How I conquered insomnia and reversed a lifetime of miserable sleep.

I wrote this on a friend’s FB because they mentioned they were struggling with insomnia and I realized it was a LOT– so I thought it might be good to post somewhere else in case it could help anyone else. I know it doesn’t have anything to do with politics or libraries, but this is my little digital garden and I’m just gonna post about whatever I feel like. πŸ™‚

I struggled with terrible insomnia my whole life until about a year ago. Finally, I have conquered it. It took determination and consistency, but I went from sleeping an average of 3-6 hours a night for 48 years, to now I’ve slept 7.5 hours a night for the past year.

All the steps it took:

I take Magnesium and Glycine every night. I take Melatonin sporadically, I don’t want my body to not make it for itself so I keep it to a minimum.

I go to bed. I don’t wait to feel exhausted, I trained myself to associate bedtime with going to bed. I keep a fairly consistent bedtime. But I definitely get up at almost the same time every day- 7 days a week.

I stop using any screens for about 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime. I read an actual book or eBook on a Nook that isn’t an LCD screen. But it’s deep literature or non-fiction, it’s not a newspaper or magazine.

I lower the temp of the room and myself by about 5 degrees. I open a window and/or run a fan for white noise.

I have no TV in my room and I have orange, dimmed lighting that I use as I get close to bedtime. I use the bed for only sleep (and snuggles).

I don’t know if this helps or not, but i use a sleep tracker app to track my sleep and add notes for what of these habits I’ve made sure to do for the day. I also use the “smart alarm” feature to wake up when I’m not in my deepest sleep.

I don’t do it as consistently, but journaling also helps. Even if I don’t journal– if there’s something on my mind or that I need to remember, I definitely make sure to write it down so I can put it out of my mind.

I don’t meditate too much, but sometimes I do a little breathing exercise before I lay down.

I do try to make sure I get sunshine on my face for at least 15 minutes a day. Best if earlier in the day, of course.

Like I said, it wasn’t until I really buckled down and combined all of the recommendations consistently did things change for me. I had tried each of them kind of half-heartedly a few times but then I pledged to myself I was going to make good sleep a priority and put them all together.
Prior to that I would consider a 5-6 hour night a “good night”. I tried all kinds of different sleeping pills, benzos, etc. I was miserable about sleep from age 12 or so until 48, so I don’t know if this will work for everyone, but I was as bad a sleeper as you could be!

Reimagining Online Public Spaces

Listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, “On the Media“, I was introduced to the New Public Project, “which describes itself as “New_ Public is a place for thinkers, builders, designers and technologists like you to meet, share inspiration, and make better digital public spaces.” Much of the work builds on what planners have observed in offline urban settings to support community. Their work has included a framework for evaluating platforms for their “public friendliness”. They identify key “signals” described as “elements… that recur in flourishing public spaces.” I encourage you to check out the slideshow of their research overview or their interactive experience for a good introduction.
I am intrigued, and I’m just starting to read and learn more. If you want a quick submersion into work that is trying to build upon these ideas, they’ve just held an online New Public Festival, which you can explore either through the tweets posted during the festival, or through this issue of their newsletter that describes “Five Rousing Calls to Action” highlighted during the festival.

Of course, I have a favorite idea that Eli Pariser brought up on the aforementioned podcast during a segment on imagining our social media future where he discusses social programming, run by real people. He advocates learning lessons from parks and libraries as institutions who have focused on public life that is not about making money (or spying on us), but on educating and enriching citizen’s lives. Public libraries were, of course, established with the idea that a democracy required an informed population.
“When cities were starting, they didn’t have parks and there were real health consequences that were coming from that. When libraries became a part of many communities, it was when large groups of people were first becoming literate but couldn’t afford books. And so now here we are with the Internet, finding that, no, you can’t rely on a few big venture backed corporations to provide all of the services and serve all of the needs of public infrastructure. And, you know, in some ways that’s so obvious. Companies aren’t built to serve public needs.

He further continues, “We’ve taken this concept of community and we’ve allowed ourselves to imagine that it can happen without the people whose jobs and whose focus it is to hold the community together.”

So in others, community support functions simply aren’t the kinds of activities that make sense in any profit-driven environment. They are simply “inefficient” from an economic sense. However, this doesn’t mean that work is not valuable.

