Monday, January 9, 2017

Perchance to Dream

RHYS BOWEN:Unless you are like Lucy in Key West, the rest of us are suffering from a large dose of winter! Here in California it is raining and raining and blowing. It's dark and gloomy and all I'd like to do is crawl into bed and hibernate until spring!

However,one of the annoyances of my life these days is that I have trouble sleeping. I find I have a really narrow window of opportunity to fall asleep and it's right around ten o'clock. If I don't take advantage of it and fall asleep then, if I dare to stay awake to watch the rest of a show on TV, then I am still staring at the clock at 2 a:m.

And when I'm on deadline, when I'm stressed, when I'm about to take a trip I can fall asleep only to wake up in the middle of the night muttering to myself "Wait. She would never have said that!" and there I am, re-writing the chapter in my head. Or I wake having had a nightmare in which the flight is due to leave and I haven't packed my clothes or I don't know where the airport is. And then there I am, staring at the ceiling until it's dawn. I've tried hot milk, melatonin, lavender, and various other natural remedies and nothing works. Ambien works fine but I keep that for when I have crossed time zones and really need a good night's sleep. Advil PM works too, but I'm against taking any drug too frequently.

So is this something you suffer from, darling Reds? And do you have any solutions that work for you and might work for me? Please share.

HALLIE EPHRON: I love to sleep, and it's the opposite for me. If I got to sleep too early, I'm up at 2 or 3 or 4 and it takes hours to fall back to sleep, and yes I'm herding all the anxieties of the day in my head. Packing dreams? Oh boy do I have them.

I'm afraid of sleeping pills. I know too many people who are hooked on them and they make it hard to wake up.

I try not not to drink too much wine at dinner. Two glasses and I fall right to sleep and wake up two hours later. My friend Pat puts on a headset and listens to audio (never music, never a page turner), something marginally engaging but somewhat boring. I do counting things... like trying to remember all the kids in my elementary school. Or all my teachers. Or I wander around my high school in my head -- down corridors, up and down staircases, in and out exits.

RHYS: That would be a nightmare for me, Hallie. I'd be terrified I'd bump into my headmistress. Boy, was she scary and I once knocked her downstairs (not on purpose, of course)

LUCY BURDETTE: I am not a good sleeper, though I was a champion in my youth. I need to try to get to bed reading by 9, and then lights out by 10 or I suffer. I'm rarely able to nap, and I can't sleep in cars or on planes. It doesn't help to have John and Tonka snoring on either side of me (John's in bed, Tonka is not), but they are my beloved peeps so I can't change that. And the cat is an early bird and quite insistent about the rest of us getting up when he wants breakfast!

As for dreams, both John and I have what we call "sh*t" dreams. What can I say? Poop everywhere--ridiculous! And like Rhys, if I'm getting close to the end of a book, ideas start coming in the night. If I don't get up and write them down, they are gone in the am. Maybe it was only gibberish, but it feels like an awful loss...

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I don't sleep well, either. I have had restless movement syndrome since I was a kid--I've had all the clinical sleep trials, etc. (Talk about NOT fun.) So for me medication has been a godsend. I take a very low dose (comparatively) of a drug that is given to Parkinson's sufferers, and I do take Ambien sometimes but try to reserve that for really bad nights or across time zone travel. Still, I have a window (mine is about midnight) and if I don't go to sleep then, I am miserably awake until the wee hours. And it's so frustrating when you get those book ideas just when you're drifting off, and you know you have to write them down, but you also know that if you do then you're probably not going to sleep for a couple of hours!

Lucy, poop dreams! That cracks me up!

INGRID THOFT: Oh, sleep, how I love you.  I tend to be a good sleeper.  Some might argue I'm too good at it; in an ideal world, I could sleep nine or ten hours a night!  I tend to go to bed around the same time every night, but do allow myself to sleep in on weekends.  I always hear that elderly people sleep much less.  That should put me around the seven hour mark--a normal amount of sleep for most people--when I'm old and gray.  We always have on a sound soother that plays gentle ocean sounds.  It helps to soften noise from the sirens and trucks in our downtown setting.

