleep, because they are already thinking of what they have to do the next day. One way of handling this is to simplify your schedule. Try multi-tasking in an easier way. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Stop being the hero, let everyone be their own hero.

g) Make sure your mattress is comfortable and of course firm, which will give support for your spine. While you’re at it, find the most comfortable position to fall asleep in, then make a habit of falling asleep in that position. I love to sleep on my stomach, and it works every time.

h)Try a brisk walk around the block, some cardiovascular exercise on a daily basis, or try working out at a gym during the day or late in the afternoon, which will help you unwind from stress and the daily grind of endless activities. It will make you feel more relaxed and ready for sleep. However, try to avoid exercising enegetically, 2 to 4 hours before bedtime.

i) Stop worrying about every day issues and work related difficulties while lying in bed. Also, stop worrying about whether or not you are going to be able to sleep. When you worry or feel anxious, your body and mind find it difficult to relax. Relaxation will help you sleep without the help of over-the-counter sleep-aids.

“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep. ” -Dale Carnegie

j) Try to make the temperature of your room as cozy and comfortable as you can, so you don’t wake up during the night, sweating OR freezing. Also if you feel it’s too dry and your nose is stuffed up, you can always buy a humidifier. Keep your room as dark as possible.

k) If the ticking of the clock seems to get on your nerves, then buy yourself a pair of ear plugs or throw the damned thing out. On second thought, I can’t tell you to remove the clock because you need it to wake up if and when you go to sleep.

l) Limit your intake of fluids before bedtime, which will give you the urge to wake up and urinate during the night.

Well, that just about sums it up, so put on your boxing gloves and get ready to beat the “Wide-Eyed Monster”.