The host, Brooke Gladstone, brings up, “Scholar Joan Donovan has called for 10,000 librarians for the Internet“. This is where my ears perked up. πŸ™‚

Eli continues, “what Joan is calling for is this notion that the more you get close to how human beings are relating and how human beings are understanding, the harder it is to replace all of that with a fancy algorithm. And one thing about librarians is they know their local context and they understand the different constituencies that are involved. All of that knowledge is really important in figuring out how to make a space welcoming and thought provoking.
I haven’t heard librarians discussing this research, although we’ve certainly discussed around these ideas. But it makes me think there’s definitely an opportunity for collaboration with some very smart, motivated people to help develop better public spaces (and to improve library presence, both online and off).

One thing I think librarians have led the way on based on our experience and knowledge has been the importance of establishing safety as opposed to unfettered “free speech”– this has also been borne out by research that Eli describes, “The loudest and often most entitled voices get heard the most because there are no rules. Communities have to have norms in order to function. One of our advisors is Nathan Matteus, who has this fascinating research about Reddit, where he looks at Reddit Channel, where some folks saw a list of rules about how to engage and some folks didn’t. And you might think this is going to put people off to show them all of the rules. Actually, the opposite was true, that especially for women and folks of color, they were more likely to engage when they saw the rules because there was some sense of organization and safety and therefore I feel comfortable participating.”
I would argue that when people are too intimidated to participant, you’ve already damaged free speech– which is why I can’t support positions like Seattle Public Library hosting The Women’s Liberation Front, or the idea that we shouldn’t ban white supremacists from our meeting rooms (yes, some people have actually suggested this).

So I have floated this idea before, to tepid reception among library folks (and I understand why, it’s difficult and expensive, and highly likely to fail miserably given the lack of interest the public has shown before in being social on library websites), but I wonder if some national or international cooperative could be created to develop a true alternative social platform to Facebook or Twitter (or Parler)– a virtual library meeting room, if you will– that could combine the professional ethics of librarianship and our reputation as trusted institutions to build out an alternative that both discourages (we probably can’t ever eliminate) misinformation, while also providing safe opportunities for online community building.
It seems that some folks outside of libraries are actually asking us to do this.

What do you think?

Related Reading:

To Thrive, Our Democracy Needs Digital Public Infrastructure

These disinformation researchers saw the coronavirus ‘infodemic’ coming

Social-media companies must flatten the curve of misinformation

You Missed a Spot, January 15 episode of On the Media podcast

Five Rousing Calls to Action

New Public Festival

New Public

Articles worth reading – week of Jan. 17 – Trump almost pulled it off.

It wasn’t just whipping up public opinion and ridiculous legal challenges. It wasn’t just revving up the insurrectionists at the rally on Jan. 6. Trump really did try to become a true kleptocrat, ending our democracy as we know it.
Something we’re just learning more about now– Trump was not just trying to “burrow” in employees like Michael Ellis in the NSA but he was also mucking about in all kinds of agencies, including a scheme to try to push out his acting Attorney General (who’d been on the job all of about 4 days) so that he could install a guy willing to use the DOJ to try to force Georgia to overturn its election. This is more and more clearly multiple attempts at a coup. When many thought things were settling down and he’d given up– he was actually fucking with some of our top agencies, including the CIA, to try anything he could to subvert democracy. For this reason alone, the Senate must ban him from public office as a result of the impeachment trial. However, it also looks like the 14th Amendment may also be an option for barring from office (for inciting insurrection).

Oh yeah– also, the Trump campaign gave a bunch of money to the “protest” that launched the storming of the Capital. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Now that the party is over, it seems that right wing groups are splintering and some adherents are giving up. The Intercept discusses, “What’s next for the Militias?

Considering starting up a site again….

If it looks like there’s nothing really here, it’s because I’m not sure I want to set up a site again or not. Here’s what I do know:

  1. I find myself writing stuff from time to time that really isn’t best suited as a Facebook comment and I wish there were a way that we could have a better discussion about it.
  2. I also find that I gather stuff that I’d like to share with people because they ask me about them.
  3. I like playing with WordPress and other software just because it’s fun for me to do so.

That seems enough of a reason that I may develop this into a bit of an ongoing journal, a place to share cool stuffs (everything from articles to recipes), as well as a landing spot for anything that I would like to have a bit more life and/or discoverability than a tweet or Facebook news feed post.

So if this doesn’t make sense when you come here. That’s why. It’s either under construction or just an experiment. We’ll see if I end up actually doing anything with it.

Either way, I hope you have a wonderful day. πŸ™‚