VERNON COUNTY - How far would you go to ensure you got a full eight hours of sleep every night? Would you give up sugary treats for a year? Vow to never say another negative word about politicians? Cut off your right arm?
For much of my life, an uninterrupted night’s sleep has eluded me. My tendency is to finally fall into a deep sleep at about the time I should be waking up. While my body settles down for bed quite nicely, my mind chooses that time to shift into high gear. I assume this has to do with my brain downloading all the information from my day. It takes a while. Once they both equalize I sleep soundly, if all the stars are lined up right.
Unfortunately for me, this tends to happen closer to getting-up time then going-to-sleep time. It also seems to correspond to when my bladder demands to be emptied. I sit up to heed the call—and panic starts to rise. I’m blind. I’ve gone blind! I forget that I now go to bed sporting an original Alaska BearTM, a silk mask that makes me look like the Lone Ranger’s kid brother.
Years ago, I did some research and learned that shutting out any kind of light was helpful for getting a good night’s sleep. It made sense, and I do have a skylight directly over my bed. It’s wonderful for stargazing when I can’t sleep, but not so great when there’s a full moon and the light keeps me awake.
For the longest time, I tried covering my eyes at night with a thick aqua terrycloth headband that some not-so-genius person designed with a knot in the middle. He (no female would have added that knot) most likely thought the knot made it look like a designer headband. It didn’t. It looked like a knot in a headband in the center of my forehead.
In fairness, that headband was designed to wear in the bathtub, where I used it regularly for my bathtub meditations (aka “tubbies”). Using the tubby band as a sleep aid caused me to wake up looking like Kramer in Seinfeld. My hair would be standing straight up and catawampus all at the same time. Even worse, I’d have to go to work with a red, angry-looking imprint of a knot on my forehead.
Alaska Bear to the rescue! My bear was a gift, but I bet you’ll want to order a few by the time you finish reading this. It’s not that I’m trying to make a believer out of you or that I've taken out stock in the company. It’s more like I have this crazy urge to shout from my bed-top, “Sleep is not overrated. Buy a genuine Alaska mask and sleep the sleep of a hibernating bear!” The bear is comfortable to wear and shuts out all the light, allowing me to sleep better than I have before. Best yet, I no longer wake up looking like I wrestled with a bear all night long.
FYI, they cost ten bucks. Ten dollars for a peaceful, easy sleep. Way worth double the price—but we won’t tell the company that, will we?
We all know the importance of sleep. I mean, we’re lying there tossing and turning and the facts play over and over in our heads: lack of sleep has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, and stroke. Scary stuff—enough to make a person lie awake at night!
I have a few tricks up my sleeve when sleep escapes me. Games help. Start with the letter A and go through the alphabet naming bird types that begin with each letter. If you’re lucky you’ll be snoozing soundly when you get to the letter U. Or do the same thing with cities that can be found in Wisconsin. Good luck with the letter X!
I don’t know about you, but when I wake up from a sound eight hours of undisturbed sleep, I’m elated. I start my morning happy dance, a combination of doing the wave with my arms and hopscotching in place with my feet. However, the hopscotch thingy may have more to do with needing to relieve my bladder.
The Alaska Bear mask has been a true gift. No more messed up hair, no tossing and turning, no marks tattooed on my forehead, and no more morning crabbiness.
Life is sweet with my new Alaska Bear. Now if I could only find the perfect ear plugs.
(Disclaimer: I do not, nor have I ever. worked directly or even indirectly for the Alaska Bear Company. Nor do any of my friends or family, that I’m aware of. I will, however, send this essay to them!)