March 17, 2011

The Sleep Issue

After springing forward this past weekend, obviously, the issue of sleep came up. The Toronto Star even had a Sleep Issue, which mulled over the subject of precious sleep, the lack thereof, and described all you can buy to sleep better. It got me thinking of our relationship with sleep --we all have one in the Western World, like our relationship with food. I mentioned, in my last post, how insomnia is a disease of our way of life. We are so obsessed with sleep that we have doctors and clinics, machines, studies, pills, vitamins, foods, tricks, bedtime stories and myths, and even merchandise to help us get more of it. We debate how much sleep an individual needs. We talk about what kind and type of sleeper we are (hypo vs hyper, and the 5-6 hours, 7-8 hours, or 9-10 hours), and analyze our dreams.

I started thinking of everyone I know who struggles with sleep: those who can't wind down; those who when they wake up, can't go back to sleep; those who don't go to sleep at all; those who fall asleep anywhere; and those who never get enough and are always tired. According to this newspaper, they can purchase expensive blinds, eye masks, melatonin pills, the right pajamas or sheets, or even a $93k mattress to help them out. But what keeps coming to mind, is what my parents used to say when I was a kid, after I spent a day in the sun, swimming in summer and playing in the snow in winter: "She is going to sleep tonight!" And it hit me. What do people of Nepal do that is so different from us? Spend most of their day in fresh air. I think it would be hard to find a person here who, after camping or skiing all day has trouble sleeping. Look at kids who play outside --they sleep like babies because it takes energy to regulate body temperature and fend off cold or heat. Fresh air is a cure for insomnia, I'm sure of it. Lets face it, we spend most of our adult life in heated or air conditioned rooms...

In my case I sleep a lot, up to 11 hours a night. Without waking. It's too much since I loose precious waking hours, but I figure one part of that is my body healing from trauma, and what better way to do that than to sleep? The other part is my obsession with fresh air. Those who know me also know my windows are open all summer regardless of the heat; that I nag my family all winter to play outside; that I would live by the lake or on a farm if I could; that I sleep with the window open as soon as March rolls in. Maybe I'm on the something.

Next Up

Saving money and living with less