May 19, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 00:00
All my adult life, one pleasure has eluded me — it’s not what you think, this is a PG column — and that pleasure is a good night’s sleep.
I’m part of what the government calls a “public health epidemic,” along with 70 million Americans suffering from “insufficient sleep,” a condition that can lead to depression, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other ailments.
About 40% of adults suffer from insomnia from time to time, women twice as often as men. More than half of those over 65 have trouble sleeping, and even though they represent only 13% of the population, they consume 30% of prescription drugs and 40% of sleeping pills. At the same time, Medicare payments to test for sleep apnea went from $62 million in 2001 to $235 million in 2009.
A good night’s sleep is one of the secrets to longevity, and Baby Boomers are committed to the cause of becoming centenarians so we can collect our fair share of Social Security. Insomnia, however, is the curse of our generation, and sleep centers have sprung up across the nation. More people are popping pills to get a good night’s sleep, but they often find themselves haunted by the after-effects and struggling to get out of the bed in the morning.
I long for those halcyon boyhood days when I would put my head on the pillow and have sweet dreams of catching 16-inch rainbow trout, of meeting the love of my life, of getting a Schwinn racing bike — all in the same night. When I opened my eyes, a new day was dawning, and I was refreshed and reinvigorated. What happened to those happy times?
Now, even though I have no trouble falling asleep, I’m awake again after a few hours for who knows how long. My nights can be an hour-to-hour ordeal of tossing and turning, staring at the ceiling and waiting for the alarm. During that time, I worry about my job, retirement money, global warming and Mitt Romney’s tax return, not to mention the national debt. That’s a lot of worrying.
My parents had the same problem, and their solution was to keep the television on all night long, which helped them sleep soundly even though I was tormented by their snoring to the accompaniment of the National Anthem, back when TV programming ended at midnight.
My family recently got the crazy idea to buy me a space-age device that was invented by a Nobel Prize winner, or maybe it was a Golden Globe winner, guaranteed to help me sleep like a baby.
The gadget looks like an obese iPod and produces a repertoire of relaxing and soothing therapeutic sounds that include babbling brooks, pouring rain, gusting wind, crashing waves and hovering UFOs.
Last week I tried out the UFO sound, but woke up in the middle of the night, terrified I was being abducted by aliens. So I turned on the water sounds, which worked fine until I started having nightmares that the basement was flooding. Maybe I should try a recording of the National Anthem.
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