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Sleepless in the Driftless
Drift from a Driftless Place
JOHN GIBBS finished up his western adventures at a Farm-n-Fleet in Las Vegas, browsing the hat section. He'd been on the lookout for a good cowboy hat, and no surprise, he found his dream chapeau in the Wild, Wild West.

GAYS MILLS - I’ve been beset with a spell of sleeplessness here of late. Anybody else out there have that problem? It’s frustrating to say the least. Every list you see about leading a healthy lifestyle mentions the importance of a good night’s sleep, and that’s hard to argue with. Sleep is when we recharge our batteries for the day ahead. It helps us get over things, clears our minds and gives us a fresh outlook.

Hey, this is winter, a time when a minor form of hibernation kicks in. It’s so comforting to be bedded down under a down comforter as a storm or a cold windy night occurs. And if you’ve been out in the elements during the day, the bed is even more welcoming and restorative. And we are blessed with living in a quiet, peaceful area here where sleeping should be a snap. But, still, sleep eludes us sometimes and hopefully it is not a long-term problem.

There are several tips to help you get a good night’s sleep. One is to be active or work hard enough during the day to make sleep come easier. There are nights when I have been exhausted and yet still couldn’t doze off. Those are the worst. I don’t have the energy to or interest in getting up to do anything, and wind up, literally, tossing and turning.

Drinking coffee or other caffeine drinks late in the day is a no-no for problem sleepers. Watching stimulating television shows, wandering around the internet, or playing exciting video games close to bedtime are also frowned upon by sleep experts. I am prone to napping, although my naps are often done in the seated position in my reading recliner.  Anything more than a brief catnap can take the edge off of the ability to fall asleep for the night.

Sometimes, I can’t shut my mind off, thinking of problems, projects, and plans for the day ahead. Making a list of things to do the next day helps with this problem: writing things down compartmentalizes them and can put the mind at ease. 

Not getting to sleep is one form of insomnia. Waking up in the early hours, seemingly refreshed and rarin’ to go is another. If I’m awake long enough mid-night, I get up and read (or write a column like this one) and give sleep another try after an hour or so. I call this sleeping on the installment plan.

I understand that a lot of folks rely on prescription sleeping pills to get a good night’s sleep. There are many choices down that path, a path I would rather not take. I’ve found that a late evening glass of wine or beer helps sometimes. I’ve also discovered a little over-the-counter pill that contains melatonin comes in handy. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that aids in sleeping. A pill containing melatonin boosts the supply we already have.

Wishing you all a great night’s sleep, every night.