I do sleep poorly on occasion, but never for more than a few nights.  I can relate to Hallie's packing dreams.  I have those in spades with all kinds of nifty variations.  It's almost like a writing prompt: You have a small suitcase, a room full of stuff, and the clock is ticking.  What happens next?

HALLIE: And where are the children?! That's always the question in mine.

JENN: Ah, sleep. It's lovely, although I only clock in about five or six hours per night. That seems to be all I need and I can't make myself sleep any longer. I go to bed about midnight, and it's like hitting a light switch. Snap. I am out. I don't dream, well, maybe once a year and then it's a weird recurring dream where I'm ironing an outfit for my first day of work at the library and I'm freaking out because I'm already late, yet I can't stop ironing. I don't wear clothes that require ironing, generally speaking. So, weird, right? I'm also a very deep sleeper. The only thing that wakes me is a sniffle or a cough from my sons' rooms. Otherwise, thunderstorms can roll, neighbors can have loud parties, etc. I sleep through all of it. Okay, right now, I'm a little tired. Oh, and I do take the occasional power nap. Fifteen minutes of being completely out and I'm good to go!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I get in bed, and wham: Asleep. I love to sleep. LOVE. I dream all the time, very elaborate colorful and  complicated, and sometimes blazingly hit you over the head obvious with their not-so-hidden meaning. Like:  had a dream where I was shown my new "house." At the entrance, I was so disappointed, it was not--pretty. But as I went deeper and deeper into the house, it got more and more wonderful, until the last rooms which were fantastic. I said to the person (Who?) "Oh, this is much better. This should be the first room you see."  And the person (who? no idea) said "No--you have to go on the journey to get to the good part."
 But as for sleep inducers--if I ever have trouble drifting off, I try to think about being somewhere. LIke on an island, watching the birds fly over. Just watching the birds, then another one, then another one. Just...flying. OR I have an imaginary conversation with someone. If I say this, what will she say? And then what will I say? (Maybe that's SO boring that I just fall asleep.  :-) )  Or-- try thinking about--floating. Just floating.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I had a lot of trouble sleeping when I was going through menopause, but now I'm post-, I do pretty well. My problems are mostly environmental - Ross snores AND has restless leg syndrome (Debs, he's finally seeing a doctor about it! I'm hoping medication will help him, too.) The dog snores - lightly - and we have a drip in the bathroom faucet that we haven't gotten fixed (because it will involve tearing out the whole WWII era plumbing.)

So I lie in bed at night listening to the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore: SNORT! snore Twitch drip SNORT! snore Twitch drip..

RHYS: How about the rest of you? Do you find it hard to sleep? Any suggestions for someone like me who was woken by the storm at four this morning and could never get back to sleep?


  1. Oh, Rhys, I was listening to the news tonight and they were talking about all the flooding from the rain and the melting snow . . . I hope you're safe from the floods they are predicting . . . here far too many inches of white stuff keep me housebound [and happily reading my book] . . . .

    For me, sleep generally tends to be extremely elusive; sometimes it’s difficult to turn off the thoughts that insist on tumbling around in my mind even though I never go to bed until I think I am actually tired enough to sleep. Some nights that works, other nights I end up getting up again because I simply can’t fall sleep and, because of the fibromyalgia, I can never just stay in bed waiting to fall asleep.
    I am not a fan of taking any sort of pills, so that’s not an option for me . . . the other night I heard a news report that music was the answer to sleeplessness, that soft music would put anyone to sleep in eight minutes, so I just might have to give that a try.
    Once I get to sleep, I know I dream, but I almost never remember those dreams when I wake up . . . .

