I could be asleep at this very minute


By Bill Derby

I just received an edition of Consumer Reports. One of the lead articles went into detail about our sleep deprived population, sleep meds, and sleep-help devices.

Adjusting to this weeks’ time change doesn’t help our sleep patterns either. Each spring I change the clocks a day early on Saturday morning to help me adjust better for springing forward. Judy says it screws up her whole day since I don’t tell her about it.

It’s true. A number of us don’t sleep so well, about 164 million.  As we age sleep becomes more difficult. We are hit every day by prescription drug advertising on television. Most of the commercial time explains the drugs’ possible side effects.

“This drug may cause: memory loss, stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, loss of sex drive, loss of appetite, dryness of the mouth, dizziness, heart palpitations, muscle aches, and in some cases, overwhelming urge to shop or even to gamble.” I can handle the other stuff, but not the diarrhea.

News stories report that more than 40 million Americans take sleeping pills that could cause sleepwalking, driving in their sleep and even binge eating. They say it could be the side effects of the drug or other disorders in the patient causing the problem.

These wild sleepwalker stories were actually reported. One lady binge ate while on a sleeping pill. She was caught by her husband eating raw eggs, uncooked yellow rice and a whole loaf of bread. She was also distressed at having gone from a size 2 dress to a size 12.  Her husband said when she came back to bed he had to shovel the food out of her mouth. The least he could do was cook her a sandwich.

Another person was eating buttered cigarettes and salt sandwiches. They must have been watching the cooking channel. One man built a dog house out of paper mache at 4 a.m. He, for sure, was watching the home improvement channel.

I personally know a man who experienced a sleep aid incident. While still asleep he went into his bathroom and proceeded to shave his whole body, face, chest, legs etc. He made it through the ordeal without leaving any blood on the floor, only a pile of hair. He may have been dreaming about body builders who shave their body when they are in competition or he may have watched an episode of “Naked and Afraid” that evening.

I was having a little trouble myself sleeping a few years ago.

“Doc, I can’t sleep.  Would you please prescribe some of those pills advertised on TV but not the ones that cause diarrhea and other bad stuff,” I pleaded.

“Do you drink coffee with your evening meal?” the Doc asked.

“Only three cups. Is that too much?” I responded.

The young internist looked serious and suggested I stop drinking coffee, get more exercise, reduce my stress levels and take one of these little pills before bedtime.

I now understand why I ended up in some of the places I found myself and explains why I’m exhausted in the morning.

Only two weeks ago at 3:45 a.m. I found myself on hole number 15 at the Johnson City Country Club putting for a birdie. I must have hit a really good tee shot because it’s hard to birdie number 15.  I made it back home okay but still had my golf shoes on when I woke up.

Another time I found myself at 2 a.m., along with some shady characters, at the Waffle House in Kingsport eating a double order of waffles, bacon, hash browns and large milk. The next morning Judy knew I had been out. Said she could smell syrup on my breath and the car was out of gas.

I also tried to get into the Mall early one morning to do a little shopping. The guard stopped by with flashing lights and wanted to know what in heck I was doing knocking on the front door in my tighty whities. He let me go home if I promised never to come back during closing hours.

Today, I’m off those little pills. I’m walking every day, doing a little weight lifting and as for stress, I read Consumer Reports.


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