Tag Archives: sleep


2015-05-26 12.07.51

“Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.” –George Orwell, 1984

I had to be at a meeting at 8am recently. This caused no small amount of anxiety in me. The night before, I laid out my clothes, set my coffeemaker, made sure my bag was packed, made sure I knew where my keys and phone were and took a Unisom.

I was on time. But I sat in a corner with my coffee and glared at everyone.

I’ve been a night person since birth. When I was a toddler, I’d happily sit on my mom’s lap all night while she studied for her college exams. I hate getting up early. By early, I mean before noon. I almost didn’t graduate from high school because I was late every. single. day. I took all night classes in college. My normal bedtime as an adult is around 1am. And it’s grudging. I get up at 7am every day and drive my husband to work. I communicate entirely by blinking and pointing.

As an added bonus, I’m also a lucid dreamer. I sleep like a minute a night. Good times!

In my search for information about night owls, I came across an article at WebMD: Why You’re an Early Bird or a Night Owl.

And I quote:

Besides the obvious problems with being a night owl if you have a day job, “night owls tend to be more depressed, have a higher dependence on caffeine, and use alcohol more,” Sharkey says. But the news isn’t all bad. A recent study in Belgium found that night owls are able to stay more focused as the day goes on, compared with early risers.

Morning people, however, also have advantages. “Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns, and have more flexible personalities,” Sharkey says. They also tend to be happier and feel healthier than night owls, according to a recent study from the University of Toronto.


Yeah, morning people sleep better and feel healthier! The whole world is built around them! Of course I am more depressed and drink more caffeine and booze, I’m tired ALL THE TIME. I’d like to make some of these happy little morning larks keep to a 6am to 2pm sleep schedule- see how “flexible” and “healthy” they feel after that? [grumble, grumble.]

Curious about what happens when you sleep? Because it’s crazy!

SecretLifeofSleepThe Secret Life of Sleep, Kat Duff

It has become increasingly clear that our sleep shapes who we are as much as, if not more than, we shape it. While most sleep research hasn’t ventured far beyond research labs and treatment clinics, The Secret Life of Sleep taps into the enormous reservoir of human experiences to illuminate the complexities of a world where sleep has become a dwindling resource. With a sense of infectious curiosity, award winning author Kat Duff mixes cutting-edge research with insightful narratives, surprising insights, and timely questions to help us better understand what we’re losing before it’s too late. The Secret Life of Sleep tackles the full breadth of what sleep means to people the world over. Embark on an exploration of what lies behind and beyond our eyelids when we surrender to the secret life of sleep.

 The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest16059340, Penelope A. Lewis

In recent years neuroscientists have uncovered the countless ways our brain trips us up in day-to-day life, from its propensity toward irrational thought to how our intuitions deceive us. The latest research on sleep, however, points in the opposite direction. Where old wives tales have long advised to “sleep on a problem,” today scientists are discovering the truth behind these folk sayings, and how the busy brain radically improves our minds through sleep and dreams. In The Secret World of Sleep, neuroscientist Penny Lewis explores the latest research into the nighttime brain to understand the real benefits of sleep. This is a fascinating exploration of one of the most surprising corners of neuroscience that shows how science may be able to harness the power of sleep to improve learning, health and more.

MossRobertThe Secret History of Dreaming, Robert Moss

What do the first major oil discovery in Kuwait, Mark Twain’s fiction and Harriet Tubman’s success conducting slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad have in common? They were all experienced first in dreams. Robert Moss traces the strands of dreams through archival records and well-known writings, weaving remarkable yet true accounts of historical figures influenced by their dreams. With eloquent prose, Moss describes beautiful Lucrecia de Leon, whose dreams were prized by powerful men in Madrid and then recorded during the Spanish Inquisition. The Secret History of Dreaming addresses the central importance of dreams and imagination as secret engines in the history of all things human, from literature to quantum physics, from religion to psychology, from war to healing.

RandallDreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, David K. Randall

Like many of us, journalist David K. Randall never gave sleep much thought. That is, until he began sleepwalking. One midnight crash into a hallway wall sent him on an investigation into the strange science of sleep. In Dreamland, Randall explores the research that is investigating those dark hours that make up nearly a third of our lives. Taking readers from military battlefields to children’s bedrooms, Dreamland shows that sleep isn’t as simple as it seems.

MansbachGo The F**k To Sleep, Adam Mansbach

Go the F**k to Sleep challenges stereotypes, opens up prototypes, and acknowledges that shared sense of failure that comes to all parents who weary of ever getting their darling(s) to sleep and briefly resuming the illusion of a life of their own. Go the F**k to Sleep is a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing blissfully off to dreamland. Profane, affectionate and radically honest, California Book Award-winning author Adam Mansbach’s verses perfectly capture the familiar – and unspoken – tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night. In the process, they open up a conversation about parenting, granting us permission to admit our frustrations and laugh at their absurdity.

Hear Samuel L. Jackson read it. (NSFW!)

sweet dreams!



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Sleep Well

Sleep is the best meditation. Dalai Lama, XIV (1979)

I once had insomnia for almost two years, fueled by a stressful living situation as well as my poor diet and sleep habits.

Cats, the sleep champions.

Cats, the champions of sleep.

As a librarian, I’m trained to do research which I do rather obsessively and, since I don’t like doctors–I hate that the first thing they do is prescribe medication rather than root out a cause–I wanted to solve this problem on my own.* I read many books and articles and then I put words into action.

What worked for me:

  • Creating a relaxing evening routine. These are the cues the body needs to trigger that it’s time to wind down for the day. This includes ablutions (like showering and teeth brushing), reading, and listening to soothing classical or new age music.

  • Not eating two to three hours before bedtime, so the body can focus on sleep, not digestion.

  • Regular daily exercise. I alternate my mornings between yoga and Synergetics, and I take two or three 20 minutes walks a day.

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time every single day.  It sounds obsessive but it works! Throughout all of my reading, this was the number one tip. I find that my body rests best when I awaken at 6am and am in bed by 9:30pm.

  • Getting some sunshine and light early in the day; it resets the internal body clock; conversely, avoiding bright light and stimulation–such as television and computers– in the evening.

  • Eating whole foods. I have never slept so well in my entire life since I went vegan six years ago; since then, I have also given up sugar and all processed foods. I fall asleep easily and I sleep through the night.

  • Nightly meditation. I clear my mind of everything before I turn out the lights.

These books were especially helpful to me:


Restful Sleep: The Complete Mind/Body Program for Overcoming Insomnia  by Deepak Chopra


How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep: More Than 100 Ways You Can Improve Your Sleep by Richard Graber


*Disclaimer: This solution worked for me but, as I’m not an expert, it may not work for you. Seek medical help if you need it.


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I Feel a Nap Coming On…

I just returned to the library after several days off over the holiday season and I admit my sleep habits changed during that time.  When left to my own devices I am quite a night owl.  I often stay up until 2 a.m., then require an afternoon nap to get through the day.  This schedule closely mimics one followed by people who live in Spain and Italy, as well as other nations in the Mediterranean and areas around the equator.  They rest, or have a siesta, during the hottest part of the day.  Although as you know, I could not blame my need to nap on any sort of heat wave.  Instead, I attribute this to my Italian heritage.  I tell everyone who questions my sleep preferences that I am genetically programmed to nap.

Napping is actually considered a healthy activity for adults as well as children.  Most people don’t get their required number of hours of sleep every night, so a nap can be a good way to recharge your batteries, and to complete your afternoon work.  It’s recommended by doctors and even NASA  for their astronauts.  Naturally, there are good and bad ways to nap.  The Boston Globe has published an informative guide on how to nap, which even includes diagrams (in case you needed them).

The Library has many books on the subject of sleep  and good sleep habits. Have a look and maybe you’ll read yourself to better sleep in no time.  And if you’re looking for me between 2 – 4 p.m. (on non-work days of course), don’t be surprised to find me napping.



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