by Rachel Hott, PhD
As an ongoing project for the Institute for the Advanced Studies of Health (IASH). I am interviewing individuals about their strategies for sleep. Janet Goldman (janetgoldman.myarbonne.com) volunteered to be interviewed as she described herself as someone who sleeps easily, actually she is someone who, “ sleeps through a lot of things.” We met on November 20, 2009 and had a one-hour meeting. Janet began by explaining that she likes to get a good night sleep. On the average she will sleep for seven hours. She does not do well is she gets six hours. If she only gets six hours she will be lethargic throughout the day. She tends to sleep without an alarm, unless she has to get up at 3a.m. to catch a flight. Her belief is that it’s healthy to get a good night sleep. “I always, even while growing up, had to get between seven-eight hours sleep.” Since she was seven years old she can remember pleasant and deep sleeps (although with very strange and detailed dreams). Sleep is important to her, and it is clear that she has an identity as someone who sleeps well. She finds going to bed to be, soothing, rejuvenating and enjoyable. She likes the energy that she gets from a seven-hour sleep. She believes that her sleep helps her detox from the day and helps her rejuvenate. She likes the energy she gets from a good night sleep. She likes her own time and shutting out the world. She values how positive she feels when she does get enough sleep. It is her own time, “ My own time.”
She described that she thinks about sleep during the course of the evening. She asks herself, “What time am I going to bed?” Depending upon her energy she may stay up. However she claims that she is not a night owl. She likes to get into her “shlub wear,” get her cats settled in bed with her, think for a while on her back and then turn to her right side and within five minutes she is asleep. If she is not particularly tired she will read for fifteen-twenty minutes and then turn the lights off and fall quickly to sleep.
If she is with a friend or in a different environment she still knows her own cut off time. She knows what she is tired because she will feel herself becoming “heavy.” This heaviness begins around her face and then to her eyes. Sometimes she can feel herself being so tired in the day and she will give herself a mid-afternoon nap for ten-fifteen minutes. She says to herself, “I need to sleep.,” and then she gives herself a short power nap.
One times she was celebrating a friend’s birthday so although her cut off time was signaled she chose to be with her friend. Then she just accepts that she will be sleeping later and says, “sleep will wait it is not a big deal. “ However she still made sure that she was very comfortable with a cup of herbal tea, and was once again in her “shlub wear.”
Janet knows that she can sleep through anything, thunderstorms, car alarms, loud music, bright lights, etc. However she doesn’t know how she does this. She just knows that when someone will say, “ Did you hear the crazy neighbor, etc.” She will say, “ No I didn’t hear it.” She thinks that she is a heavy dreamer.
If she doesn’t get sleep, for example traveling and dealing with jet lag she becomes very anxious. Just the idea of sleep deprivation gives her the shakes. Every once in a while she will have difficulty sleeping if she is under a lot of stress. If that is occurring she will focus on her breathing that will help. “I love sleep. If I stay up past 11:30pm I feel like such a rebel ” she says with a laugh. She is also a morning person.
Overall her motivation for going to sleep is the extreme pleasure that she feels. She likes getting into bed, taking a deep breath, feeling the pillow (sometimes using a body pillow), enjoying the clean sheets and even the smell of her bed. She says the bed experience is soothing and comfortable.
If she does wake up too early she will easily go back to sleep. She tells herself, “ I want to go back to sleep, or It is not time to get up yet.” She is typically aware of time and will ask herself, “What needs to be done?” Overall what is most important is that she feels comfortable when she goes to sleep, and energized when she wakes up.