|Gene presents me with his namesake.|
Quite often, I don’t get a good night’s sleep. It’s not going to sleep that gives me problems, but waking up several times during the night and not being able to go back to sleep. Usually, my bladder awakens me, and I lie there trying desperately trying to ignore it. That's like trying to ignore an itch in public. I know if I get up to use the potty, I’ll have trouble shutting down my mind when I get back in bed. But an urgent bladder keeps me awake, too.
An article in the November issue of Prevention magazine has some sleep-inducing suggestions. Keeping your thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees helps because lowering your body temperature is a precursor to falling asleep. But that’s something I’ve done for years, so no change needed.
Another sleepy-time suggestion is a no-brainer — read a good book. Prevention says you should avoid computers, phones and tablets for an hour before bed, because light-emitting devices suppress sleep hormones and disturb deep sleep. “People who read printed books before bed drop off faster and are sharper the next day,” the article says. So I stopped playing crossword puzzles on my iPad right before bedtime and started reading in bed. That combination helps me drop off quicker, but does nothing for my middle-of-the-night wakefulness.
I’ve decided that the key to getting a good night’s sleep lies buried deep in our childhood psyches, in the form of a stuffed animal. In my case, it’s a teddy bear. For the past two or three nights, I’ve slept with one that my brother gave me for my 60th birthday. It’s one of those “build-a-bear” toys that you stuff and dress the way you like. Gene dressed this one in bluejeans and a red shirt, and wore a matching outfit when he gave it to me at my surprise party. Thus the name, “Gene Bear.” He also put a recording device in each paw, then recorded four greetings. Press one paw and Gene says, “Hi! I’m Gene Bear, and you’re old,” while another announces, “I have gas.” The third one says, “Don’t forget, you share more cooties with me than any other person on the planet earth.” My favorite, though, is, “Let’s make some brownies and watch a horror movie.”
Gene Bear decorates my bed during the day, propped against my pillows. At night, I usually shove him aside or put him on my dresser. But two nights ago I grabbed him and hugged him, listened to one of his greetings, then cuddled him all night. I still woke up at least once during the night, but squeezed him tighter, smiled, and went right back to sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try ditching the meds and buying a teddy bear. Any child will tell you it’s the best sleeping pill on the market.