When it comes to sleeping, I can do just so much of it

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I write things down all the time to make sure they get done, and I don’t forget them. I make notes to myself, and when the task is completed, I cross them off.

I do it with a Sharpie and make a nice, neat line across the words, taking some pride in the task’s successful completion.

This mental safety net is extra useful in newspaper production. I do dozens of different things at once as I piece together each weekly jigsaw puzzle. I learned the hard way, when a bunch of ads failed to make it on a page after I moved things around. The more a mistake costs, the faster I learn.

Several days ago, late at night, I wrote the word “sleep” on a piece of paper. It was a column idea, and I was certain that this one word would jolt my memory about the topic I planned to present to our readers in the coming weeks.

Well, when I looked at it on my column writing day, the word meant nothing. I have no idea what the significance of the word was, nor the topics I planned to cover.

This comes with old age, you say? Not exactly. I have been doing it ever since I can remember, even in my younger days. That’s why I make lists all the time. It also comes in handy when shopping, although that list tends to grow after entering the store.

Sleep could mean that I was tired and needed sleep. I may have written it down half asleep, in which case, it meant that I was falling asleep. That would not help, and the column idea, whatever it was, would be lost until it came back to me. I’ll write it down again, this time using more than one word.

Since we’re on the topic of sleeping, I have noticed that the older I get, the earlier I wake up in the morning. Never being much of a sleeper, I have not been too concerned about it, just enough to get on the Internet machine and look up some topics on aging and sleeping.

“Interestingly, older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults – seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, many older adults often get less sleep than they need. One reason is that they often have more trouble falling asleep,” I read at sleepeducation.org.

It seems that I have been sleep-deprived all my adult life. It’s seldom that I sleep seven to nine hours. There would have to be a reason for it, like not feeling well, or being very tired because I went to the gym and actually exercised, things like that.

Some in my family can sleep for a very long time, much longer than seven to nine hours. For me, there is too much to do and see to sleep away any part of the day.

I also can’t sleep on planes nor in a car at rest areas. On a long trip many years ago, I could feel myself nodding off while driving and pulled into a very nice and safe rest area to snooze for a while.

I sat there and tried to drift off to sleep, but couldn’t. Then I got back on the road and started nodding off again. The solution should have been getting a room and going to sleep, but this was in Europe, and I had to catch a flight.

I stopped at a convenience store on the Autobahn and bought a small bottle of caffeine pills. I went from tired to wired. I got to the airport in plenty of time for my flight, on which I could not sleep.

But it was relaxing just to sit there while the plane was doing all the work.

I was much younger back then and would plan a trip today more carefully. But when you’re young, you think you’re on top of the world. I was, sort of, at 30,000 feet, but could not go to sleep.

Because flying is too exciting. There are clouds all over and blue sky, and the jet engines make all kind of noises that I have to monitor to make sure they are working properly. Then flight attendants are going up and down the aisle, bringing drinks and food. Don’t forget the movies and talking with the people sitting next to you.

We talked about everything, landed, deplaned and never saw each other again. Why do we deplane when we don’t decar or detaxi? Asking for a friend.

“Sleep.” The notation still means nothing. But when it does, it will make for a good column.

Email John at john.bulletin@gmail.com.