  2. It's awful not being able to sleep well. I live (and sleep) with someone who falls asleep instantly, but later snores and doesn't breathe. I swear by silicone earplugs, and they're very helpful for traveling and sleeping in strange places, too. I get that window effect if I stay up too late, too. cannot fall asleep. These days I mostly keep my own schedule, but if I actually grab eight hours of sleep eventually and wake up, like today, at 6:30, it disrupts my morning! I'm not ready to work at seven and that bothers me. Sorry, nothing to help you with, Rhys. I count backwards from a thousand when I can't sleep, and rarely get to even seven hundred.

    Dreams. I actually dreamed of Julia last night. I was selling at a book fair and she had a new short haircut, was considerably thinner, and was selling a book on touring Buffalo, NY - not a mystery novel in sight (sorry, Julia. I must really be jonesing for SOMETHING new from you!). Where in the world do these things come from? Just a few days ago Hank visited my dream, too. Went back in my notebook where I jotted down, "Hank - shoes - t-shirt -dresser -kids - Africa - baby?" Which jogged my memory. These West African kids and I were selling tiny painted dressers and t-shirts, I think - or maybe it was my sons but they were small again and we were selling to benefit African kids? Anyway, Hank blew through and we knew she'd help us. Go figure...

    NOW I have to get to work!

  3. Sorry to hear that many of you have trouble sleeping.

    I am like Hank...If I am home, I get into bed, and I usually fall asleep instantly.
    I think one influencing factor now is that I am getting enough exercise each day (my long walks/hikes and now snowshoeing) to relieve stress and release good endorphins. Although I actually slept pretty well when I was working a desk job.

    But I understand that window effect. If I stay up way too late (like midnight or after 1:00 am), then I either have trouble falling asleep or I will still wake up before 5:00 am feeling sleep deprived. And I am not able to take naps during the day...never could as a kid, and not now. And I usually can sleep well in strange places (hotels)...the key is wearing earplugs and a sleep mask.

    Dreams, yes I have vivid dreams, usually in colour. My parents told me I was weird since they only dreamed in black-&-white. Is that a generational thing? and when I am stressed, I tend to have traveling mishap dreams such as rushing to get to an airport to catch a flight.

  4. Within 15 minutes after my head hits the pillow, I'm asleep and I sleep the sleep not hearing anything that happens outside. When I was younger, I only needed 4 hours of sleep, now I need anywhere between 5 and 6 hours. And no matter what, I'll wake up at 4:30 and I'm fully awake. I do have dreams, but I don't remember them unless I get one of those déjà vu moments.

  5. I love it when I can remember my dream... but it only happens when I wake up from it. My new novel is about a dream researcher so I've learned tons of useless trivia about sleep. My favorite thing is directed dreaming... where you're just awake enough during a dream to make things happen. Some people can do it. Occasionally I can.

  6. Wow--sorry to hear that so many of you Reds have sleep problems. I can definitely relate. No meds for me, though, weird effects. Can't sleep with anything in my ears or on my face. I, too, have a window of opportunity--and if I miss that, I can pretty much count on a sleepless-toss and turn kind of night. I'm also an extremely light sleeper--so if I'm awakened by anything, usually cannot get back to sleep. What I hate the most, though, is starting to fall asleep only to have part of my brain perk up and say, 'look, I'm almost asleep'--weird, I know, but then I'm instantly awake again.

    I have several mantras that I repeat (prayers, Buddhist sayings, and images that I try to lose myself in---serene settings)--until I relax into sleep, and like Grace, I find that steady, daily exercise helps.

  7. Hallie: A new book with a dream researcher sounds cool! Looking forward to reading it. And as for directed dreaming...yes, I can do it occasionally, too. It's neat when you can make your subconscious/dream state help you to resolve/process an issue that's bugging you!

  8. Joan, thank you. We are up on a hill and fine although the wind blew down a big trellis

  9. Ann in Rochester, another nasty womanJanuary 9, 2017 at 9:05 AM

    It is my observation that the older people get, the more sleep issues they have. Some of us have a whole subscription. When I was young, with small children, a job, often financial issues, all sorts of problems, I could sleep anytime I could snatch a few winks.

