Sleep With Me: Wednesday December 23, 2020

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Oh, good Wednesday, how are you doing? So some words on sleeping. I know a lot of you have had bouts of insomnia, particularly since March of 2020. I may have figured out the culprit of my incessant insomnia, a condition that’s plagued me for my whole life. I read  Matthew Walker’s, “Why We Sleep,” after hearing him talk about it on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. (So, yes, these things help with book sales!) In the book, he says, “Caffeine—which is not only prevalent in coffee, certain teas, and many energy drinks, but also in foods such as dark chocolate and ice cream as well as drugs such as weight-loss pills and pain relievers is one of the most common culprits that keep people from falling asleep easily and sleeping soundly thereafter, typically masquerading as insomnia, an actual medical condition.”

So. That’s what I’m doing wrong: I’m eating dark chocolate and drinking iced tea after six pm. Huh.

I gave up eating sugar (things like ice cream, decaf iced mocha with whipped cream from Starbucks, muffins, etc) and breads (although not pasta and pizza and also allowed myself the crispy parts of croissants) for a short while after my father died some years ago in an effort to get ahead of inherited health issues (diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure). My thinking: I can give up the things that make me happy if it means keeping diabetes at bay. The benefits of not-eating bagels with cream cheese and Entenmann’s dark chocolate frosted donuts is that I lost weight, naturally, without trying. Within two months, I’d dropped ten pounds. But also? I slept soundly. The increasing waves of migraines dissipated. And the weight loss.

But in these pandemic days? It’s been a cavalcade of eating cakes and brownies and croissants, and of course, dark chocolate.  What I’ve noticed is the return of the migraines, fast, furious, frequent; as if my brain space is punishing me for not looking after it, as I had been so diligently.  I’m tired so much of the time, sleeping under a mountain of worry. My diet has a direct effect on my mood, and my sleep cycle. So. I’m taking this passage from Matthew Walker’s book to heart; it’s time for me to give up the things that are a burden to my health. And I’m going to watch his Master Class.  It’s not a New Year’s resolution—that’s coming; this is a lifestyle approach. Wish me luck.


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