HARMON: Trouble sleeping

February 5, 2014 

What is it about growing older that keeps you awake when you know you should be sleeping?

I was thinking about this the other night while trying to go to sleep and came up with a few things. Well, let’s just cut to the chase and say it. The wife snores. OK, I said it and it’s out -- but she does and I’ll deal with the repercussions when she reads this in the paper. And we’re not talking about a soft, musical sort of snoring or a light wheezing, if you will, or that rhythm of life we become accustomed to as you sleep next to someone for 30-plus years. No. We are talking about a freight train, one of those old diesels loaded with something heavy and coming across the sheets at whatever speed those things can do with the throttle wide open.

I had a Lionel train set growing up, so I know what I’m talking about. It had one loop with four curves and two straight-a-ways (sort of like NASCAR). Oh, it was a good one and the best thing about my Lionel train was the thrill of hearing it come around the curves (sort of like NASCAR). Chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug it would go. Wooooo woooo, the whistle would sound and I’d take that black throttle switch and pour more power to it when it hit the straight-a-way (yes, like NASCAR). But, Lord have mercy, I never dreamed I’d be sleeping with one of those things.

I have no control over this one and it seems to stop when it gets a mind to and speed up just when I think it may have pulled into the station for water or a bathroom break. Sometimes it’s coming right at me and at other times it appears to have hit the curve and is rolling away.

Did you know that dogs can have bags under their eyes? The two that sleep in a crate by the bed can be heard whimpering in the night when the train is coming through and the next morning they look like they’ve been sleeping at the pound. I put the female in bed with us one night and the next morning she had a case of the frights. I found her in a pillow case. Thank goodness she kept her diaper on. But I digress.

Something else keeps me awake and that would be thinking about what I am not going to eat the next day. If I had a nickel for the number of times I have rolled over and sworn off solid food I would buy my wife one of those hyperbaric sleep chambers.

Actually, making a solemn vow to avoid food say, before noon or maybe just having a V-8 in the morning and possibly a salad at lunch, makes me feel positive before facing the “train,” and with a few sleep aids I can find a little sleep shortly before sunrise. Of course, by noon the memory of whistles and whining has long since left and I’m light as a feather and ready for some serious cheese and whatever else I can find in the fridge.

A good book, warm room, soft bed and I’m into a major nap of not less than an hour. And that brings me to the last thing that keeps me up at night, and that is, the nap.

There are loads of theories about napping -- everything from making people irritable to total rejuvenation. The key is the length. Forget the power nap and go for an hour minimum. If you find yourself dreaming, you can consider the nap a success. I would say I used to sleep when working full-time but that was done on my feet and nobody would believe it. Or would they?

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.

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