Brody: Going to sleep a matter of routine

Webster’s Collegiate dictionary says, “Sleep is the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored.”

If a human being goes without this restorative time regularly, all kinds of physical and emotional problems may arise. Thinking gets distorted and regular problem-solving becomes harder. The longer we go without restoring, the harder it is to think and function normally.

Therefore, it is essential we get adequate hours of good sleep daily. This number of hours, however, can vary. A lot depends on age, lifestyle and the way a person is “wired.”

I have always struggled with sleep. I would go night after night unable to reach that point in bed when I could let go and sleep. The harder I tried, the worse it got.

I knew my 50-year-old body needed all the restoration it could get, but there would be no restoration going on at night. It would affect my daytime life, but still I did not devise a set routine, which I now know is necessary.

That was some 30 years ago. Since then, I have suffered sleeplessness many times but finally, now that I’m older and a little wiser, a routine is the answer to this universal problem so many have.

So I decided to do a survey. I wanted to know one thing. I asked 30 people, “When you get into bed, what do you do to go to sleep?”

About 75 percent of the people I asked were assisted living residents, the rest came from others. I even asked total strangers when I’d go out. Strangers were happy to answer me and almost everyone had a set routine. Only a few did not and they admitted to struggling with getting their body and mind to close down.

Maybe we have to age some to realize good sleep is essential. It clears your mind and renews the body. Even dreams can sometimes clarify your problems.

It also sets you up for another day of productive living. If you go without sleep, it affects your life the next day. You just can’t explain it but, “I just don’t feel right.”

I found, almost to the person, people had a set routine they followed closely to end their day for a restorative restful sleep.

Here are the results of my survey:

— Pray: 5

— Take a stiff drink: 1

— Go through in your mind all I had to do before going to bed: 2

— Hold my cat: 3

— Play soft music: 4

— Reviewed today’s ball game: 1

— Took sleeping pills: 2

— Think about the past, not the present: 1

— Lie on the floor with a bad back: 1

— If I can’t sleep I get up and walk the halls: 1

— Read a book until it falls out of my hand and I’m asleep: 1.

— Almost everyone said they turned their bodies on one side or the other to sleep.

I also got a few interesting answers to fall asleep. One man said when he placed both hands on the “center of his being” he could go right to sleep.

Another much older man told me he had to put each part of his body to sleep starting with the top of his head. A funny thing he said was he always had trouble getting his left ear to go to sleep.

Many said, “I simply go to my happy place.”

A young woman said she envisioned a curio cabinet with drawers. She would open each drawer which held a day’s event. If she was OK with it, she closed the drawer and continued until every drawer was open and she was satisfied with it. When she finally closed every drawer, she was at peace with the day and she could sleep.

I hope this has helped you set a routine that works for you when your day comes to a close and you need and want that restorative power of your body to heal itself.

Close your eyes, let your heart smile and drift away for a peaceful good night sleep.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.