Hmmm.  I seem to have lost my grasp on this whole sleeping thing. After a relatively promising first night back from Tokyo, I’ve been unable get back into a west coast rhythm.  Last night, I lay awake until 3:00 a.m., trying to remember what, exactly, it felt like to fall asleep.

I envy people who can just shut their eyes and drift off through sheer force of will, like William Shatner according to that interview I once saw with the actor many years back (or, conversely, it may have been his character James T. Kirk in the novelization of a Stark Trek episode as relayed to me by my cousin when I was a kid).  There’s nothing quite as sad and frustrating as lying in bed, desperately trying to salvage those dwindling precious few hours of darkness.  Okay, all is not lost. If I fall asleep in the next twenty minutes, I can still get in three hours sleep!  I remember reading a research article (or it may have been a true or false question on the old Hollywood Squares show) that claimed people fall asleep faster by actually trying to stay awake.  So I tried that.  And reading until I was tired.  And counting sheep.   Nothing worked.  I ended up popping a melatonin tablet and that did the trick.

Tonight, I’d rather not rely on the pill so I’m looking for a natural solution.  I recall reading a research article (or it may have been an episode of Food Detectives) that suggested chamomile tea had yielded positive results with test subjects.  I’m going to try a cup tonight before turning in. Will let you know how it goes.

Please post your surefire insomnia remedies.  It will give me something to read while I’m up late tonight.

Some interesting links:

“Things should improve, Moonves says, as Nielsen begins to count the growing number of viewers who watch shows on digital gadgets including smartphones and tablets.”  Yep, things should improve. Eventually.  For some shows anyway.  Les Moonves Urges Industry Watchers To “Stop Looking At Overnight Ratings”.

I read this while I was in Tokyo and thought it mighty brilliant – and incredibly touching.  The short story, “The Paper Menagerie”, by Ken Liu, won the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award, the first work of fiction to ever sweep all three. Read it here: Read Ken Liu’s amazing story that swept the Hugo, Nebula and – Io9 and then head on over and tell Ken how much you enjoyed it here: Home

A much as I enjoy Guy Fieri’s down-home buffoonery on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, I couldn’t help but savor this NYT critic’s extended lament to Guy regarding his new Times Square restaurant: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/dining/reviews/restaurant-review-guys-american-kitchen-bar-in-times-square.html?_r=0 .  Some of the highlights: “Why is one of the few things on your menu that can be eaten without fear or regret — a lunch-only sandwich of chopped soy-glazed pork with coleslaw and cucumbers — called a Roasted Pork Bahn Mi, when it resembles that item about as much as you resemble Emily Dickinson?” and “At your five Johnny Garlic’s restaurants in California, if servers arrive with main courses and find that the appetizers haven’t been cleared yet, do they try to find space for the new plates next to the dirty ones? Or does that just happen in Times Square, where people are used to crowding?”  Ouch.

From the gang at cracked.com: 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident.  Poor, poor, Viggo.

28 thoughts on “November 14, 2012: Sweet, sweet, elusive sleep! News of note!

  1. Two suggestions on falling asleep:

    1. Clear your mind. You’re thinking about too much when you get in bed. Don’t worry about not “sleeping”, because at least you are “resting”.

    or my sure fire method…

    2. Pretend a burgular is in your bedroom. Lay very still and don’t move or else he will know you are awake and kill you. Don’t move! Next thing you know, it will be morning, and let’s just hope he didn’t steal the dogs.

  2. Celestial Seasonings makes a tea called “Sleepytime Extra”. It has chamomile and valerian. Valerian is a natural sleep aid. The tea tastes pretty good. The thing is though, I have to get up in about fours hours to pee!

  3. I feel your pain, Joe. Did better about consistent bedtime for a while after my Disney vacation last month. My traveling companion, about half my age, kept me moving during the day. It was almost a relief to hit the sack.

    Also helps to turm the TV and other electronics off an hour or two before bedtime. Yes, my iPad has an off switch!

    It being 0100 here, I’m off to practice what I preach. G’nite.

  4. Reading a book is my surefire way to fall asleep. After a page or two I start nodding off and can barely keep my eyes open. Unfortunately, this effect happens at any time of the day, not just at bed time, which means it takes me weeks if not months to get through a book. 🙁 If I’m stressed about something (usually stressed about not falling asleep because I’m stressed!) then I’ve found some herbal pills that are supposed to reduce anxiety and they seem to do the trick. Placebo? Probably. But it works for me.

    As the Cracked article mentions, Viggo was a last minute replacement for the role of Aragorn. The actor they originally chose was fired because he refused to take swordfighting lessons. I suspect Viggo is a bit of a method actor. Rumour doing the rounds in Wellington at the time was that Viggo went everywhere with his sword, even on non-shooting days. And even slept in his armour sometimes. Alas, I don’t think he ever had a tour of the VFX studio I was working at so I never met him and can’t confirm or deny the rumours. I can’t imagine anyone else as Aragorn, though.

