One City

One City

Right Action, Right Effort, Right Snooze

At 9:30pm on any given Tuesday night, what I’d really like to do most in the world is watch just one more episode of House or Six Feet Under. However, lately I’ve been trying my very best to restrain myself. While the idea of Hugh Laurie in all his sexy scruffy limping genius being the very last thing I see before going to bed (meow), a six year old girl projectile vomiting blood is probably not the best image for a relaxing night’s sleep.
I don’t know how many hours of sleep Buddhist monks get, but I need at least 7 hours of sleep a night to feel good during the day. If my pre-bedtime evening is anxiety-ridden, good sleep is just not gonna happen.

We spend so much time thinking about eating healthy, exercising, keeping our space clean. The idea of having good sleep hygiene is a term I only heard recently. Unlike my obsessive dental hygiene rituals (every night I brush my teeth with Sensodyne, floss with Glide, rinse with Act Restoring mouthwash, and rub my teeth with enamel paste – this isn’t as gross as it sounds) I’ve never paid much attention to the rituals surrounding my sleeping habits. Good sleep hygiene is something we tend to overlook.


Enjoy this free online flute music by Sri Chinmoy while you contemplate your own sleep habits. I find this kind of flute music to be very relaxing….feel yourself falling asleeeeep…so…calm…I’m melting…into a puddle…sigh…

Personally, I have sleeping issues, especially when I’m particularly anxious or stressed. Since taking a job that requires me to wake up at 6am and actually be alert and conscious by 8am (definitely not easy for someone in her early twenties), I’ve tried to pay closer attention to my pre-bedtime habits and identify ways to make my sleep hygiene better.


What I used to do before bed, and why this was a bad idea:

Talk on the phone

Possibility of becoming stressed out or overstimulated by a conversation

Do homework

Definitely overstimulating

Watch TV (ANYthing)

Too engaging, possibility of losing track of time and watching for too long, or watching shows that are too emotionally stimulating

Drink water or milk


Having to get up to go to the bathroom a million times


Tendency to worry

Check e-mail/do research

Same as above

What I attempt to do now:

No phone calls after a certain time

No eating or drinking after a certain time

No e-mail/internet/blogging after a certain time

Only very light reading or light TV (i.e. not Six Feet Under or House)

Dim lamps


When I’m able to get a good night’s sleep, my day is so much better. One thing I haven’t had the discipline to change is sleeping late on the weekends. The experts say that you should stick to one sleeping schedule, go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends and vacations. I simply can’t do that at this point – my enjoyment of staying up late and sleeping late is too great to give this up yet.

What are your bedtime rituals? Do you have good sleep hygiene?

For sleep hygiene resources, check out these websites:


Oh, and enjoy this in the meantime:

hughlaurieDoesn’t he seem to be saying… “dude, just freaking go to bed already”?

Comments read comments(14)
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Ethan Nichtern

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:22 am

Sleep deprivation and insomnia have been dear friends to me recently. I think part of it is I’ve never LOVED sleeping, but always viewed it as a thing I had to do.
Even valerian doesn’t seem to help too much if I’m not in the mood for sleep.
Coffee is sometimes my favorite pillow.

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Julia May Jonas

posted March 3, 2009 at 10:39 am

I love sleep. XOXO to sleep. This is why Ethan will take over the world and I will not. I also need seven to eight hours of sleep. I don’t watch television, but I noticed when I was watching the Mad Men First Season DVD’s I stayed up later than I normally would. Another reason why television, even when its good, is like a Big Mac for your brain.
I think after 9pm, unless you’re indulging yourself or really have a deadline, everyone should just say no to their computer. The best methods I find to get myself to sleep if I’m feeling anxious are 1. That yoga pose where you put your legs up the wall. 2. A meditation/body scan for ten minutes. 3. Hot herbal tea. Simply reading in bed for a while usually does it, however. If I’m having an incredibly terrible time falling asleep (once every six months) I’ll do a hot toddy.
Truthfully, I have no problem sleeping whatsoever. The waking up is a different story.

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Ellen Scordato

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

Hugh Laurie is always saying, “Let’s go to bed already” – at least in my mind.
I think this depends a lot on yr constitution. I have super regular habits and sleep like a rock, and pretty much always have. Whether I stay our til 2am or pull an all-nighter, I snap back to pattern.
My hubby, on the other hand, lives in exactly the same environment (namely, our apt) and has HORRIBLE sleep patterns and habits. I actually feel bad for him, but at the same time I think that falling asleep with the TV on for years and years has a lot to do with disrupting brain and sleep patterns.
I think sleep hygiene helps, but a lot of it is just your constitution. I know that Ayurvedic medicine is big on good sleep hygiene and habits and has helped some of my friends a lot.
But monks or not, I think it’s inborn. I’ve read of Christian mystics, even in the days before TV, who lived highly regulated patterns of monastic life but still suffered terribly from insommnia.