    My sleep issues came with retirement. Finally I could sleep when I wanted, get up when I wanted, and BAZINGA!, insomnia. I tried everything, and Ambien, very low dose, is what works for me. I rarely to never nap, but I go to bed at the same time every night, get up at the same time every morning, and never need an alarm, not even when I have a flight to catch. I do most of my reading in bed, 2-3 hours every single night. I keeps me sane, more or less anyway.

    My dream life is rich and varied. If I wake during a dream, have to go to the bathroom or the guy who plows the driveway shows up at 4 a.m., I can think myself right back into the dream. I love reliving dreams in the mornings, working out what lesson I should learn. So, Hallie,I look forward to the book about the dream researcher. What have you learned about your own dreams while writing this?

    My favorite is what I call the Narnia dream. I open a door in my house and discover all these new rooms, filled with wonder, often with things I need in my waking life. I remember once when the laundry equipment was on its last leg, I found I had an attic full of brand new washers and dryers, not a hard dream to interpret.

    "To sleep, perchance to dream—aye, there’s the rub,
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause." Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

  10. I have such vivid dreams that I sometimes don't remember they are dreams and think they really happened. I've thought I had conversations with my husband and don't understand why he's acting like he never heard any of it!
    My husband could sleep standing up in a corner! And he snores. I used earplugs for years and then decided I'd go back to bumping him or pulling on the covers to quiet him.
    I can't imagine going to sleep in minutes. It's regularly an hour or more. Or it seems like it. I often wonder if I'm actually awake the whole time or drifting in and out with enough awakeness to glance at the clock.

  11. Edith - I like the idea of a new, short haircut and the weight loss, but a book on touring in Buffalo?!? Even for an upstate New Yorker like myself, that's a bridge too far.

  12. Daylight would wake me up early in the summer and I couldn't get back to sleep. My husband suggested a sleep mask and that really helps.

  13. Sorry so many of you have trouble falling asleep. I went through a period of insomnia, but melatonin helped and I'm past it now.

    I rarely have trouble falling asleep UNLESS the hubby is snoring. He says he doesn't snore. I beg to differ. I swear I'm going to record him some night (but that would involve getting out of bed to get my phone). He likes to watch TV late on the weekends and I'll be dozing beside him. Then he gets irritated. Oh well.

    Once asleep I can generally sleep through anything. I slept through a fire alarm in college. Of course, this was different when my kids were babies. The slightest twitch would wake me up.

    Julia, there's no problem with book touring in Buffalo. Just go in the summer. :)

  14. I've heard of sleep, and I intend to try it sometime.

    Seriously, my parents had me on phenobarbital when I was five (it was chartreuse and tasted terrible). My father finally poured it down the sink.

    I get about four or five hours a night and that's all I need. I hate to sleep at night, prefer to write, love to nap during the day (alas, I have a day job) and love to dream - big, bold, wonderful dreams that I often remember at least parts of. Once I'm up, I'm up and there's no hope for it. If I manage to fall back to sleep, I'm droopy for the rest of the day. I find one day a month or so I'll log a solid sixteen hours and it seems to reset me for the upcoming month. Go figure.

    Rumor has it when I left the hospital nursery the nurses held a party because I kept the entire place awake all night. I didn't cry, I gurgled loudly, getting responses from the other kids. I maintain I was telling bedtime stories. They maintained I was being decide.

  15. This will sound nutty, but those of you who are having sleep troubles due to restless legs or leg pain, need to go put a bar of soap in your bed ASAP.

    Bear with me. Any bar will do, grab your Ivory, Dove, or Dial and slip it between your fitted sheet and mattress pad down near your feet. I'm telling you, it works!! No one knows the reasons why (something about isotopes?) and it sounds completely kooky, but I know a handful of people who have gotten relief. At the worst, your sheets will smell especially clean. Your bed will have a little bump in it when made, but that's a small price to pay for a better night's sleep!

