Friday, 1 February 2013

Sleeping soundly ~ in a room full of electronics

When I was house-minding I had the whole place to myself, which I was pleased about as I didn't need to concern myself with being a good guest, a consideration which can mean so many different things depending on who else is there!

The main bedroom looked just fine: it was north-facing, had a comfortable bed and I liked the big sash windows.  But that first night I slept badly, waking repeatedly and my dream world in turmoil, so much so that I couldn't face sleeping there a second night!  What to do?

Short of dragging a mattress into the living room and making up a bed there, the only other choice was a pull-out sofa bed in the room used as an office, which also contained the family's computer hub, two networked computers plus accessories, and the main telephone, all of which operated over the internet.  Because of the way the telephone was set up the whole thing had to stay live the whole time or the phone would go off the air.  

There were wires running everywhere around the room, a portion of them around the head of the bed, but the room itself felt friendly and I decided it would be worth a try.  I remained doubtful however: I am a sensitive person and pick up atmospheres particularly easily, as well as having my share of sleep problems; it seemed possible that I was going to be wired for sound and possibly have another night of disturbed sleep! 

Still, nothing ventured, nothing won.  I pulled out the bed and made it up.  It seemed okay, but the arms of the sofa part presented some difficulty in reaching for anything on a bedside table and I couldn't park anything on top of their rounded and padded surfaces...

I like to know where things are in the night and lacking anywhere convenient to put things lined them up where I could easily reach them - on the bed: the phone handset and my mobile phone - just in case I wanted to be in touch with the outside world during the small hours, and the house keys, which had the security fob attached to them.  So even on the bed I had gadgetry!

I got into bed, made sure I was comfortable, had everything I could possibly need - and turned out the light; banks of yellow-green lights on the various modems and other gear lit up the room like night lights.  Periodically the equipment 'talked' to itself, emitting a high-pitched series of squeaks after which it would lapse back into silence.  Amidst all this I went to sleep quite happily, slept reasonably well, and wasn't disturbed by anything.  Periodically I was roused by the beeps when they clicked on, but only briefly, and after a couple of nights didn't hear them at all.  

All this was a surprise to me: so much thinking these days is that electronics adversely affect our energy systems, even our sleep patterns, but this was certainly not my experience - quite the reverse!  This just goes to show that generalisations can be very wide of the mark and that individuals vary tremendously. 

One particular sleep problem I have is that after I turn out the light my mind can become active, which keeps me awake.  I have a mild medication that helps with this which I continued to use during this time.  That problem was neither better nor worse in than usual.

Some time ago I sought medical advice about this troublesome night-time characteristic of my lively intellect.  The doctor I consulted is first rate and specialises in sleep problems and I am sure his advice was and still is excellent: it involved spending the last part of every evening writing down any thoughts that went through my mind in long-hand (meaning on paper) and in full sentences.  In this way I would be putting all my busy thoughts down on paper which should free up my mind so that I could more easily relax into sleep.  I'm sure this works well for many people, but in my case what happened was that I started with small thoughts which generated bigger thoughts.  As I cottoning on to these I wrote increasing amounts in which I developed my themes, all the time automatically checked my writing for coherence, spelling and grammar.  The unfortunate outcome of these sessions was that my brain became about as sleepy as a lighthouse lamp in full motion, so I gave them up!  Sometimes I wish I were less idiosyncratic!

On the other hand, all those electronic vibes didn't bother me one bit.  But why didn't they?  Who knows, but I do wonder if they created some sort of force field around me which may have buffered my own personal force field.  I am sure we all have these.  But perhaps it was more a matter of feeling safe, which was a characteristic of the atmosphere in that particular room, for me anyway. 

A large portion of the population have sleep problems, which can be addressed in a range of ways.  

While I often seem to be the exception to established norms, there is one that I have found helpful, which is that one sleeps better if slightly cool, rather than too warm.  When I first read this I raised my eyebrows, but have found it to be true.  Mind you, I have to get nice and toasty warm first!  

I have included a few links to information and discussion about sleep disorders for those who are interested in reading further:

Stuff news website:
Sleep Well Clinics (New Zealand), established by Dr Alex Bartle, who is quoted in the above article
National Sleep Foundation (American) website article:

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