Not being able to sleep has been a lifetime issue. When I was younger, I loved it. I got 2-3 more hours out of a day than most people. The world was quieter, no phone calls, and no interruptions from family. But after menopause, it changed. Heck, staying up until 2am means I am not functional the next day.
It doesn't matter whether it's too much caffeine or chocolate or excitement or worry, losing sleep sucks. So I've learned lots of tricks. Besides the ones I already mentioned, here are a few more.
Listening to meditation music (kept on all night at low volume) is soothing white noise which allows the mind to ignore other sounds like a ticking clock, sounds from the street or your partner's snoring. It's designed to put you in an alpha state which is relaxing and regenerative. It's a lullaby for adults. You may find you sleep sounder too, for you're less likely to be awakened by incidental noises.
Listening to a book on tape (kept on low all night) also works. We love being read a story, it's like being a child again. Use a book with a melodious voice and not too interesting. I have listened to Power vs. Force* over 100 times for it's over 8 hours long and his voice is deep and soothing. Plus, each sentence is instructive, so hearing a few sentences during the night is like hearing just what I needed to hear.
Repeating "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha" silently but with your mouth open also works because it stops the hamster-wheel chatter. Thinking of things past, present or future makes us restless and unable to sleep. By repeating "Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha" for several breaths, you'll become calm, relaxed, and soon fall back to sleep.
Remembering dreams can work, too. Again, because it accesses what you experienced while sleeping. It doesn't matter if the dreams were recent or long ago, or if you can only remember pieces of them. This keeps you resting whereas if you begin to list what you have to do, or begin to worry, or to think of some past bad memory, you become agitated. Thinking of any and all dreams you can remember puts you back into a dream-state.
Remember, just lying still with the mind quiet, your body is resting. It is almost as restorative as sleeping, so stop fretting and start resting better!
If your partner objects to music or listening to a book, wear ear buds. This has the double advantage of acting as ear plugs which helps muffle sounds.
P.S. A glass of warm or cold milk works too, drunk at bedtime or in the middle of the night, but I gained weight doing this option, so prefer the above options. Milk works because it has tryptophan which is an essential amino acid.
*Power vs. Force read by the author David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.
Going out for Hot Pot is one of my favorite meals. A large pot in the center of the table is divided into spicy and regular. It boils the raw beef, lamb, fish, shrimp, lotus root, sweet potatoes and vegetables. Everyone fishes out what they want with their chopsticks and dips it in sesame sauce garnished to taste with garlic, chives, cilantro (coriander) and spices.
Imagine cooked lettuce, it's delicious. At the end, homemade noodles are stretched super long in fast fancy dance moves to boom-box music in an ornate show including the noodles being flung high in the air and across the table pizza-style.
Because we were a group of 8 foreigners, two guys came to do the noodles, including the head chef. These are then dropped into the boiling pot as the final course. The mask show was done closest to us, again due to our being foreigners. Each time he bumped his face, the mask changed. We were also given trinkets as souvenirs. And they wanted to take a group photo of us.
So for 50 yuan each (less than $10) we had all we could eat and three delightful performances.
I went to China because I needed a whole new life.
But I stayed because it was so interesting and easy to live there.
I loved my job, the people, the students, the food, and every day something happened that I didn't expect.
Chinese students usually pick an English name, especially if they plan to go abroad. But maybe being typical teens, or in some cases they simply don't know better, their names need to be changed.
Imagine French Fries applying to Harvard? Or Brain? What about a girl named Hymen? A boy named Barbara slugged his desk-mate when he learned it was a girl's name and changed it immediately to Bob.
Part of my job this year was finding more suitable names for these students:
The funny thing is that I remembered their original names for weeks and it took me a long time to learn their new names, so there is something to be said for picking something unique.
No longer able to do my beloved Rolfing, I looked online for a part-time job. It became a part-time job researching and sending out 100 resumes. In those six months, I got only one interview. One day, an ad caught my eye: Teach English in China. I'd love to do that! I thought, but then realized, I can't, I have a husband. However, over the next few days, I wondered, if I were to go, what would I have to do?
Getting two letters of recommendation was the first step. And surprisingly, though it meant being away for ten months, the people were ecstatic to write them. When I got the recommendations, I cried for they described the person I used to be before my marriage. Finally, I decided I had to go to China if only to see if I could be that person again who loved life, people, her job and was on good terms with everyone.
Overnight, I had energy, enthusiasm and a future that excited and made sense to me. No longer was it hard to walk up a flight of stairs nor did I fill my hours playing word games on the computer.
Packing up my office so that my step-son could move back in with us, I happened upon an old journal and saw my list of 100 things I wanted to do before I die. Going to China was number one. I wonder if hearing my grandma say whenever life got frustrating, "I just want to get on a slow boat to China" made China seem a safe place.
My family and friends varied greatly in their reaction to my decision. My daughters were supportive and not surprised. Whereas my dad asked in bewilderment, "What kind of person does that?" "Me," I laughed.
Funnily enough, new friends were delighted with this life path, but to them I was Kathryn-going-to-China. As soon as they met me, they knew I was going to leave, so I wasn't abandoning them.
I remember the moment I looked out on the Pacific Ocean from our top deck. The day was as jaw-dropping gorgeous as the first day we saw it. Santa Cruz Island stood in sharp relief against the blue sea, the barren patches shone gold, the trees so clear you could almost count them. Santa Barbara looked quaint with its red tile roofs nestled in greenery. The harbor looked like a postcard and remains the cutest harbor I've ever seen, big enough to hold cruise ships and small enough to be a short walk to your boat. I stared long and vowed, "I give up this beautiful view to see one thousand more."
I learned my first word of Chinese waiting in line at the Los Angeles Airport. I hadn't taken the time to learn any as I'd be there for months, and there was a multitude of projects I wanted to finish before leaving.
When I got to China and fell in love with it, and was happier in an apartment the size of a garage, I thought my husband would hate me. But when it seemed I might have a brain tumor, I realized that if I had two months to live or the rest of my life, I didn't want to fight anymore.
We had fought most every day about the kids, the house, money, remodeling and our future. But saying, "I want a divorce" stopped all the fighting. He just said, "Okay, I understand." It made me realize that loving someone isn't enough, that you have to like them, too, and it's hard to like someone who doesn't like most of your ideas.
The irony is that he has gotten involved with Laughter Yoga, too. Somehow it took my going to the other side of the world -- and him changing jobs and remarrying -- for us both to find Laughter Yoga. I wish I'd found Laughter Yoga back in 1995 when it began! Way too many black moments wasted being miserable when I could have been laughing!
Now I'm beginning my seventh year in China.
Day 16: Laughing daily for just 15 minutes has improved every area of my life.
The skies were blue which is a rarity in Zhengzhou, so we celebrated by having a picnic in the CBD (Central Business District) in the shade by the water.
The largest egg-shaped gold dome (bottom left) holds a first-class auditorium offering symphonies, plays, magic shows, River Dance, and much more year round.
The tall building is a hotel and the tallest building in Zhengzhou.