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Rona Barrett

Rona Barrett

Have you been feeling a little out of sorts lately? I certainly have. It’s been tougher to concentrate, and I've been feeling a little irritable and less patient.

My friend noticed and asked how I was sleeping. “Not well,” I said, trying not to sound snappish.

She asked me how old my bed was. I told her it was fairly new, but too firm for my weary body so I bought a mattress topper. But, still, like writer Terri Guillemets laments, “I’ve had such bad insomnia the sleep cops have issued a warrant for my rest.”

It’s like I’m stuck in the middle of a Dolly Parton song: “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life...”

This is an old scenario. Back in my younger days and earlier career, the questions that kept me awake revolved around, “What’s the big story for tomorrow,” and “Where am I going to get it?” Night after night these questions haunted me, even though I knew I would be able to rise to the challenge and answer them. It was only after a few nights of this torment I so exhausted myself I could finally sleep well.

This routine holds true today because I’ve put myself on an extraordinary timeline – especially at my age. There’s so much more to accomplish before I can say, “There. It’s done.”

You know what I’m talking about. Even if you’re no longer doing the nine-to-five stint every day, you’ve got your own internal and external stressors keeping you awake night after night.

So what can we do to get a better night’s sleep?

Apparently, a lot based on the advertisements we’re bombarded with. Have you noticed how many new types of beds there are? And how wonderful they are in giving us the best sleep? But, to buy that perfect bed we have to research, analyze and decide – before we plunk down as much as a car used to cost. Alas, I didn’t do that before I purchased my bed, hence the mattress topper.

We can also take a pill, either over-the-counter or by prescription. But, the sleep you get with most sleeping pills is impoverished sleep, says a Harvard psychiatry professor. Alcohol sure is enjoyable and will make you fall asleep, but you won’t stay asleep.

And, if you use a smart phone, there is app after app promising to lull you to sleep. The only caution is don’t have the phone too close to your head. You might fall asleep easier, but there could be unintended consequences we don’t want to even think about.

As Dolly sings, “it’s enough to drive us crazy if we let it!”

We all know there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. And maybe you have a solution. If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, maybe I need to do what I always say: think the good thoughts. So when I do lay my weary body down, I’ll try this: Instead of admonishing myself for what I didn’t accomplish, I’ll focus on being grateful for the challenges, dilemmas, and problems I solved.

Until next time, sweet dreams ... and keep thinking the good thoughts.

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Senior activist and local resident Rona Barrett is the driving force behind the Golden Inn & Village (GIV), the area’s first affordable senior living facility. Still to come is “Harry’s House” at GIV for those who need assisted living or memory care. Reach her at info@ronabarrettfoundation.org. Visit www.ronabarrettfoundation.org for more information.

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