  16. Some nights, I sleep like a champ, some nights (like last night), I have trouble falling asleep even though I'm tired and I wake up a few hours later, long before my alarm goes off. I don't know what the difference is.

    I have found that if I can't get to sleep, reading works wonders for me. I'm a rare person who goes to sleep while reading, I know, but I can fall asleep reading anything. Annoying during the day when I want to gets lots read, but nice when it is 1 AM and I still can't sleep. I either get a lot read or I am out within a few pages, and it's usually the later.

  17. Some people recommend Hyland Calms Forte, if you haven't tried it. It's homeopathic, so no side effects.

  18. I've always been a good sleeper, thank goodness -- so sound I often don't hear the alarm, so if I really, really have to get up, like for a flight, I set the alarm on my phone. It's just weird enough that it wakes me!

    Years ago, I participated in a dream group led by a therapist, and I learned so much. Love my Dream Voice, though I find she's quieter when I'm actively writing a first draft -- I suspect the dreams and the story come from the same part of the brain, and it doesn't feel the need to talk to me by both day and night!

    For those who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome, do try acupuncture, and ask your acupuncturist to show you the acupressure points to do it on yourself. (I can't really describe it in writing, so ask me for a demo at the next con!)

  19. Since childhood I've had chronic insomnia. In fact, I call myself a professional insomniac. I've tried everything: homeopathics, melatonin, magnesium (which actually does help with restless legs, for those of you who suffer from it), calcium chews, lavender spray/potpourri/lotion/younameit, valerian, chamomile, Ambien, and another sleep med beginning with the letter T, but not Terazadone.

    Acupuncture helped some. Having a cool bedroom with warm covers helps. (I absolutely cannot sleep if I'm cold. I am really lucky to live in this century, with central heating and down comforters.) Getting the mold out of our basement helped a lot, but I still have issues some nights.

    Alcohol has the opposite effect on me: it keeps me awake. And I'm completely unable to sleep until four or five in the morning if I have coffee of any kind after 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Please do not tell me you're serving decaf if you're not. I will curse you from my bed at 3 AM. Exercise, by the way, has no effect on my sleeping ability.

    One thing I found that does help, a certain kind of music. At a Marriott about 11 years ago I was given a "sleep kit" at check-in, containing earplugs, a mask, some lavender spray, and a CD called "Sleep Solutions". It was put together by a doctor named Michael Breus, and if I listen to it at night I can usually drop off fairly quickly.

    Three problems with this: It bothers my husband, he says. I wore out the first CD and also the CD alarm clock I was using. Sometimes I'm not even at home.

    Solution: Download the Sleep Solutions music to my phone. I can't fall asleep with earplugs, so my husband is still a problem to solve. Har. But this music really helps, if I have a chance to use it. It starts with a set of relaxation exercises, which I usually skip and just go to the music. Your mileage may vary. Here's a link, although I downloaded mine from Google Play Store.

  20. In my defense I have to say I've tried the soap bar, acupuncture, homeopathy, vitamins, nutrients, massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, and every type of sleep hygiene routine, and nothing ever helped. I think maybe there is a genetic component to restless leg syndrome, as my dad suffered with it terribly. Julia, I hope Ross gets some relief, and that it carries over to you!

    For you chronic insomniacs, I read recently that audio books have become the rage. People use (or make) some sort of noise-blocking headphones, then settle down with a long and wordy book. I'd go for one of the Victorians, I think--Henry James, or Thackery. The idea is that you don't TRY to go to sleep, and if you just drift in and out of the story all night, that's okay, too. It's better than staring at the ceiling.

    This might also do the trick for shutting out snoring partners...

    My solution to the snoring husband is the chaise right across the hall in my office:-)

  21. Deb, sorry to hear that none of the suggested remedies have done the trick. Does Wren sleep well? If not, perhaps you two could become roomies!

