18 October 2006

Thinking About Condee and My Sleeping Trouble

The nuclear crisis in North Korea has me thinking about Dr. Condoleezza Rice, current US Secretary of State. Mostly because she’s been in the news while she reassures Japan that the US intends to support Japan against North Korea’s insanity.

(In an aside, I happen to buy into nuclear non-proliferation. I think you have to be crazy to want the whole world to have access to nukes.)

Previously in the Bush administration (or as I prefer to call it, the Evil Empire), she was the National Security Advisor. While I despise most of what she stands for, and the fact that she works for the most evil human being on the planet, I admire her.

She is one heck of a smart lady; earned her doctorate in 1981, and has been on the faculty of Stanford University since she earned her doctorate. Since President Idiot was (not by popular vote) elected at the end of 2000, I have said that he at least has the wits to surround himself with VERY smart people…I’m a big fan of Colin Powell, the first Secretary of State for the Idiot Administration. And like him or not (and I don’t), Dick Cheney’s a smart guy too.

I’ve heard Dr. Rice a couple of times on the BBC in the last couple of days. I’m getting out of bed earlier to go get to the gym as a positive start to my days and the Beeb is on my local NPR affiliate from 5 to 6 (IN THE MORNING, folks). I find it very interesting that the Beeb always refers to her as “Dr. Rice” and NPR always says “Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice”. I wonder if that is a cultural statement from the Beeb (purposefully not mentioning that she’s SoS) or if the whole name/title is just too long to say over and over. Perhaps since Britain’s equivalent office is Foreign Secretary, the obvious confusion that would ensue from a listening British public is simply eliminated by them saying Dr. Rice. I hope, with all my heart, that she’s able to bring most of Asia into consensus about North Korea, and that this isn’t the beginning of the end of days.

Have I mentioned how poorly I’ve been sleeping lately? I note above that I’m getting out of bed earlier, not waking up earlier. I sleep from about 10 pm until midnight or so, and then again until 3 am and that’s about it. As a child, I would ask my parents, “Can I go to bed now?” and I’m known in my family for sleeping 10-12 hours and more, up until my 20s. Now I count myself extremely fortunate if I get more than 7 hours total sleep. I have trouble falling asleep; DH falls asleep like turning off a light switch, bam, he’s out. I take forever to nod off. And I have trouble staying asleep. I’m up at least twice every night to pee (keee-rist is that annoying) and then heaven only knows what wakes me otherwise, but I wake on average 7 or 8 times in those scant 5-6 hours of sleep I get. I’ve tried a couple of things; first, natural remedies like Melatonin, which is supposedly the chemical secreted by your brain that regulates your sleep/wake cycle (it didn’t work for me). Then I tried lavender essential oil; baths, rubbing it on my temples, adding it to unscented laundry detergent and washing all my bed linens in it. DH despises the smell of lavender, so that’s out if I want to continue to sleep next to my husband. It didn’t solve the problem anyway, other than making me feel a bit more relaxed because I <3 lavender.

After my honeymoon six years ago, which was spent in Alaska, I did talk a doctor into writing a prescription of Ambien for me. Seven days worth. To help my body’s clock reset itself to the Eastern time zone, which is I think at least 5 hours ahead of Alaska. I was having trouble readjusting, unable to fall asleep until the wee small hours. It worked, and for about a year, I slept all right. But by 2002, I couldn’t sleep again. And I went back to over the counter stuff (Nytol, Sleepinal) but only when I had a few nights in a row of sleeplessness.

And then Lunesta (eszopiclone) was unleashed on the world. Here in the US, Lunesta’s marketing campaign is spearheaded by a very cute green luminescent butterfly, which drifts into bedroom windows, and brushes its wings over the faces of sleepless adults who immediately close their eyes and get a good night’s rest. I bought into the hype; the commercial talks about “if you have trouble turning off your restless mind” and I do, so I mentioned my sleeping trouble to my friend and family doctor, who is nearly as cute as McSteamy on Grey’s Anatomy. Dr. Hottie first suggested that I get tested for adult ADD, but I really don’t think that is my problem. And I argued against that by saying that the main problem is getting settled into a good night’s sleep and that I’d really like to try the Lunesta. So in 2005, he wrote me a prescription for it, and I took it.

It did help me get a few night’s rest, but then the effectiveness diminished over time. (About a week’s time, not months.) And the commercial mentions that “side effects may include unpleasant taste”, but that sure didn’t prepare me for the sensation, which is best described as the taste left in your mouth by a three day drinking bender, combined possibly with cat urine, coupled with the unfortunate fact that it can’t be brushed or rinsed away by toothpaste or mouthwash. No, it just has to go away on its own, and that takes a whole day to wear off. “The Taste” makes EVERYTHING you put into your mouth taste bad; water tastes like “the taste”, and it flavors everything else you eat with its unpleasantness.

So I quit taking Lunesta last year and tried a product made by Tylenol, called Simply Sleep. As OTC sleep aids go, it has no side effects for me, is inexpensive, and gets me about 4 solid hours of sleep, so that’s fine. But it isn’t the long-term solution that I’m hoping for, and I don’t know what is.

There is another new prescription sleep aid on the market called Rozerem, with another slick advertising campaign, (featurning Abe Lincoln, a chess board and a beaver) but my research shows it is just a hyped up version of Melatonin, which I don’t think is going to work for me. And I don’t want to buy into the marketing hype again, I’m hoping that I’m older and wiser now.

I’ve started working out every day in an effort to get a better night’s sleep. I need to lose weight, probably about 70 pounds, (and I’m being BRUTALLY honest there) but that isn’t my main motivation in getting to the gym. Getting a better night’s sleep is. It seems to be working thus far (a whole 4 days into it) and I’m getting at least 4 hours uninterrupted. Right now I’m only doing 30 minutes of cardio each day, which is tough and intense because I’m fat and asthmatic. I’m using the elliptical trainers, which force you to move both your legs AND your arms (I’ve earned a sore shoulder, but no other ill effects) and each day increasing the amount of time I spend in my target heart rate zone. (18.47 today!) After I’ve done that for a month or more, I plan to add strength training to the regimen, and I’m also actively seeking to add a Yoga class now. I used to take Yoga from a lady named Pam, and I loved it. But she moved to Florida (smart Pam!) and I’ve never found another yoga practitioner that I clicked with so well. The Y has one yoga class a week, on Saturday mornings at 8 am. I don’t think that’s going to work in my schedule, but I am going to give it a shot this week and see if I like the instructor. I don’t want to join another gym just for Yoga classes.

Do you have sleeping problems? What works for you? I’m going to visit my sista in New York City next month…should I try to take a Yoga class with Mimi? I think that would be really awesome, and I should have at least one full day when my sis is working and I have nothing but time on my hands. But is that too stalker? I read Mimi almost every day, and I think it might be way too weird. What do you think?

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