Sleeping has always been an issue for me. Not napping: I’m a wiz at napping.
The problem is falling asleep in a bed and staying that way for six to eight hours. I’m just not good at it. Never have been.
I have tried many things over the years. I took Ambien once. It worked well, but there was an odd side effect. Not only did I think I got a good night’s sleep, but when I woke up in the morning, I discovered I had mowed the entire front lawn in the dark.
I also tried allergy medicine because a friend told me that if I took a couple it would make me sleep deeply. It also made me a little goofy. I don’t think growling at yourself in the mirror is normal.
The one place I sleep great is on a bus. But why? There is nothing on a bus that lends itself to sleeping. The seats are hard, the space is cramped and it’s usually hot.
Nevertheless, I recently decided to simulate the very conditions on a bus that always send me to never-never land. I asked my wife to talk to me like a tour guide. You know, drone on about how the Greeks built the Acropolis and how the Romans constructed the Appian Way. (That worked beautifully when we were overseas. I don’t even remember being in Rome.)
Mary Ellen felt kind of dumb talking to me from the foot of the bed, but she did it. Then I asked her to rock the bed back and forth so I’d feel like I was really on the bus. That’s when she got off the bus and slept on the couch.
I realized it wasn’t the tour guide droning on that made me sleepy. So instead of lying in bed, I took a hard-back metal folding chair and sat on it. Then I bounced up and down like I was on a bus and looked sideways out my bedroom window.
But I was still wide awake after 30 minutes. Maybe it was the sun that makes me drowsy, so I shone a floor lamp directly in my eyes. Then I started bouncing up and down again. I think my neighbor Norm could see in my bedroom window from his living room, which might explain why he kept staring at me the next day when I was watering the garden.
I wasn’t sure what else I could do to re-create riding a bus. Mary Ellen wouldn’t let me invite 30 strangers over to sit around the bed, so I was at a loss about what to do next.
Then it hit me. The bus trips are during the day, but I’m trying to sleep at night. So I got back into my chair at high noon, sat straight up, looking out my bedroom window. The scenery wasn’t changing so I started moving the chair from one window to the next. The sun was pouring in on my face. Suddenly I felt myself getting sleepy, very sleepy. Zzzzzz.
It worked. I slept from noon until 8 p.m., sitting straight up in the chair, leaning against my bedroom window. My insomnia was cured.
Two hours later, it was time for bed. I got under the covers and just couldn’t fall asleep.
Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes a regular column that appears in the Daily Journal.