01 December 2009

Counting sheep

Sleep has been a topic of conversation around the office lately. My boss underwent a professional sleep analysis a week or so ago to determine if she has sleep apnea, and if so, what she might need to do about it. So just before getting started with a meeting last week, those gathered around the conference table listened to her story and entered into the discussion about sleep. Seems that everyone had some sort of sleep aberration, either not getting restful sleep, falling asleep too quickly, or breathing (polite way of saying snoring) problems.

I think I could check off a few of those from the list. Through the years I’ve had all sorts of cycles that seemed to interfere with restful sleep. I just read an essay by an inspired blogger over at
f8hasit regarding sleep deprivation and it reminded me of a time when I found it very difficult to fall asleep. Seems that I could just not stop thinking, planning, worrying, listing.

Back in those days, I had been to some exercise and yoga classes that ended with a few minutes of facilitated relaxation. It was nice. It went something like this:

Imagine yourself lying on a tropical, warm beach.
The tide softly washes up to your ankles and you feel your feet and ankles relax.
The tide continues to wash up to your legs, torso, arms, etc….bringing relaxation to your entire body.

So when I was having insomnia problems, I decided to try this out for myself. It went something like this:

Imagine yourself lying on a tropical warm beach.
The tide softly washes up to your ankles and you feel your feet and ankles relax.
The tide washes up to your legs, torso, arms. Soon you are floating, weightless in the warm water, fully relaxed.
Beneath the surface of the water there are dozens of sharks, jellyfish and scratchy seaweed. Yikes! Get out of there!

OK, so I figured out how to sabotage my own relaxation process. Typical. I'll probably not going to try that method again. Back to counting sheep.


  1. Ha! Inspired blogger? Me?

    I was at this science center where they placed electrodes on two people facing each other across a table. In the center of the table was a ball. The ball would move towards the person that was the LEAST relaxed...the idea was that the more relaxed you were, your mind would then move the ball. You could look at a visual graph charting the mind waves.

    As we waited in line to participate there were a couple of twins that it was a match for a long time, then it slowly started to move one way then the other. Finally it was our turn, and as I sat down all I kept thinking about is, "RELAX" which obviously ISN'T relaxing. I lost. Quickly.

    Just goes to show you how my brain just doesn't shut down!

  2. why do people choose to count sheep? why not count ants, or cows, or fish? why sheep? in my head, I see goats... go figure...

  3. sheep are so gentle and restful. that is my hypothesis, anyway.

  4. I have my troubles here and there. One thing that used to be extremely annoying was that once I'd fall asleep, right when I was in the middle of an intense dream, the dream would go bad and wake me up suddenly. I'd wake up feeling anxious and nervous and then it would take me FOREVER to fall back asleep. But...I figured out why/when it happens! Well accidentally I figured it out. As a new year's resolution last year I decided to stop drinking coke. I went cold turkey for a month so that I wouldn't crave it. Now I just have it sometimes but not all day long like I used to. Well once I had stopped during that first month I realized that weird dream thing wasn't happening anymore. I know. You're thinking...duh!!! Caffeine! The thing is the typical thing you associate caffeine with is it keeping you from sleeping. Well it wasn't a problem to fall asleep, it was more the staying asleep and the violent way in which I'd wake up that was my problem. Makes perfect sense now. So, I try my darndest now to only drink coke occasionally and not too late in the day/night. Even iced tea has the same effect.
    I can so relate though. Sometimes when my brain is "on", there is no turning it off. On days I know I'm going to have a hard time falling asleep though, I glass of red wine a little before I go to bed helps a lot!

  5. Oh wow! I just remembered a poem I wrote a while back! THANK YOU!