  5. It could just be leftover jet lag – it usually take me a full week to recover after returning Eastward that far.

    For insomnia, I’m a big fan of the “Ambiscience” apps for the iPhone, with which you can play from a selection of ambient music/sounds along with a “brainwave entrainment” track which is a series of background pulse tones at various frequencies that supposedly cause your brain activity to reflect the same state. I’m not sure if that actually works as it says, but it IS very effective for me in helping me get to sleep. At the very least, it gives my mind something to focus on, since I sometimes get what I call “busy head syndrome”, where I just can’t stop thinking about random stuff.

    Of course, then I wind up waking up in a couple of hours because the earbuds are jammed into my ears when I turn over! Usually I go right back to sleep, though.

    This is them: http://www.teslasoftware.com/

  6. My favorite sleep aid recipe is tea brewed from one part lavender and one part catnip. Catnip is a decent sedative and doesn’t have all the freaky dream side effects that come with melatonin (at least for me). I will occasionally throw in some hibiscus for flavor/color and the extra vitamin C doesn’t hurt either.

    Just be aware that catnip doesn’t play well with other sedatives or lithium. Valerian is also good but doesn’t mix with anti-depressants.

  7. Firstly, thank god for sandbars!! 😀

    Secondly, I find watching a movie the best way to fall asleep. (Alas, I will sometimes wake up as soon as the movie is over, and if I don’t restart it right away I will be up all night.) Usually I pick either a movie I love and have seen a million times (a ‘comfort’ movie), or one I haven’t seen and really do want to watch. It’s true, the best way to fall asleep is to try to stay awake.

    Thirdly, I asked Mr. Das the secret to falling asleep, and he said, ‘sex’. 😛

    das

  8. Insomnia and I have been friends for five years. Apparently…for some once it begins it won’t stop. Yes, around year three of sleeping on 2-3 hours of sleeping a night was taking a tole on my mental health. There would be times I would stay awake for three days straight. My doctor finally resorted to pills when all else failed. I just never felt tired….ever. The pills helped me fall asleep but I needed another to stay asleep. Personally I believe it added to my already going crazy mind. Pills didn’t work for long.

    I have come to the conclusion that our minds do as they please. You can only trick them so far. Ummm….6am and I am still awake. 😜

  9. La camomille pour dormir ! Si vous en buvez 6 litres, ça fonctionne…jusqu’à ce que vous vous réveilliez pour aller aux toilettes !!!
    Mon truc pour combattre l’insomnie: rester au lit les 2 yeux ouverts comme quand on conduit une auto lorsqu’on est fatigué de conduire, plus on lutte contre le sommeil, plus il est dangeureux de s’endormir au volant. Et ça fonctionne à tous les coups .
    Bonne nuit !

  10. Quickest and easiest way to cure insomnia at least in my opinion is to go without much sleep on that day, so if you fall asleep at I dunno 1am? Set your alarm to something like 4-5am, by the time night-time comes you’l feel exhausted and can sleep at a normal time 🙂

    Your only job really would be keeping awake and busy till night-time.

  11. I’ve had too many sleepless nights to not take anything when I feel another one coming up. I take half of a Gravol tablet. I’ve never taken Melatonin tabs, maybe I’ll try that too. If I have too much of sweets/carbs for supper and or dessert after supper or just before bed, I can be assured of a sleepless night, as well as getting up every half hour for a bathroom visit…

    Note: I would suggest that if anyone else notices this happening to them, get yourself checked for diabetes..

  12. I probably wouldn’t go with the tea remedy. You’ll end up with an urgent need to go to the loo just when you’re dead tired…. Trust me on this.

    I’ve heard that breathing techniques work. Slow, deep breaths that mimic a deep sleep forces you to relax and to eventually fall asleep.

  13. I have one thing that ALWAYS works. Put on a good audiobook and some comfortable ear buds that that be slept with 🙂 Then get audiobook player that
    have a “awake”-function. In my phone i have one and you need to shake the phone every 10min or it fades out the audio and stop.

    And it doesent matter if the books is super exicitng really. The right voice puts you to sleep after 5-10min no matter what. When you get tired/slow enough the player fades out and stops. Its simple but really great, and works for me close to 100% of the time.

  14. I went through some kind of hormone flux a few years ago and had a bad case of insomnia. It was horrible! I tried teas, wine, yoga, Ambien, relaxation tapes, massage, meditation, audiobooks, music, herbs, Zoloft (had bad reaction & it made me climb the walls) and exercise. Nothing really helped much. Not even Ambien would knock me out some nights. I think sex helped the most but I suppose everyone is different. After going through that insomnia bout, I can understand why Michael Jackson went off the deep end to get sleep. Lack of sleep can make a person crazy and willing to try almost anything. Good luck and I hope you find your cure 😉 . Be thankful you are male and dealing with all that hormone crap!

    I watched some of the Making of scenes on Lord of the Rings movies. It was amazing how many of the actors “soldiered” on after injuries. Viggo wasn’t the only actor with broken toes. John Rhys-Davies had to do marathon running scenes with a broken toes. It worked well for his character because he had an odd gait, being a dwarf and all. Amazing movie, acting and effects!

    Any thoughts about that whole Petraeus scandal? I’m not sure it could get any weirder. It’s like watching one of those convoluted, impossibly twisted Lifetime movies my mom loves.

