It’s All Saints Day. I know this because I was up at 2:45 this morning contemplating the religious holiday, and wondering why I was up at 2:45. I never had a problem with insomnia when I was younger. Now it’s a nightly visitor, leaving me a zombie for large parts of the next day. There are four stages of sleep:
- Stage 1: when you fall asleep ON your computer keyboard, and wake up with QWERTY emblazoned on your forhead;
- Stage 2: when the dog is on your lap, sending out sleepy rays, and you are likely to miss that amazing interception, blocked field goal, or pictures of Brett Favre’s naughty parts;
- Stage 3: REM (Rapid Eye Movement) when you wake up alert and annoyingly chipper;
- Stage 4: when you wake to find yourself in bed with two chickens, a goat, and a bottle of Tequila.
Most seniors with insomnia have trouble getting past stage 1 and 2. Stage 4 is usually reserved for toga parties and shore leave.
There are several common causes for insomnia as you age. First, our internal clocks regress, causing us to eat dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon, go to bed at 6:30, and get up when every channel is showing infomercials for the Bullet Blender.
Changes in activity can affect your sleep. Being active during the day is more likely to produce a more restful sleep at night than if your major accomplishment is peeling a banana.
Changes in health can contribute to insomnia. Prostrate problems, hot flashes, restless leg syndrome, indigestion, and pain are common factors. Less common is sleeplessness due to gout, rickets, or scurvy. (No, I didn’t say “goat.” See stage four for barnyard biorhythms.)
Increased use of medications can cause insomnia, like the aspirin that you smuggled up from Mexico last week. By the way, if you did some stage four sleeping while you were down there, nobody has to know.