Doing This One Thing Greatly Improves a Senior’s Sleep Cycle
I had read all the Medium articles about sleep improvement, but none of them worked. One night, I hit upon a method that has resulted in a much greater night’s sleep…and it was so simple!
The reason I didn’t think of this sooner was that the offending element actually helped me drift off to sleep in the first place, and so I never realized how damaging it could be later at night. That, coupled with various bouts of nocturia (a rather complex thing as you shall see) were complicating an ordinarily good night’s sleep. After reading various things in the news about the importance of good sleep (especially for seniors, which may forestall dementia, maintain healthy weight and a healthy immune system), I decided to experiment with different sleep enhancement methods.
Would Melatonin help? CBD? Ibuprofen? Actually, each of these seemed to help a little (especially Ibuprofen…I’ll get to that later) but I didn’t want to be dependent on supplements or drugs. I tried upping my exercise routine, but that made me more likely to take a nap, which took away from my sleep at night. What was it that I needed? White noise? A humidifier? Now I realized I was getting into the New Age “sleep weird” element that couldn’t be right, as it was not available to our ancestors. It must be something natural I’m missing, right?
About the same time, my Medium writing career was stalled, and I started noticing that well-researched articles such as “mRNA Fears Recall Smallpox Vaccination Scare in 1721” were not doing nearly as well as a plethora of other authors’ “Doing This One Thing May Cure Alzheimer’s” (punchline usually turning out to be lotsa sleep), or the like. Was I missing something? In addition to not figuring out something about sleep, was I also a numb-nut when it came to the rationality of a Medium article?
It was at this point that I began to look inward…what was really going on? I realized two things, first that I actually did sleep pretty well aside from frequent nightly interruptions, and that I was a good writer but not reaching enough audience. This caused me to go over my nightly routine, item by item, while at the same time trying to create a boffo conclusion that would capture the attention of 75% of Medium readers. I hit on this one thing, began to analyze it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was the answer to all my problems (sleep and otherwise). It was simple, and I began wondering why I had never thought about it previously. It was organic, and possibly the key to a long-life well into my 90s, free of disease and possibly associated with frequent sex. The solution was…
Throwing the damn cat out of my bed in the middle of the night so I could get up and have a long pee.
There. I said it. Now you too can go on to live a long and healthy life. But don’t thank me, thank my cat and all cats everywhere. With some self-analysis, I noticed that my sleep vis-à-vis cat was a two-fold thing. First, he helped me FALL asleep, with his warm curling up next to my legs and purring (a sort of natural “white-noise” machine?). But this turned out to be a sleep-aid of diminishing returns, as through the night he (and I) changed sleep positions often, with him taking time-outs to snack, visit his cat-box (or occasionally catch a rodent). In addition, around 3 am he had a tendency to waltz, beguine, or rhumba across my bed, and sometimes sharpen his nails on my sheets in an apparent attempt to mess with me. As the night wore on, I had various urges to get up, but didn’t for fear of offending said cat (though he didn’t really give me the same courtesy). I started to learn that he was a rather selfish cat, using me to help HIM sleep (in addition to the other concierge services I provided) while not really giving a damn how I SLEPT! I also started to learn that he was relatively calm for about 5 hours, after which his primal hunting urges took hold, and compelled him to attack my exposed, resting hand. Under the guise of refilling his food dish (a sort of kitty-porn for him, as it entertains him even when the dish is already full), I went into the kitchen, rattled the food bag, then ran back to the bedroom and shut the door. Next I emptied my bladder as completely as possible (no small feat for a 66 year old man).
I should say that the bladder emptying part is just as important as the cat removal component. To get to the point where I only have to get up this once to pee has some precursors. First, one Ibuprofen before bed, each night, works wonders (the Doc says I have BPS, or Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, so I’m guessing that NSAIDs decrease this glandular stranglehold on my bladder). But taking Ibuprofen every night has diminishing returns, plus I suppose too much might later mess up my stomach, kidneys, and liver, with ringing in my already messed up inner ears. Exercise has an effect similar to Ibu, especially if it is prolonged. After an 8-hr High Sierra hike for instance, I don’t have to get up to pee at all (nor worry about the cat, who is safely 200 miles away).
But before I bore you about my nocturnal urinary habits, I will bore you with some other things: 1) Sildenafil for an old guy really helps one pee at night, along with a supposed protection against dementia and…uh…other well-advertised matters. Apparently, the resultant Nitric Oxide rush opens up all those bogged-up blood vessels and lets her rip 2) Somehow, lying down after standing up makes fluids rush from your extremities (also called “legs”) to your bladder, while your body has activated the “off” valve for your urethra for the night. It’s hell sometimes getting the valve “on” again in the middle of the night, unless I walk around a bit (faking my cat into thinking I’m feeding him at 3 am usually does the trick) 3) I suppose not drinking coffee or even tea after 1 pm is good advice, but not so clear is the 8 glasses of water we are supposed to drink every day. Recent studies show that about half that is ok (more and my prostate will be holding back the Aswan Dam), and for me its one beverage at dinner (around 5 pm) and nothing after, or even putting the cat out won’t help.
There are other complicating issues, such as my ongoing bouts with constipation or my cat wanting to claw up the carpet in front of my bedroom door (in an attempt to get back in my comfy bed). There’s also the importance of sleep position, and my cat sometimes wanting to bring a mouse or cricket into my bed at 2 am as an apparent inducement to let him stay. But all these are peripheral to the main thrust of this Medium story which I’ve fooled you into reading, “kick the cat out, get up and pee if you want a good night’s sleep if you don’t want dementia”.
Doctors would probably go into a detailed explanation about how I should stop blaming the cat and blame my prostate instead (which might lead to some kind of prostate hacking that would surely destroy what’s left of my sex life). I’ve learned to fool the Doctors by getting my PSA tested at interludes well after sex (interludes of which you’ve probably learned by now are most of the time) as sex gets my prostate angry while saying “just for that, I’m going to elevate your PSA and prevent you from peeing!”. I have to tame this angry, wild prostate with doses of Ibu and Sildenafil to get it back into its cage. My cat seems indifferent to my urinary problems, or even my infrequent tumbles in the hay. He seems to move aside thinking “Ok, I get it, he’s an animal like me and he does what he has to do, but just remember that I’ll get the last laugh as I’m about to lock you up for a shitty night’s sleep”