Columns

Sleep like a baby, a nervous baby 2015.08.26

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I was in Miami for a few days last week helping out with my wonderfully sweet grandsons. I’ve been a grandmother for nearly four and a half years now and I still haven’t learned that I need to get on Grandkid Time when I am in their presence instead of keeping my usual Crazy Time. To say that I am a night owl isn’t quite accurate. To call this column Midnight Musings doesn’t even begin to capture the time of night when I do my most thoughtful thinking. 

On the third night of my visit, I was at the computer, preparing for the library board meeting through the wonder of Google Drive which allows me to update the meeting agenda at midnight in the comfort of my son’s home in Miami. At 12:15 a.m. I told myself I really needed to stop working and go to bed by 12:30 a.m. At 1 a.m. I said, “OK, you must stop by 1:30 a.m.” and at 2 a.m. I had the same conversation with myself which I was still having at 3 a.m. I kept telling myself, “Oy, you really have to go to sleep now,” but I kept doing one more thing. 

One of those things was posting announcements on Facebook for the library…another modern day wonder which allows me to set the time the post will appear in your newsfeed. Did you see the one about the Step Up for Stair District Library party to celebrate the passage of the millage? 

The Celebration of Success party is at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Thursday, in the library annex (also known as the Liz Stella Annex, but she gets embarrassed when people call it that. Liz was the force behind the “new”…now 18-year-old…library and she was the force behind the millage committee. Heck, let’s call it a “Celebrate Liz” party, because even though many, many people are responsible for the millage passing, Liz guided it through and kept it on track.) It’s a dessert reception and there will be lots of wonderful treats for everyone, created by members of the committee.

And then there was the post about the book sale, which was moved up and shortened to a two-day sale (Tuesday and Wednesday) to allow for the party, so if you didn’t buy some fabulous books yesterday, you have until 5 p.m. today…or, seriously? I think Cecil will take your money if you see something you want while perusing the leftover books…while you’re at the Celebration of Success party on Thursday.

So, back to Miami and Facebook…you know how it goes when you’re on Facebook doing one thing and pretty soon you’re reading a bunch of other stuff you had no intention of getting sucked into? That happened to me after I took care of the library posts. 

It was an article by Stuart Heritage about sleep, in the British newspaper, “The Guardian,” that I stumbled upon…which made me so anxious I just wanted to hurry up and get to bed and not even brush my teeth—which I had to do, of course, because bleech! It’s like not washing your hands after going to the bathroom…How can people do that? 

I have written before about the bad side effects of lack of sleep, but this article was so much more alarming—even though it was presented in a very light-hearted manner—because it was directed specifically at those in the 40 to 60 year old age group, my age group. 

In England the government is targeting that segment of the population in a health campaign. It encompasses more than sleep, but Heritage focusses on that and notes: “according to the British Sleep Council, if you don’t sleep for at least six hours a night, you’re 12% more likely to die young. Lack of sleep can trigger a range of health problems. It can give you heart disease. It can give you diabetes. It can make you obese. It can ruin your concentration, your memory and your youthful good looks in one fell swoop.”

Heritage quotes Public Health England’s description of its campaign, “Only around 20% to 30% of what we think of as ‘ageing’ is biological; the rest is ‘decay’ or ‘deterioration’, which can be actively managed or prevented.” 

And the author concludes, “Essentially, if you’re aged between 40 and 60 and you don’t get enough sleep, you’re rotting your own body.” 

That’s a nice thought to ponder while trying to fall asleep at 3 a.m.