DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!


Oct 14 2016

Knitting up the Ravelled Sleeve

by Dea Anne M


(Time of day – about 8:00 p.m.)

“No. You can’t stay up another 10 minutes. Bedtime is bedtime. Get your pajamas on and get your teeth brushed.”

“Yes. You can have a glass of water and then I want to see that light go out.”

“No, there isn’t a werewolf living in your closet. Now, go to sleep…”

“…and be sure you close your eyes. It’s already 5 minutes past your bedtime and tomorrow is a school day.”

This was a fairly standard scenario at my house when my brother and I were very young. Our family pod wasn’t particularly rigid or strict, as I recall, but both of my parents (especially my father) were very invested in making sure that we children got our required amount of sleep. They were young parents and maybe they were nervous about doing  everything right. Now, if we go forward in time several years, my younger sisters are about the same age as my brother and I in the scene above and the following would be part of a typical evening spent getting them to bed.

(One weary parent or another is shutting the door to the bedroom. The time? 8:30 p.m., 9:00, 10:00, 11:00? Who knows?)

“Yes, you can have the light on.” ”

“No, you don’t have to go to sleep right away.”

“Yes, you can play with the Legos but keep it quiet and don’t come out.”

Oldest children (and some of those in the middle) will sometimes complain that the youngest “Had it so easy.” I think that parents don’t shrug their shoulders and just give up – I think that they just decide that certain things (“Try not to break any bones if you can help it and leave the cat alone.”) are more important than some others (“You know we have broccoli at least once a week. Okay, just one little bite, okay?”) when it comes to raising children.

But this isn’t a post about child rearing or sibling order. This isn’t a post about the importance of family meal times either. This is a post about…sleep. When I was a kid, it wasn’t so much that I minded sleeping as it was all the exciting things that happened after 9:00 p.m. (or so I imagined). In later years, studying or just having fun often seemed more important than getting to bed at a reasonable hour. Night owl habits can be hard to break, but I think that I’m finally becoming someone who appreciates the early hours which, cliche or not, really are the best part of the day. I don’t seem to know that many people anymore who brag about how little sleep they’re getting and, in fact, more seem to complain about restless nights or noisy neighbors. Clearly, sleep is important for everyone, regardless of age, and getting enough of it can benefit everything from memory to weight loss.

But how do we get the sleep that we need in this stressed-out, always connected culture that we inhabit? If you aren’t naturally what my grandmother would have called a “good sleeper” or you’re just interested in the always intriguing subject of sleep,  then DCPL might have resources to help. Consider these:

The always lively, often controversial, Arianna Huffington’s latest book is Sleep Revolution: transforming your life , one night at a time. If that subtitle gives you pause, you may be interested to know that Huffington experienced a revolutionsleep revelation of sorts when she collapsed several years ago due to exhaustion. Since then, she has made it a mission to get good sleep – and to make sure that you get it too. In spite of that, this isn’t so much a how-to book as it is a look at the latest science on sleep. Huffington covers everything from the deceptions practiced by the sleeping pill industry to how artificial light (including that from our devices) effects our sleep. There’s also a discussion of how parents can have productive conversations with children about sleep and “model” the type of sleep behavior that they would like to see. Hmmm….so maybe I would have happily gone to bed at my assigned time if everyone else hadn’t seemed to be having so much fun?

Do you feel that you aren’t getting the quality sleep that you need at night and does that have an impact on your soundlywaking hours? If so, you might check out Robert S. Rosenberg’s Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: a doctor’s guide to solving your sleep problems.  There’s lots of useful information here as well as a few tidbits that might surprise you. Did you know that a blue room is the most conducive to slumber? On the other hand, the “blue light” created by televisions, smart phones and computers can disrupt your melatonin production thus leading to a restless night. Which might mean that your bedside table should hold print books and an old school alarm clock instead of devices. I mean, once you finish painting the walls.