  22. Ha, Ingrid. Wren sleeps TWELVE hours. 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. I didn't think babies could really do that. The downside is that she's not napping much, and that while her sleeping in the evening is very nice for her parents, it cuts down on MY baby socializing time:-)

  23. I swear sometimes I think this blog reads my mind and comes up with a topic I'm thinking about. I dream a lot, and I remember a good deal of my dreams. Well, last night I dreamed that I (a younger I) kissed Keanu Reeves, not once but several times, and on the lips, and it was nice. I even remember all the convoluted trappings going on around it. It was a party of some sort, and there was another woman, young girl, who wanted to hook up with Keanu, and she had made some sort of elaborate scrapbook for him, with a painting in it. Well, to heck with her. Keanu was in his kitchen (it was apparently his pad), and I just tiptoed up to his face and planted a kiss on his mouth. No fancy scrapbook needed. Oh, and apparently Keanu and I already knew each other. Of course. But, then the dream segued off into that annoying problem I have in so any dreams. Finding a working toilet in which to pee. Yes, Lucy, I have pee dreams.

    So, now that I've gotten to tell someone about my Keanu kisses, I'll address the sleep question. Since my husband works from Leavenworth, KS (well, Honolulu this week) and I live alone, I don't have to worry about anyone's schedule but my own. Since I no longer work, it's especially nice. I'm a night owl, and sometimes an extreme one. I usually stay up until 2 or 3 a.m. With Dru being an hour ahead, I have often caught her on FB getting up as I'm going to bed. I have been know to stay up reading to finish a book until 4 and once or twice until 5, but I sleep late, until 10 or 11, and I have slept in until noon if it was a 4 or 5 a.m. bedtime. And, I mostly read during those late hours, with perhaps the final FB check-in right before I lay my head down. I usually don't have trouble falling to sleep, unless I'm traveling the next day and know that I have to get my sleep. Then, anxiety can mess with my falling asleep.

    There are certain issues with which I have to deal that can change my sleep or interfere with it. When my husband is home, he snores. He has sleep apnea and has a mask to wear, but he sometimes doesn't put it on when he's home. I think I've about got him trained to wear it here now. This past week, I've been keeping my daughter's pug while they were on vacation in the Everglades, so my bedtime has been a bit earlier to accommodate little Lucy. I don't want to get her too out of whack from her normal schedule of getting up early and going to bed early, although the earliest we've gone to bed was midnight. She is pretty easy though, not getting me up but once earlier than I wanted to get up. When I had my Abbie dog (gone two years now), I did have to get up early to take her out, but I often went back to bed.

    But, I really don't have problems going to sleep and staying to sleep, even though I can be a light sleeper, or what I like to refer to as a vigilant sleeper. Someone has to be able to fend off invaders, and my husband, when he is home, sleeps the sleep of the dead when he is fully asleep. He does have many sleep issues though. First, the sleep apnea. Then, he needs a sleep aid, Ambien, to get to sleep. He takes it five nights and skips two, according to his doctor's advice. On those two nights, he might take a Benadryl to help. He was also worried about taking sleep medication on a regular basis, but his doctor told him that not getting sleep was worse for him than being a regular user of Ambien. For some reason though, I'm wary of taking sleep aids. I think it's a control issue for me, not liking to lose control to anything. I know that Benadryl will knock me right out, but I won't take it because I feel too vulnerable to it.

    Since I've already discussed my dreams some, I will save those for another time, and I will simply say that bathrooms (Lucy), finding the children (Hallie), school, cell phone inability, and extended hotel stays all show up regularly.

  24. Debs, I do use long, wordy books to make myself drowsy. I remember The Silent Spring and the White Nile were most effective. Usually non-fiction, often travel related. One page and I can close my eyes--unless I have that worry tape turned on in my head and it plays over and over. What if she's driving home in the storm? What if John's scan shows awful things? And nothing will shut it off. Or the same tune playing over and over. Earworms?

    And Kathy, I too am a vigilant sleeper. It comes from hearing my children crying at night, waking up from bad dreams. I still hear john every time he goes to the bathroom (frequently!) And he also wears a sleep apnea thingie. Not fun when it slips and I hear whoosh, whoosh.