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Greg Zwahlen

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

Lately I’m all about Melatonin supplements. But I sleep well most of the time anyway. I love sleep.

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Jerry Kolber

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:29 am

This may sound crazy but the way we try to sleep (good eight hours rest) is absolutely NOT how we are meant to sleep. I’ll introduce a weird idea here – “pre industrial sleep”. Prior to the advent of clock-controlled industrial culture and pillowtop featherbeds, it was common and expected that you would sleep for a few hours, and then magically wake around the same time as your animals and friends and family around midnight or 1 am for an hour of talking, singing, smoking, and reflecting on “first sleeps” dream, then back to bed for another four hours or so.
seriously. look it up.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:40 am

I remember reading about that – it is super fascinating. That middle of the night hour must have been surreal.
But I think that was only medieval Europe – I don’t think that was a universal thing. It does goes to show you there are possibilities though.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:44 am

Interesting because my natural sleep patterns are like than. 3 hours here 3 ours there. I sleep like a cat.
Unfortunately I can’t get much done that

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Julia May Jonas

posted March 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

Medieval Europe also did things like draw and quarter and dip your chained feet in saltwater then set goats onto them until they licked the skin away to bones. I endorse pretty much zero things that happened in Medieval Europe, with the exception of Breughel and pointed hats.

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posted March 3, 2009 at 11:48 am

Also things that help you to sleep.
Hot bath/shower. Massage with oil/lotion.
Clean bed sheets. Simple bedroom.
If I can’t sleep.
clean house
home improvement projects

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Ellen Scordato

posted March 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I’m w/you on the nonendorsement of Medieval Europe. But Breughel and pointed hats, yay!
Also those cloths you would wear on yr hair so you didn’t have to wash and blowdry it every damn day.
That alone saved them time for an extra hour of sleep in the morning.

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posted March 4, 2009 at 12:04 pm

sleep has been super weird for me. i used to not sleep more than 4-5 hours. now that i’m in my late 20s, it is absolutely necessary that i get at least 7 or 8 or i can’t function. it’s actually painful, and leads to being…less mindful.
these days, i’m coasting on 10 or 11 hours on my days off. i couldn’t understand why i was passing out so badly on those days. i think its because of yoga, but i thought i had some illness going on.

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Julia May Jonas

posted March 5, 2009 at 11:19 am

Also in Midieval Europe they were probably drinking ale all the time to avoid cholera etc., so the waking in the middle of the night was probably also alcohol related.

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posted March 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm

i remember a study done where they put people down in a large hole with artificial light and allow them to fall into their own natural sleep patterns. turns out we average somewhere between a 24 and 25 hour day. go figure. light cues are fairly important.
if you prefer a 28 hour day:
when i go home to california from new york i always over adjust time zone wise and end up sleeping til 2pm. my dad claims i’ve adjusted to hawaiian time just fine:
and just one more on insomnia:
(alt text is particularly good on that one)

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posted March 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Actually, not just medieval Europe. Non-industralised nations today still have poly-phasic sleep. We, first-worlders, have been acclimatised to just one 6-8 hour chunk of sleep and worry if we can’t achieve this! In fact, we consider medication if this ideal isn’t met. Consider the technology: we have cheap access to light to allow us to extend our ‘days’ and they had to pay, comparatively, more simply for a candle. They may have worked much harder physically and with less calories than us and so going to bed early simply to recuperate would have been a sensible option ( we have easy, cheap access to transport and labour-saving devices – no comparisoneh? They walked 5-15 miles to work, we drive 2 miles LOL).
It would take a lot of nerve/commitment to change to that lifestyle. Could be a book in it for anyone out there who’s looking for a change – please feel free to add me in the Acknowledgements page – steviebouy2000 yahoo com heheheh.
Don’t forget they may have experienced a richer life by being able to access and acklowledge their REM sleepat a greater level than us. We only, usually, pick up the remnants of the night’s dreams; they could pick up several depending on whether they had bi-phasic, poly-phasic dream waking periods… and what of melatonin production, steroid production with this mode of sleep/wake … so interesting!

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