Thoughts fill the silence of the night

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Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant

It’s said that silence is one of the great arts of conversation.

Yet it’s usually when silence occurs that I feel like that conversation is one way.

Late at night, when work is done, the kids are asleep and everything is turned off, I often lie in bed, listening to my own thoughts.

The silence is nice – no TVs or phones, no kids running down the hallway screaming, no everyday noises.

No chaos.

Yet while the everyday sounds of life take a respite, the chaos is just beginning in the place where only one person can hear the conversation.

Did I pay that bill? Did I turn in that school form? What do we need at the grocery store? What do I have to get done tomorrow?

During the day when these questions go through your mind, they often get drowned out by everything else you hear.

If you just stop for a minute, you’d be amazed at all of the sounds you can hear – a dog barking in the distance, an airplane flying thousands of feet above, the TV in the next room over, a child bouncing a basketball next door, a couple of birds having their own conversation outside your window.

As I write this, my furnace has kicked on, providing a low humming noise from air being blown upward from floor ducts. This falls just short of drowning out the noise of my snoring dog who is sleeping at my feet.

At night, most of these sounds have disappeared temporarily until the sun rises the next day, leaving silence – and a void that only can be filled with once distant thoughts or sleep.

It’s not that I don’t try to shut off my brain at this point in the evening. In fact, there’s more than a handful of tricks you can do to speed up falling asleep – everything from turning off electronics an hour before bedtime to reading, breathing exercises and chamomile tea.

I recently read that purging your brain of the day’s worries can help “overthinking” at night. You can do this by keeping a journal or even jotting down a plan for the next day so there’s no need for making mental notes into the night.

I also heard a sleep specialist say once that being anxious about not sleeping is part of the problem, and that worrying about sleep is not a good way to get sleep.

If you’re like me and have trouble shutting off your brain at night, the National Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org) offers several techniques, even tailoring them to certain segments of the population that include children, travelers and those with diagnosed sleep disorders.

Under the “sleep topics” tab, there’s even a “bedroom environment” link that shows you how to use all your senses to find the perfect sleeping environment.

From one night owl hoping to turn into an early bird, sweet dreams.

Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer and columnist.

1 COMMENT

  1. how interesting is this essay. I liked it; I agreed with the writer’s way of thinking, while listening to “house” sounds in the night. I find it restful to just “listen, without hearing anything”. thanks Christine

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