According to several recent surveys (one by SleepBetter.org, among others), Americans are a sleep-deprived lot. Our lost hours of sleep may be contributing to daytime tiredness, impaired reflex times, moodiness, a lack of concentration and poor decision-making abilities. The SleepBetter.org survey indicated that the top three concerns keeping American adults up at night are finances, family and health.
Well, yeah, plus random stuff that I have no awareness of even thinking about during my waking hours. I have this voice in my head – I call him Hector – who seems only to be awake at 3 in the morning, and who, congenial insomniac that he is, wants company in the wee hours. So he wakes me up SHOUTING such essential concerns as: OMIGOD, WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER HAS A BABY, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO TAKE ENOUGH TIME OFF TO BE WITH HER??? YOUR POOR GRANDCHILDREN WILL NEVER KNOW YOU!!!!! Never mind that my daughter only got married this summer and children are in their long-term plan, not their RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE plan.
Hector wakes me up to worry about how many tomatoes are going to waste on my countertop at precisely this very moment, whether we have enough photos for our next issue of The Herb Companion, if my dog is doing that because he has ear mites or just allergies, and what IS that noise out on the carport?
If I quell one concern and start to settle back down, Hector suddenly remembers something else that simply HAS to be fretted over this VERY MINUTE!!!! Maybe I don’t have enough in my 401k plan, but honestly, can I change my salary allocation at 3:10 a.m.? And yes, I don’t have the right shoes to go with that navy outfit, but … really, I don’t like buying shoes online and I don’t think there’s a single shoe store open at 3:25 in the stinkin' morning. Especially now that I’ve moved 25 miles out in the country.
Hector will keep up his conversation with me until, perversely, about 20 minutes before my alarm is to go off at 5:30 a.m. Then, he lets me drift off just enough to awaken cranky and resentful that I just started relaxing and now the world is calling me back from the Land of Nod.
Looking at it now from the distance of a quiet afternoon, Hector’s insistence seems pretty funny. But for a time, all this mental jabber actually was negatively affecting my quality of life, and my attitude at work. I found I was only getting five or so hours of sleep and no matter what I did – limiting coffee after lunch, no exercise in the evenings/lots of exercise in the evenings, getting to bed plenty early, reading until I fell asleep, counting sheep, counting blessings instead of counting sheep, saying thank you for everything in my life I could think of (this got into the deep details some nights: Thank you, God, that I have good fingernails. Thank you, God, that my dog is learning to sleep at the foot of the bed and not on my pillow. Thank you, God, that peaches and blackberries are ripe at the same time…), nothing seemed to mute Hector’s insistence.
And then … I discovered Herbs, Etc.’s Deep Sleep. Its contents are like a Who’s Who of The Drowsy-Making Herbs: fresh California poppy plant, fresh valerian root, fresh passionflower herb tip, fresh chamomile flower, fresh lemon balm, fresh milky oat seed and orange peel. I don’t know how the orange peel made it to that roster, but the other stuff I’ve read about over the past several years and thought, “Hmmm. … I wonder if that might help…”
You know how they say you sometimes have to hit bottom before you can really change your ways? I knew I had hit bottom one week when I snapped at two of my lovely co-workers and also found myself nodding out at my desk in the middle of the afternoon. I started drinking strong coffee to combat the nods, but … well, you probably can guess how that solution went.
So I started actually reading the ingredients on those little bottles at the natural foods coop and decided Herbs, Etc. had the best combo. Deep Sleep 1 oz. AF. (I now use the non-alcoholic version because I sometimes give it to my older dog who goes completely frantic every time it storms.)
I’m here to tell you, the results were immediate and remarkable. I’ve been at this regimen for a while now and every single night that I take a little eye-dropper of this tincture before bedtime, I sleep until the alarm goes off. Unless, of course, the aforementioned cocker dog sits right NEXT to me on the pillow and does that collar-jingly trick. Otherwise, I’m getting a good six or seven hours of shut-eye on a regular basis these days. I should go for eight hours, but in my harum-scarum world, that truly does feel like burning daylight.
Sometimes I wonder where Hector has gone? Is he still up there, jabbering away, with the volume turned down? Or did I do the equivalent of stuffing a sock in his little mouth? Either way, I’m a happy – and well-rested – camper.