All living things seem to require a certain amount of sleep (or its equivalent) but sleep itself, and what really happenslife during it, remains in many ways a mystery. If you’ve always been curious about what sleep means in a cultural context be sure to check out The Secret Life of Sleep by Kat Duff. Duff explores the meaning of sleep, both in its physiological aspects as well as its social significance. Along the way, you’ll discover some interesting facts. Did you know, for example, that before the widespread use of electric lighting, people really did go to bed and arise with the sun but most people woke up for a lengthy period of time in between during which they would do some chores, pray or read. Fascinating stuff!

I’ve come a long way from the would be night owl, feet dragging to bed habits of before. These days I go to bed happily, dare I say eagerly, and, for the most part, I sleep well. How about you? Are you an early riser or do you come alive in the late hours? Most importantly, do you get enough sleep?


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Nov 4 2011

Dreaming of Reading

by Patricia D

When I was a kid long car trips looked like this: whoever was the baby at the time was in the front seat between our parents, the rest of us were crammed into the back, playing the classic “I’m not touching you” game.  Once everyone was asleep, I would lean forward, hanging over the bench seat in front of me to talk to my dad.  He drove like a man on a mission, chain smoking his way down the two lane roads to our destination, searching for a new AM station as necessary.  My Mom?  Always, always, sound asleep on the other side of the front seat, arm around the baby, head cushioned from the window by a pillow, a book open in her lap.  If you’re trying to date this little story let me spell out the clues for you: no interstate or FM radio, a little second hand smoke wasn’t going to hurt anyone and the unrestrained baby in the front seat was in the safest spot in the car.  If you’ve picked any point in the sixties you win.

My siblings and I supposed, in our gender specific world, that daddies drove cars and mommies slept in them.  I realized, as a grown up, that my mother didn’t necessarily intend to sleep in the car (note the presence of an open book in her lap) but as soon as she got a break from looking after a big family she simply passed out, her much anticipated reading time blotted out by fatigue.  I realized this because I’m a mommy who frequently wakes up face first in a book.

As I read to Junior at 7:00 p.m. I rock.  We did Because of Winn-Dixie because of we watched the movie, so now we’re working our way through the Tale of Desperaux.  My reading is expressive while my English major brain marvels at the structure and the symbolism DiCammillo has packed into a pretty good story.  We stop and talk about the story, and best of all, Junior is so taken with this book that she hides it under her pillow so I can’t ” accidentally” return it before we finish (I’m not proud of this but I just couldn’t read another Junie B. Jones.)

7:00 p.m. is great, but 10:00 p.m., now that’s a different story entirely.  I have learned that I need something light and easy because I’m so tired I just can’t focus for long.  The Hemingses of Monticello have done me in, I gave up on Minders of Make-believe and please don’t ask me about Cleopatra: A Life—I’m betting she dies but I still don’t really know how.  Christopher Hitchens’ new collection is nice because it’s lots of short essays, but mostly I fall back on old favorites—the King of Attolia and its companion books, the Grand Sophy, anything by Christopher Moore—and cookbooks.  The good folks at America’s Test Kitchen provide wonderful bedtime reading because each recipe comes with a little story.  Mastering the Art of French Cooking reads better than you’d think and of course my crush Jacques Pepin always has something new to read.  Books about cooking are okay too.  I’ve just  finished Kathleen Flinn’s The Sharper your Knife the Less you Cry.  It was perfect—short chapters, little life lessons and it left me dreaming of butter, pastry and crispy duck skin.


Sep 8 2010

Catching some zzzz’s..or maybe not

by Dea Anne M

Do you get enough sleep? Far from being a luxury for those without busy schedules (nobody I know) or something to catch up on during the weekend, sleep is a daily necessity and, according to the CDC a “vital sign” of good health. Experts now say that 7 hours a night is optimum for adults and I know that this is what I aim for yet don’t always achieve.  Well, I’ve yet to fall asleep at work so Morpheus and I must be on pretty good terms. In  the meantime, DCPL has resources for both the sleep deprived and the sleep curious alike.

If you need help learning how to get to sleep, check out:

Insomnia: 50 Essential things to do by Theresa Foy DiGeronimo with Frank Di Maria.  Or…

The Harvard Medical School guide to a good night’s sleep by Lawrence J. Epstein with Steven Mardon.

[read the rest of this post…]

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