It is about 3 a.m., the time that the shadowy other residents come out if they are so inclined. I’m awake. Not just an ‘awake,’ that is easily solved by a sigh and a shuffle down the hall to the bathroom then back to bed and sleep. Oh no, this is ‘AWAKE’! Eyes wide open, brain racing as it deals with all the upcoming chores.
I’ve tried all the old remedies, such as counting backwards from 100. I’ve even tried counting backwards by even and odd numbers. Nothing. I’ve tried picking a topic then thinking of related words for each letter of the alphabet. It too doesn’t work.
I do know what eventually cures this awake though. Muttering, I search for my glasses, the bedside flashlight and my dressing gown. A mug of hot milk and a couple of hours on the computer or watching TV until I feel tired again. The cat on the end of the bed sighs, stands up and turns around a few times before settling back into her mousy dream. I leave to wait for sleepiness.
This has been going on . . . and getting worse . . . for several years now. I’ve spoken to health care providers and, other than doing more during the day, the only solution appears to be a pill. No. So, I carry on with this routine from three to five days a week knowing full well it is bad for my health.
A chance mention of this sleep . . . or lack of sleep . . . problem to our daughter’s significant other and he too admitted he used to have the same problem. The words “used to” immediately had my attention. He said it is a proven fact that a blue light emitted by computer terminals, lap tops, iPads, tablets, etc play havoc with the brain’s release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. He is in Internet technology for the federal government and his hobby is gaming so both work and relaxation are spent in front of screens. He said he solved his insomnia by buying and wearing a pair of blue light cancelling glasses. Aha!
It took a week of six consecutive sleepless nights before I broke down and ordered a pair. I was still a little skeptical that it could be that easy but decided to try it. They arrived and, lo and behold, five straight nights of sleep, waking refreshed the next morning.
Then a piece on the CTV’s 11 p.m. news centered on a growing problem with children. Insomnia. Various solutions were given such as making sure they get enough exercise, fresh air, adequate down time before bed, etc, etc then, you guessed it, limiting computer time due to blue light emitted by the terminal upsetting the release of melatonin! It was mentioned that children are spending even more time at terminals during this pandemic due to online schooling, keeping in touch with friends and filling up their play time.
I started considering my time online. Yes, it has increased substantially over the past few years too. Not just demands from editors but added record-keeping and internet connections required by our farm operation, keeping in contact with friends and research. Yes, a lot more hours a day for me . . . and now done 100 % of the time when wearing these slightly yellow-tinted glasses. Many times I find I still have them on in the evening so I watch TV with them too.
Maybe this idea will help others out there. If it does, consider it my 2021 gift to you.
Angela Dorie is an agricultural writer and a Jersey farmer near Cornwall.