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MARTHA SEZ: ‘Oh, just go back to sleep’

September 8, 2018
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

The bad thing about waking up in the middle of the night is that you are always worrying about something you can't do anything about.

The other night I woke up in the wee hours worrying about global climate change. Will this warm weather affect our autumn leaf color?

My daughter Molly is coming to visit during our typical Peak Leaf Week. What if the leaves just turn brown and rattle around and fall off the trees in a nondescript, boring way, without putting on a show?

"Oh, just go back to sleep," I kept telling myself.

There I lay, racked with worry, trying to exert mind control over Global Climate Change.

Luckily, this time it worked, but it was pretty much hit or miss.

It's a common problem. There are songs about tossing and turning all night. The source of insomnia may be thwarted romance, vain regret, or the bills that cover your desk like February snowdrifts in Saranac Lake. Do the vague aches and twinges you are experiencing presage some ghastly disease? Perhaps. Whatever is troubling you, thinking about it now is not going to help. You tell yourself this. Still, there you lie, ruminating.

It also doesn't help to know that studies conducted at a major university show that poor sleep habits contribute to development of Alzheimer's disease. Man, you've got to get to sleep!

Do sleep medications induce quality sleep, some question, or simply knock you out? They may cause you to walk, talk and eat in your sleep, even drive around in your car, with no subsequent memory of your nocturnal escapades. Worrying about how you might have made a fool of yourself is bound to keep you awake for some time to come.

Indigestion murders sleep. It is not calming to know that Harvard University studies indicate that certain acid reflux medications contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

So there you lie, wide awake, in the dark. You could read, but you'd need to turn on the light. If you sleep in the same room with someone, you know that he or she will not like to be awakened just because you can't sleep.

On the other hand, it is very irritating to listen to a loved one's tranquil snores while you lie awake in a snit.

This is especially true when, as is often the case, the person who lies peacefully slumbering next to you is the cause of your agitation, due to something said or done during the day, or perhaps several years ago. Little does this person know that he or she is fueling deep resentment inside you simply by being unconscious.

Maybe you got up to feed the baby. Maybe the dog was barking or the cat was yowling or maybe you simply woke up. There you lie, unable to get back to sleep.

The solitary insomniac may not want to turn on the light after watching scary movies or television shows before bedtime. Illuminating the bedroom is a sure way of alerting serial killers, demons, monsters, velociraptors or other predators to your location, like the old blue-light special at Kmart. You might as well just make an announcement: Here I am, night stalkers, bring it on!

My father used to say that nothing of any value gets said after midnight. I think that this is also true of the ruminations one entertains in the middle of the night.

My friend Beatrice told me that her therapist gave her a rubber band to wear on her wrist to snap every time she caught herself ruminating about certain distressing situations, or people, over which she had no control.

Another friend, Pete, suggested that a bungee cord around the neck would be more to the purpose. He figured it would step up the behavior modification process. Still, snapping yourself with rubber bands or even bungee cords probably won't help you get back to sleep.

Just when you feel sure that sleep will never come, that you will have to lie there miserably until it's finally time to get up, you fall without warning into a profound slumber which renders you deaf to the racket of the alarm clock.

Later, as you drink coffee and attempt to look sharp, your co-workers ask you what on earth you were doing the night before to make you such a wreck. What will you tell them? That you were lying awake worrying about peak leaf?

Get some sleep, and have a good week.



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