On my journey to better sleep, meaning that I both get to sleep and stay asleep, I have devised a concoction which seems to help – most of the time. I read every article on sleep and sleep issues.
In my own practice, I sleep in a dark room both day and night. Keep the temperature cool (as possible). Keep digital lights out of sight. Silence my phone. There is no television or computer in the space. Sometimes I read until my eyes are heavy. Empty my bladder. Keep water at the bedside, just in case. Stop drinking two hours before bedtime. Eat a light snack of protein before resting. Schedule seven plus hours for the opportunity to sleep. My covers are soft. My pillow is cool and adjusts to support my neck. I use an adductor pillow between my knees when on my side and a roll under them when on my back.
I pass on the teas as that means waking to pee. I pass on the alcohol both for that reason and because it’s an expensive sleep aid that interferes with rest after a few hours. I pass on Benadryl as it causes me to feel wired and raw, as though there is a bright light shining in my brain. I pass on kava as I feel as though I am leaving my body all night long, which is distressing for me.
Which brings us to valerian. In the past I have been reluctant to take valerian as the side effects were incredibly vivid overwhelming dreams. And the kava valerian combination left me feeling insane when I came out of sleep. My reconsideration came after reading about melatonin, again. Though I had tried melatonin years ago with no success, I was willing to try again. This preparation includes melatonin, valerian, magnesium, hops, and passion flowers. I had some slow mag tablets (with calcium) I added along with naproxen sodium for my joint pain/discomfort. Oh, and my actual sleeping medication – trazadone (50 mg). You’d think that sleep would be mine, right?
For a couple of weeks I did indeed sleep. Yes, there were strange fantastical dreams but I was not deterred as “sleep is premium.” However, lately my dreams have required massive amounts of energy. Last week I spent hours running through a marble building, magnificent in structure, but apparently planted with explosives ready to go off at any moment. My first clue was the guy lighting his cigarette inside with a piece of paper and then waving the flaming bits around. I backed out the door and took off running through pillars and walkways, only to feel as if I were going in circles and then to end up confronted by the terrorist or one of them. I woke, rolled over, fell back asleep and picked up where I left off. Sadly, I woke repeatedly to find myself without a way of escape. Finally, a man told me to stay out of the light and as I ducked around a corner I met with a pistol. Men in black suits ran down the stairs directly to the pistol holding fellow and stick a shield into his chest, and he died. I thought I was safe until he stuck the same shield into my left temple. I ask, “Are you leaving me here to die?” He walked away. I woke. This time, it was for the day. Going back to sleep was less inviting and I was not interested in the rest of the story.
Yesterday, I dreamt I was a prisoner and a guard. You know how you are everyone all at once. We were connected by electrodes and for the term of the sentence we shared the experience of ballroom dancing. All out attention was focused on the couple on the floor. Whenever our attention shifted, I the prisoner got an electric shock. I, the guard, had a basketball game on my mind. It was very important that I get the prisoner free so he could play in this game. As the prisoner I sustained multiple shocks until the guard broke free from the connection and we took off running (a theme)… We end up in a warehouse. Kids. Guns. Another set of robbers. Stores. Shopping. Guys in blue suits with fresh haircuts, and the hair has been left where it fell. A jeep on a lift that’s ticking. A woman that swears I know her but will not tell me how. Attraction. Re-evaluation. Insights.
I woke exhausted. Still, sleep is premium. I have some nutty ways of being and those were rather evident to me in this set of dreams. I also appreciated the social commentary (in my head) that the prisoner and jailer are one and that the priorities of the individual often outweigh the demands of the system. I noticed my tendency to leap into feeling and situations even as I am thinking what an incredibly BAD idea this is, but feeling that I will manage whatever comes along.
Maybe that’s me. I will manage whatever comes along. I will live and move through the process. I enjoy adventure, even the crazy shite that pisses me off. My life is full of exciting stories (from the past). I live WAY more settled these days – in my waking life. Could it be that valerian is just what I need? Yes, I feel shaken up, unsettled, knocked around, just like when I was out there carrying on. I’m okay with that, at the moment. When morning comes (which is my night), I gather my concoction and swallow with a sip of water, enjoy my yogurt, slip into my bed clothes, and hunker under the covers. I easily forget the dreams of yesterday and give no thoughts to those which may come. My only goal, complete focus, is on a good sleep and with that, rest. I affirm my life and love, extending divine energy from heart to heart, and drift way into valerian dreams.