Fresh Ideas and the People Who Bring Them to Life
Fresh Idea #2: A Book Guaranteed to Put You to Sleep
Hopefully, you recall your mother, or father, whispering you toward dreamland. “Hush,” she or he would say, but that was a while ago when sleep came more easily than it might now. Because so many Americans have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, sleep has become a commodity. The NIH estimates that 60 to 70 million American adults struggle with insomnia, and despite the fact that substantial research suggests sleeping pills are of limited effectiveness and pose significant health risks, 56 million prescriptions grossing $1.5 billion are written for them each year.
As author Dr. Rubin Naiman urges in his introduction to Hush, it’s time we took sleep back from the medical and pharmaceutical world. That’s a big mission, and this small book immediately helps with this reclamation. Yes, Dr. Naiman offers lots of facts and suggestions, but Hush is not a clinical manifesto but a collection of contemplations to be read at bedtime—and that’s the quiet genius of Hush.
When do we fret most about not sleeping? The moment we lean against our pillow thinking there’s something wrong with us if we can’t sleep. Hush is the perfect antidote to that habitual fearful orbit created by the mind that “can’t” be turned off, by that chattering inner roommate who keeps us up and wakes us up. Dr. Naiman intends for us to read his book of 100 prescriptive contemplations at bedtime. The always pertinent, sometimes quirky, prescriptions are delivered in a calm, reassuring voice that all these years later stands in for a parent’s soothing “hush.”
The prescriptions take the form of a sentence-long statement followed by a short elucidating paragraph. Here are a few of the topic sentences:
• Where do we go when we go to sleep?
• Our nightstands are a clear reflection of our stance toward night.
• Napping is seditious and subversive. Do it.
Here’s one of the prescriptions in its entirety:
• Consider flirting with sleep before getting into bed with it.
Just as we can more readily sense gravity when we push against it, sleep becomes more palpable when we momentarily resist it. Feel around for and slowly lean into your sleepiness. Gently press against it and feel its soft but firm push back. Let it meet and hold you like a large cushion or a bed. Playfully resist the growing heaviness of your eyelids and your head. And then let go.
Here’s one of my favorite suggestions:
• Write about your day as if it were a dream.
Note: My friend and client, Rubin Naiman, PhD, is a leader in the development of integrative approaches to sleep and dreams, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, and author of groundbreaking works on sleep and dreams. Learn more about Dr. Naiman and sleep at http://www.drnaiman.com.