Routines and Rituals

catWhen I started Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog at the pristine age of 64, my goal was to write about the whole experience of Feeling Older, both the good and the bad.  Contrary to what our youth-oriented culture seems to think, there are plenty of both.  Part of aging gracefully is learning to accept the difficulties that come as body and mind begin to wear out while appreciating the lessons that sixty-something years of life teach.  Some things actually get better.   One of the things that has not gotten better with age is sleeping.  I’ve always been a night owl, staying up late and surviving on a minimum of sleep.  One of the things that made that possible (besides youth, of course) was the ability to fall asleep quickly.  I am still a night owl, often posting until midnight or one a.m. but I no longer fall asleep immediately, regardless of what time my head hits the pillow or how tired I feel.  I’m sure all sixty-somethings don’t have this problem but many do … I’ve asked them.  Here’s how it works.  I come to bed, most times with my

wife, Muri, already soundly asleep on her side (the right side) of the bed.  I’m a runner when I sleep and it is always more comfortable to run to the right, in the direction of the Love of My Life.   I am absolutely certain every time I will fall asleep that way but 15-30 minutes later, I’m awake.  I try lying on my back but that doesn’t work either.   I roll over and run to the left, which doesn’t feel as comfortable as right-running, but I’m asleep in five minutes.  I know what you’re thinking … Just start running left, Older Eyes.   Doesn’t work, believe me.   I’ve tried, it’s the whole deal or no sleepy.   I seem to have inadvertently developed a bedtime Routine.  I used to laugh at how old people got so fixed in their ways.  Not any more.

A friend of mine suggested that I use his bedtime Ritual to break my bedtime routine.  Lie on your back, he said, with your arms crossed on your chest and start counting to a thousand.  Kind of like counting sheep, says I, trying to be funny.  You don’t need the sheep.  I’m usually asleep before I reach 100.  I tried it.  The next time we were together he asked how it worked.   I gave up when I reached 4,322, I said.  He just laughed and shook his head.  I’ve tried exercising more (within the limits of my time and this old body).  I’ve tried melatoninlavender and even a lavender spray on my pillow (which doesn’t work but makes me smell like my grandmother).   I’ve tried having a glass (or two) of wine and not having wine.  The sleep seems to be the same either way but I like having the wine better.  I’ve even tried a Xanax once or twice … it’s nice to be relaxed as I’m lying there awake 45 minutes later.   The solution has, of course been afternoon naps.  I have a routine for those, too … Bose Noise Canceling Headphones in my recliner.  Asleep in five minutes.  After years of watching my father doze in his chair, I associated with napping with being old.  Turns out I was right.  Yes, I tried going to bed at night with my Bose headphones on but nearly strangled myself on the cord.  Now, the UK’s Daily Mail has published a study that says, British adults who sleep for an hour or more in the day increased the chances of premature death by almost a third.   Freakin’ wonderful.  Do you suppose my British heritage counts?  Since I’m about to make it to 70, does that mean I’ve already avoided a premature death and don’t have to worry?

There is no shortage online of advice on more bedtime Rituals to overcome myjillian bedtime routine.  Oprah offers a suggestion by fitness and wellness expert, Jillian Micheals, that I listen to audio books set at a very low volume while I doze off.  Since, Jillian looks to be forty-something and  according to Oprah, is as hard-core about sleep as she is about exercise, I don’t think my Inner Curmudgeon will accept her advice.   He says. Isn’t sleep supposed to be relaxing, not hard-core?  Besides, my favorite author, Stephen King, would probably scare Muri.  A post on About.com says that Stimulating activities, such as exercising, doing work, using a computer, playing video games, or watching television may disrupt your sleep.  Thank goodness they don’t mention blogging with TV as a backgroundCanadian Living Magazine offers 10 bedtime rituals to guarantee a good night’s rest, including a bath, a massage, meditation, reading and Yoga.  Shit.  I’d be up all night.  Nope.  I’m living on the wild side and sticking with my nap.

What bedtime rituals work for you?

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One Comment on “Routines and Rituals”

  1. cherperz Says:

    I, too, have developed some issues as far as sleep goes, as I have gotten older. I fall asleep easy enough but I wake up 45 minutes or an hour later…wide awake. I often get up and watch TV or read. I go back to bed and another hour goes by and I am wide awake. This sporadic waking and sleeping varies from night to night but there are quite a few days that I am draggy.

    I have tried a lot of the same techniques you mentioned and I don’t see that any make a difference. White noise helps some. In the winter I run a small humidifier which is a bonus as far as providing some additional humidity, the accompanying hum is restful for me. In the warmer months I run a fan even though central air is providing it to be cool enough.


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