Toss and turn, toss and turn. On my back, on my side. Legs curled up, legs stretched out. No matter what I do, I can’t get comfortable. I count sheep, cats, dogs, and anything else that comes to mind. I even count as far as I can. Then I think of all the good things that happened today, this week, last week. I plan out tomorrow, then plan it in detail. I think of projects I need to do and plan them in detail. No matter what I do, I cannot get to sleep.
So that night, I finally gave up getting to sleep and got up and wrote a poem “Sleep! What sleep?” This actually happened a few years ago, and I’ve read the poem at a couple of different writer’s forums. And it always goes over well because folks can relate.
And now because of the pandemic, difficulty in sleeping is an even bigger problem. Last week on the radio, I heard at least three different reports on how the stress caused by the pandemic is affecting people’s sleep. More and more people were finding it hard to get to sleep with so much to worry about. And not just adults. One report was on how it is affecting children’s sleep too. And the third report was on the various ways to make it easier to get to sleep.
Because sleeplessness is now more of a problem than ever, I’ve decided to make my poem available to folks. I’ve incorporated it into card format, and it is now for sale at Backstreet Gallery in Old Town in Florence and on this very blog under the menu item CARDS.
On the front of the card is the word “Sleep” with a photo of Sir Groucho sleeping peacefully, Inside is the poem “Sleep! What sleep?”
I’ll share a couple stanzas:
Sleep! What Sleep?
You can’t sleep. You’re tired, irritable, and everything is conspiring against you:
As you press your head into the pillow, you realize even your hair hurts.
beneath your leg, the wrinkles of your pajamas begin to bug you
and with each breath, you hear the rustling of the pillow beneath your ear.
With these petty nuisances, you’ll never get to sleep.
Suddenly, your arm lying across your stomach feels much too heavy,
your leg lying on top of the other has made the bottom leg numb,
and your eye develops an unbearable itch.
You get up and look for the eye drops; you’ll never get to sleep. . . .
And on it goes for another three stanzas.
For some folks it’s only an occasional night of sleeplessness. For others it happens more often. And for some it happens so often, it’s considered insomnia.
Now that I’ve listed through the poem many of the ways to not get to sleep, I’ll devote the rest of this post on how to make getting a good night’s sleep easier. These suggestions are from an article in the summer 2019 issue of Cancer Health titled “Sleep Solutions” by Bob Barnett.
“To fully tackle insomnia, the best treatment, according to the American College of Physicians and other medical groups, is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-1). . . . CBT-1 works by helping you make changes in sleep habits that sound easy but are really hard to achieve.
*limiting daytime naps
*avoiding stimulants, such as coffee in the afternoon and avoiding alcohol in the evening
*going to sleep only when you feel sleepy at night, yet getting up at the same time each morning.
*not spending too much time in bed (seven hours of sleep out of eight hours in bed is better than seven hours of sleep out of nine hours in bed)
*establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime ritual, such as reading
*making sure your bedroom is cool, dark, and free of distractions such as cellphones, tablets, and TV.”
So if you are one who has trouble getting to sleep, try some of these and see if they help.
And check out my Sleep card. Even if you have an occcasional night of sleeplessness, you’ll relate.
One friend, after reading the entire poem, emailed me, “OMG! Have you been in my bedroom???”
Like I said, folks can relate!