  25. Mark - I sleep while reading, too - good books, bad books, it doesn't matter. If I'm tired reading will knock me out. I also sleep on planes, trains, in cars - something about the droning motor...Zzzzzzzz.

  26. So sorry to be so out of touch today… More to come about where I was, all good. Family thing.

    Libby Dodd! I'm so glad to hear this, I have been a little bit worried that in the past year or so there are dreams that are so intense that I can't remember, when I am into the next day, whether it was something that really happened or happened in the dream.

  27. And during a dream, I often tell myself wait, this is just a dream! And then I can make something happen or undo.

  28. Hank, I have dreams like that too! I never heard of anyone else that did. Often they are predictive and I'll be in the middle of doing something I recognize from the dream. And I can always tell when it is a dream that I can manipulate, too. There's a crossroads for want of a better word. You too? And if I wake dissatisfied, and go back to sleep, I can drop right back into place and "fix" the dream.

  29. Yes, Kait, absolutely! SO reassured…hm. ANd fascinating, huh? Crossroads. I'll remember that.

  30. I've had sleep problems since I was in high school, which was a really long time ago. Typically I'll wake up around 4 am with a bad case of "brain race," where my mind zips from one issue or anxiety to another and Will. Not. Stop. The first thing I ever remember doing to combat it was to get stern with myself. Sometime when I was in college, and woke up obsessing about whatever show I was working on at the time, I told myself, "Either get up, right now, drive all the way in to school, and get to work on it, or SHUT UP!" I learned to shut up. Some of the time. In the years since I've tried a variety of things, from a softly murmuring radio (on BBC America, so there are plummy voices and cricket scores and other things I have to really strain to understand) to reading, to games on my iPad. They may derail the brain race, but they don't put me back to sleep very reliably. Two things do seem to work though. I put on another throw, or turn up the furnace, or do something else to make myself just a tiny bit warmer, and I tell myself a story. It's not usually a story I would ever write--just a situation between two characters. But I have to keep the dialogue on track, and I can't let myself get distracted by all the other stuff bouncing around in my brain. Between those two things, I can usually get back to sleep just in time to oversleep when it's time to wake up.

    The upside to all the insomnia, though, is that I can fall asleep just about anywhere if I'm tired enough. I'm a champion napper, and I have been known to fall asleep on lawn furniture in department stores, on theatre floors in the middle of rehearsal, and all sorts of other unlikely places--even sitting up at my desk at work.

    I also dream a lot. I used to have one recurring dream in which I would go backstage before a play to congratulate my friends in the cast, when the director would snag me and say, "Why aren't you in costume?" I'd have no recollection of even being in the play, no idea who my character was or what any of my lines might be, but I'd have to suit up and go on like I knew what I was doing. This dream was a fairly regular feature for me until one night, just before a show where I was the assistant director, the dream came true. One of the women in the cast was sick, and the director wanted me to be the stand-in, mostly because I fit into her costume. Hey, no biggie, right? Just a bit of Shakespeare. So out I went, not really knowing her blocking or her lines, and with the help of the rest of the cast, got through it. Scary in the moment, but once I triumphed over the situation, that damn dream never came back.

  31. So sorry to hear that some of you are having sleep problems :-(

    I have to remember that what works for me may or may not work for other people.

    Before I go to sleep, I open my bedroom window a little, especially if it is very cold outside! Yes, I have a screen door. I want to avoid the risk of carbon dioxide poisoning while I sleep. I also turn down the thermostat. If I leave it on high, I wake up with an headache. And I cannot sleep.

    I also stop drinking anything with caffeine by 9AM. I know that if I drink coffee at 10AM, then I cannot go to sleep until after midnight!

    For me, I notice that when I exercise more, I sleep better.

    Please keep in mind that my solution may or may not work for other people.

    Regarding dreams, I usually do not remember my dreams once I wake up. Once in a while when I remember dreams, I recall pieces from the dream.