Today is Thursday, October 7, 2009. Last night–this morning, that is–my sleeping hours were from about 1:30 to 5:30 am.
But the previous night, I was so sleepy by 9 that I went to bed and to sleep by 9:30 and slept straight through till 5:30 in the morning. I can’t think of any logical reason for the difference. This physical body-machine…each one seems to be quite unique in many respects. There is no one-size fits all “Owner’s Manual,” so all of my life I’ve wrestling with the problem of “what works for me.”
The Creator is much more interested in the breath of life that he put in us, the spirit that is different from the rest of creation–the one that returns to him when the physical body-machine’s operating days are over.
He does have some things to say about food and exercise and sleep and rest and his advice is certainly helpful, but most details are left up to our personal choice.
What could have been the difference in my body between Tuesday and Wednesday? I think I didn’t take my walk either day. I did fast until noon on Tuesday and drink a cup of hot celery water, but my evening meal was the same each day. On Tuesday I felt very tired at 9 pm. On Wednesday, I knew by 10:30 that I didn’t feel an ounce of sleepiness in my body.
So I thought, “This will be a good time for some extra prayer time.” I even knelt beside my bed from 10:30 till 11:00 instead of my lazy habit of praying in bed. I remembered that Nicholas, our long time ago Peruvian friend, said that the remedy for sleeplessness was to get out of bed and pray. He said Satan won’t let you pray; you’ll be sleepy right away. I didn’t get sleepy, but at 11:00 I got in bed and continued with prayer and meditation until 12:00. I felt no physical pain, no anxiety, no special problems on my mind, no reason at all to stay awake. I was just not sleepy.
During that hour I thanked God for the privilege of communicating with him and I prayed around the world for special needs that came to my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I am not awake because someone somewhere needs some special prayer power.
At midnight I made a bathroom trip, took a few sips of water and put a Bible tape, Jeremiah, into the cassette player. At 12:20 when that ended, I felt just slightly chilled and remembered that I usually go to sleep easier if I am extra warm (and then wake up in the night feeling too warm) so I got a long flannel nightgown out of the closet and put it on over my short-sleeved pajamas. That did feel better.
Then I remembered that in Peru I used to listen to German language tapes when I was wakeful in the night. I looked over my stash of cassettes and decided to listen to the one tape I made while trying to learn some Greek before going there in 1985. It was a horrible cassette. I was just reading the grammar part of the book, and my voice was not even clear over the roar of the poor home recording setup. Even so, I let it go till the end while I ruminated about what to do next.
Sometimes in the past, I’ve been able to sleep better after a bowl of warm milk toast. I wasn’t even hungry, but by that time, 12:40 am, I decided I might as well try it. After enjoying that and taking another trip to the bathroom I went back to bed and soon went to sleep, waking up at my most usual waking time between 5:30 and 6:00, feeling the need to stay relaxed a little longer, but not sleepy.
Now, what made the difference???? The only difference I can think of was that on Tuesday at noon I took my usual assortment of individual vitamin pills that I’ve developed for myself over the years. On Wednesday, instead, I took the indicated amount of a multiple I’m trying as an experiment to see if I can simplify my life a bit. This particular formula “combines a comprehensive selection of essential vitamins and minerals with powerful enzymes, herbal extracts and natural energizers ….” But, still—both days I took the vitamins at noon. Both days I took the usual one calcium capsule and one “vitamin C with rose hips” an hour or so before bedtime.
I have on hand a natural sleep formula, and a calming herb tea from the supermarket, and they both do usually help me go to sleep. But I had no particular reason to get up early or be especially rested today, so I decided to rely on the repertoire of sleep-inducing strategies I have developed over the years.
Well, I’m thankful for the four hours of real sleep that I did enjoy, and the 70% of 3 hours, or 2 hours of rest that I got by staying in bed and relaxing (after a fashion, between the times of getting up to go to the bathroom, put on a nightgown and fix and eat the toast and milk).
And now I’ve written 875 words of foolishness about the experience. Will that help me or anyone else?
Two days later: I slept 7 hours through the next night, but last night I was wakeful until 12:30 again. This time I had vegetable soup for supper and even drank a cup of the “calming” tea, because I could feel tension in my body. I got in bed at 10:30 and prayed for special needs around the world. Then I did progressive relaxation, but without the cassette. Then I got up and read entries in one of my favorite journals—2002 and 2003–with some notes from a cassette about Sabbath rest, some book reviews, and some essay-devotional type writing. Then, since the tenseness seemed to be physical, I did some amateur “self-reflexology” massages. I massaged my feet and hands, and then practiced all the rest of the physical sleep-inducing suggestions I could remember–stretch legs out to full length and relax, massage under-side of forearm with opposite fingers, try to relax face and head muscles and especially apply pressure and stroking to what are supposed to be “sleep centers’ on the ears. Somewhere around those last activities I must have fallen asleep. I awoke at the most customary waking time for me–5:30 am–and felt rested.