  15. Make sure your feet are warm. Find the most boring book you own. Turn the light down low so you can barely read the words. Then climb into bed and read until you fall asleep. I usually make it about two pages before zzzzzzz.

    @Das LOL! That’s what my husband always says. Never works for me, though.

  16. @Joe:

    I ended up popping a melatonin tablet and that did the trick. Tonight, I’d rather not rely on the pill so I’m looking for a natural solution.

    As far as I know, Melatonin is natural (it a hormone that your body produces to help regulate your dinural cycle):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melatonin

    Or is it just an aversion to taking pills?

    Regardless, if I don’t have Melatonin (or if I’m not inclined to take it), I try to find a relatively boring book to read, and then I usually nod off after a few pages. I’ve made the mistake of reading an action novel that I couldn’t put down…not a good choice for getting to sleep. A glass of red wine also seems to help.

    @Das:

    Barb wants to go see the new bond film this weekend after I get back from Europe on Saturday. I protested that I’ll be jetlagging, but she wants to see it anyway. Your response gives me an idea of why 😉

  17. I usually watch SG1, Atlantis or any of the Star Trek series because I know the dialogue and don’t have to really watch. I roll over and listen to the story, get bored and fall asleep.

    Just finished cooking two HUGE lasagnas (about 30 lb each) for the baby shower dinner on Saturday. In the 32 years I’ve been married, I’ve never seen my kitchen look like it does now. I’m outside taking a break before I go back in to clean that disaster, then back out for a haircut and (hopefully) dinner out with Lauren. Mr. Deni will have to fend for himself. People have been RSVPing (?) as late as last night (WTF?) and asking if they can bring their kids. We’d decided on no children, wanted it to be an adults only thing, but hell, people don’t care. So now, it’s a bunch of kids coming, a few vegetarians that had the cojones to tell me they don’t eat meat (again, WTF?) and I’m wondering what to feed them. AND, I need a shower. 🙂

    1. @Deni That’s rude. But I had people say they were coming to my wedding reception. I had to limit the amount to 50 because we could not afford more. That meant that we wound up not inviting some people, some people who had become closer to us between the time the invites went out and the time of the wedding. It was $50 a plate and open bar (the facility fee, etc. would not have changed though). I think like 10 people did not show up. No one called to say, “Hey sorry I’m sick, I won’t make it.” Just no shows with no explanations. We could have invited the person who became Patrick’s godfather to take one of their places. With Patrick people have learned that if it is a “family event” we’re always a maybe–won’t really know until that day–if he is in a foul mood, I’m not taking him somewhere. We were invited to Jeff’s co-worker’s house for Thanksgiving. I have to work that day with 2 dogs and a cat, so I certainly could not say, “well, I can only have dinner between 2-4.” That would be rude. So we politely declined. If you are going to have a salad or something with your lasagna, I feel that takes care of the vegetarian. They are supposed to be there for your daughter–not worrying about the menu. If you had an assortment of cheeses, and they drink milk, then that can serve as their protein. But yes, people have forgotten about basic etiquette.

  18. Stay awake for 48 hours, by the 2nd night you will sleep like a baby. That usually does the trick for my trips to Australia and back.

  19. There’s nothing natural about jet lag. A remedy that’s not natural seems legit to me.

    Anyway, I did most of my travelling before melatonin was so popular. I’d jog in the morning sun, no sunglasses, and force myself to stay awake until the first night. I did okay like that. But I used to be one of those people whose sleep cycle kept trying to strecth out to 28 hours. Pushing it around was my norm.

    Also, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in 4 hour shifts and taking however much time you want between them. Some people do that all the time. It just feels weird for a few days when you’re tuned to 8 hours.

  20. G’day Joe

    If you find a good remedy let me know. Have the same problem, sort off. I have no problem falling asleep, but then i wake up after 2 hours and am awake for 1 hour, go back to sleep for 2 hours and awake again. Happens most nights and the family wonder why I am such a grouch lately.

    Good luck with trying the remedies.

  21. Joe: I heard on Dr. Oz that if you take melatonin, you should take it 2 hours prior to you wanting to go to sleep and you should not take it for any more than 10 days or so. It wasn’t meant to be a sleeping pill, just a sleep regulator.

    I’ve had horrible insomnia now since 1999 so I feel your pain. Like Cheryl, there are some days when I just do not sleep. At all. The longest I’ve been without sleep was 5 days and I was sobbing and mentally a mess. They really haven’t figured out why. Why? Because I don’t sleep during sleeping studies. : )

  22. Speaking of needing sleep… (but won’t be able to try the funnest cure) 😀

    “And then there’s ONE of your own cures…”

    JeffW — Some friends and I will be heading out to see “Skyfall” this weekend. Can’t wait! Then dinner later at Johnny Rockets. Anyone been there?

  23. @ for the love of Beckett:

    No Johnny Rockets near by me in Chicagoland (and certainly none here in Milan!) But now you’ve put me in the mood for a good old american hamburger when I get home! 😀 I guess I’ll see what we can find when Barb and I go to see the Bond film on Sunday.

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