Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sleep Damn You. Sleep!

Fox Searchlight

Three weeks ago, my husband and I watched a creepy little psychological thriller entitled, Martha Marcy May Marlene. Or is it Mary Martha Macy Marlene? Did I make the Macy part up?All I know is that there was one girl, four names and me left without sleep. For a three weeks. To the director of this opus, I have this to say: thanks for parking the horrible idea of having me, or someone I love, getting sucked into a murdering back-to-nature sex cult into my brainstem and not letting go. Oh, and also: go jump off a bridge. So, now, despite the fact that the film was excellent and very well-acted, I can't sleep and no amount of wine-drinking or watching Tootsie on a continuous loop 'til the sun comes up seems to be solving the problem.

While waking up 11 times per night for three straight weeks may not sound ideal, I have used the time wisely. I have discovered that when I’m under stress of any kind, my body prefers to be conscious so that it can fret, fret, and fret some more. Good to know, right? So to counter that, I've done my level best to come up with some strategies to get my brain to turn off with the hope that normal sleeping habits will return in enough time for me become the normal, endearing and self-deprecating chica that my family has come to know and love and not the twitchy, "spazing out" Martha-Marcy-Mary-Marlene wanna-be with which she's been replaced.

 These are the top ten tricks that have worked for me so far:

1. Stop watching movies that scare the living poop out of you. Fairly self-explanatory. This leaves out early Darren Aronofsky films, anything by Michael Hanaeke or David Fincher, anything with the word "silent" or "dare" in the title and Jennifer Aniston vehicles of any kind. My eyes are drooping just thinking about it. I better write this down. Speaking of which…

2. Keep a pen by the bed. There will always be something you forget to write down. Something so pressing that it jolts you from sleep at 3 a.m. Don’t regain consciousness while you worry about remembering the important thing. Write it down and roll over.

3. Get off the couch. Exercise, mofo!. Harder than you usually do if you’re athletic. One of the less-touted benefits of strenuous exercise is that it exhausts you. Perfect.

4. Stop the nightly grind. Not coffee or tea (that's No. 7) I'm talking teeth. The last one isn't an issue for everyone of course, but I grind my teeth in my sleep. I did it before MMMM and I didn’t realize how much it was waking me until I was fit for a mouth guard, and so I mention it here. Consider it, my stress-ball friend.

5. Clear out electronics. They say you need to remove even the tiniest lights if you don’t want to mess with your circadian rhythms, and maybe that’s true. Illuminated clocks are so accusatory they might as well have an exclamation point after the time. But the little charging lights on my computer, phone, iPad, camera? Those are more of a problem if I’m already awake in the dark. Each one is a tiny siren song, coaxing me to conquer another Scrabble opponent. Not to mention how often my phone wakes me with a late-night text or call from one of the many inconsiderate louts who I have come to love. So when I’m having trouble sleeping, all the gadgets go in the living room.

6. Don’t play dead. When I’m up, I just get up. I won’t stay in bed awake for more than fifteen minutes because I don’t want my bed to become a place where I worry about not sleeping. I’ll take a bath or go read on the couch, any activity I can do supine. And if you fall asleep in the bathtub? Success.

7. Stop taking uppers. No more caffeine. If I can’t sleep, I stop ingesting stimulants because they are chemically designed to keep me awake. (I’m wacky that way.) I’ll take a two-day withdrawl headache over a month-long stint as a zombie.

8. Shower before bed. The warmth is supposed to sleepify you, and maybe it does, but I find it relaxing just to climb into bed clean. Sleeping with freshly shaved legs is also a nice bonus.

9. Get stuck. I get acupuncture once a month, and I almost never have trouble sleeping on days when I have a session. The effect is similar to a good massage.

10. Powder your nose. When you finally do get to sleep, the last thing you want is to be woken by your bladder. Use the bathroom right before bed, and limit liquid intake an hour or so before you (hope to) go to sleep.

Also, think twice before you watch a film that explores the mental and emotional anguish that befalls any person who gets sucked into a cult. Cult films? Fine. Films about cults? Only if you're looking not to sleep for a few weeks. 

No comments:

Post a Comment