Sleeping in troubled times

While adequate sleep is critical to good health and longevity, sleep deprivation is currently on the rise.

  • Wednesday, November 28, 2018 8:30am
  • Life
Diane Gillespie. Photo courtesy of Diane Gillespie

Diane Gillespie. Photo courtesy of Diane Gillespie

By Diane Gillespie

Special to the Reporter

“This political climate is ruining my sleep,” a friend lamented.

In a new survey sponsored by Bankrate, researchers found 69 percent of Americans have difficulty sleeping because they worry and politics is increasingly one of the topics that keeps people tossing and turning. Sleep deprivation is on the rise at the very time that researchers are discovering the ways that adequate sleep is critical to good health and longevity.

As someone challenged by sleep myself, I worry firsthand about the ill effects of being sleep deprived. And when I tell people about my new book, “Stories for Getting Back to Sleep,” they want to share their sleep struggles. They want real talk and suggestions, not just “ain’t-it-awful” complaining that constitutes our socially acceptable script about not sleeping enough.

When I began the book three years ago, I had no idea that so many people, like me, were not sleeping or were taking sleep medications. The book was borne out of some soothing stories — scenarios really — that I first imagined after I read about the dangers of sleep medications in a study by Group Health and the University of Washington called the Adult Thought Study. Realizing that I needed more natural sleep, I found that the scenarios helped me fall back to sleep when I woke in the middle of the night and I started to write them down for others.

In exploring further, I discovered that the hazards of sleep deprivation had become the focus of a national conversation. Arianna Huffington left the Huffington Post to pursue Thrive Global and publish “The Sleep Revolution” (2016), which describes our culture as toxic to sleep. Neuroscientist Matthew Walker’s book “Why We Sleep” (2017) explains the dire consequences of sleep deprivation and sleep medications.

It’s no wonder the medications are so popular. People need sleep, but pills are deceptive because the sleep is not natural. At some level we all know from experience that natural sleep is what we need to be at our best, our most humane and creative.

As a sleep advocate, I promote strategies that lead to natural and abundant sleep. Chief among them is cognitive behavior therapy, a method in psychology that helps people align their goals and behavior by thinking anew about their thinking.

My book helps us change the narratives we tell ourselves in the middle of the night. We can re-author those stories of desperation and woe and replace them with ones that allow us to sink deeper and deeper into restfulness and sleep. We then awaken refreshed and more ready to take on these troubling political times.

Diane Gillespie is a professor emerita at the University of Washington Bothell and will be reading from her book, “Stories for Getting Back to Sleep,” at 4 p.m. on Dec. 1 at The Book Tree, 609 Market St in Kirkland. All proceeds from the book go to Tostan, a nonprofit with the mission of empowering African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights.

More in Life

Redmond Performing Arts Center to host Woodinville Community Band

The group’s “Winds of Change” concert is set for May 19.

Redmond Historical Society examines ships’ cats at next speaker series event

Ships’ cats were an integral part of many sailors’ everyday lives.

Tesla STEM students partnered with NAMI Eastside to plan the 2019 Youth Mental Health Conference. Courtesy photo
Tesla STEM students partner with NAMI Eastside for mental health conference

NAMI Eastside Youth Mental Health Conference will held May 4.

Indian film produced in Seattle to show this weekend

“Vellai Pookal” will show on April 19 at the Lincoln Square Cinema.

Seen at the Day Out for Autism event was the Wang family. The Wang family walked for Yikuan Li (green jacket), 17. Stephanie Quiroz/staff photo
Day Out for Autism comes to Redmond for the first time

Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy hosts 6th annual event.

Sophia Gonzalez of ICS was the 151st Coca Cola Scholar at this year’s Scholar’s Banquet in Atlanta, GA. Courtesy photo
Two LWSD students receive $20,000 Coca Cola scholarships

Sarah Raza (RHS) and Sophia Gonzalez (ICS) were selected for their community service work.

Honeywell sponsored 292 from 41 countries and 27 states to participate in the HCLA at the USSRC. Photo courtesy of HCLA.
Bellevue and Redmond students participate in Space Camp program

Atharva Ladha of Redmond and Chloe Fong of Bellevue share their experiences with the HCLA at the USSRC.

Take ‘eating clean’ to a whole new level

Avoid foods made with chemicals, support natural detox.

RHS jazz band rehearses for their upcoming performance at Carnegie Hall. Saxophones from left: Yotam Snir, Jackson Graves, Noah Barr, Emma Johnson, Ryan York. Trombones from left: Matthew Ovanesyan, Andrew Shi, Trevor Michalski, Jonathan McCrady. Trumpets from left: Rafael de Ocampo, Martin Shi, Shane Melrose. Conductor: Any Robertson. Madison Miller/staff photo
Redmond high musicians invited back to Carnegie Hall

The groups have been invited to return to the Ensemble Spotlight Series on April 21.

Most Read