Sleep…elusive?…Are we willing to change?…

These are so beautiful.

For those lucky people whose head hits the pillow for a straight seven or eight hours of blissful sleep, this post is not for you.

Please read on for the rest of us who thrash and turn fitful most nights, awakening many times, often sleeping no more than four to six hours or even less.

Note the moth or butterfly on the flower in the center of the photo.

Sleeping well became an issue for me many moons ago. In the days when I used to drink alcohol, a few glasses of red wine could easily put me to sleep but cause me to bolt awake during the night, heart racing, unable to sleep. 

When I decided to stop drinking all alcohol quite some time ago for health reasons, I was left with a bad habit, an inability to sleep through the night without waking numerous times or, in more recent years, awakening too early in the morning. 

I believe this is a papaya tree growing in the yard.

Knowing I’ll feel exhausted if I arise at 4:00 am, I struggle to fall back to sleep, if only for an additional hour. On occasion, I do fall back to sleep, but only after I’ve read a book on my phone for an hour or so.

Tom has been plagued with a similar issue, awakening around 4:00 am. He hasn’t had a drink since our last cruise ended on June 11th, when he’s been unable to find his favorite at any of the stores. Thus, our current sleep issues have nothing to do with a few cocktails, which can easily impede good sleep.

These red flowers with a white bloom appear to be in the poinsettia family.

We’ve read considerable information about poor sleeping habits, referred to as “sleep hygiene.” Give me a break! It’s hard to relate to sleep as hygiene! But, we can relate to sleep as a habit, one that we do have the power to change if we’re willing to go through the necessary steps repeatedly. 

Sleep “Hygiene” Tips

The promotion of regular sleep is known as sleep hygiene. The following is a list of sleep hygiene tips that can be used to improve sleep.

The CDC and the National Sleep Foundation recommendations:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, dark, and relaxing environment, neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable and use it only for sleeping and not other activities, such as reading, watching TV, or listening to music. Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.

This is not to say we believe everything we read online. However, the above mantra is repeated time and again.

Looking up the names of plants and flowers uses lots of data. Thus, many of the plants and flowers we post remain nameless for now.

Item #5 is missing from the above: No overthinking and worrying in bed.

One of the most significant factors for us in our travels is the lack of a comfortable bed and bedding. Overall, most vacation homes don’t have comfortable beds. Plus, it’s hard not to think that other people have slept in this bed over often years and used this same bedding pulled close to their heads and faces.

These same thoughts can plague us when staying in hotels, where in many cases, many more travelers have slept in that bed and used that bedding than in a vacation home. Most of us try to avoid thinking about this reality by assuming that everything is washed and clean. We’ve had to let such thoughts waft away long ago.

These plants are often found in tropical climates.

Now in Fiji, the bed is outrageously uncomfortable. It’s a single odd-shaped mattress with little padding, lots of springs, all sitting atop a wood futon-type bed frame. The bedding doesn’t fit properly, causing it to bunch during the night. Of course, we’re very grateful that Mario immediately replaced the mattress when it was infested with ants on which we slept the first night.

In the village, we don’t see any household goods or bedding stores. The owners of vacation homes in more remote locations such as this make do with what’s available locally. We appreciate what we have. After all, we live in a sleepy little village on a relatively low population island in the middle of the ocean, far removed from many conveniences.

Then again, we never slept well in Kauai, where we had the best bed and bedding of any vacation home in our travels. The roosters awoke Tom each day, and I couldn’t wait to get up to see “Birdie” and his wife stop by for a song and a visit, nuts provided.

These gorgeous red flowers are growing in the shade beneath our veranda overhang.

Poor sleep is all about us. If exhausted enough, they can sleep in a chair, on the floor, or in an airplane.  It’s the tricks our minds play on us that generally keep us awake, and although we don’t worry and overthink our lives while in bed, we do think about one thing, why we aren’t sleeping?

In itself, it’s this contemplation about lack of sleep that becomes the nemesis, the driving force behind the middle-of-the-night angst and discomfort, noticing every bunched bottom sheet, every stabbing spring in the mattress, every sound in the background. It’s us. Entirely.

Are we willing to make the necessary changes to break the bad habit? For both of us, it’s the reading on our phones when we’re in bed and avoiding thoughts about our inability to sleep. I’ve tried several nights to no avail, surely not trying long enough to affect a change. We aren’t “willing” to do the work. 

Bananas continue to thrive in the rains.

We’re entirely “capable” of making the necessary changes. With all of the adaptation, we must exercise in each new country. We don’t seem to have the “willingness” to do what is necessary in this regard, such as stop reading books on our phones while in bed and stop thinking about “not sleeping.”

For many of us, it’s not unlike going on a diet to lose weight. We’re capable. We aren’t willing.

Photo from one year ago, October 18, 2014:

A Hawaiian Tree Snail, the size of the palm of a hand, was attached to a wall by the pool in the condo in Maui. For more details as we settled into our new home, please click here.