Win the night: If you snooze, you win

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer November 22, 2013 07:10 am

Down through history, some real go-getters, some major achievers, a who’s who of accomplishers on the world stage, famously got by on little sleep.

The list is long. It includes statesman Winston Churchill, who slept only three hours a night; Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb; and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who crankily said, “Sleep is for wimps.”

Call me a wimp. I don’t want to be famous. I’d rather get my zzzs. 

That’s why I’ve come up with a Win the Night program. It’s modeled after the University of Oregon football team’s Win the Day, except instead of warp speed it is king-sized sedentary.

Perhaps you’re like me — an occasional insomniac. If so, you have my sympathies. My late dear neighbor, Betty, wasn’t famous except in the neighborhood. If the Nobel Prize was given for hospitality, however, she would have won every year. Betty used to tell me if I saw her light on at 3 in the morning, come down and play cards.

Otherwise, she planned to accompany the hoot owls on the organ.

I wish now I would have taken her up on a game of Uno.

Sleep, Betty told me, becomes more of a challenge once a person hits 50 and enters that theme park for geezers, AARP Land. You don’t have to worry to lay awake. And there are plenty of opportunities, heaven knows, to go for a ride. The home mortgage can be your own Tunnel of Anxiety. The sewer bill can be your own Tornado. The strange new dot on your forehead that has nothing to do with Hinduism can be your own Loop-the-Loop.

Even if you count sheep. Meditate on belly-button lint. Drain your brain of thought like a zen master. You can still lay awake for hours.

Part of insomnia is mechanical. The sad fact is the body produces less melatonin as a person ages. There is debate over whether replacing that melatonin through over-the-counter pills is wise, and sleeping pills can be addictive, and expensive, and turn you into a zombie.

Win the Night is about conquering insomnia the natural way. Maybe it’s drinking only one cup of coffee per day, or at least fewer than 10 cups of coffee that can be eaten with knife and fork.

Win the Night is about not eating or drinking anything within two hours of bedtime, making sure the bedroom is pitch dark, going to bed at the same time every night and — alas! — cutting out naps.

Win the Night is about listening to ocean sounds and trying not to think of Keiko the killer whale, the former mayor of Newport.

I tried the sounds of  the Okefenokee Swamp. That only made me wider awake. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw alligators and mosquitoes the size of red-tailed hawks.

Each person is different. Some conventional wisdom says it’s good to get at least seven hours of sleep, or eight if you’re a high achiever.

Sleep is important because it gives the body down time to make routine repairs. It’s like taking your body into a master mechanic for a tune up — with no worries about getting a bill in the mail.

I’d rather be a high achiever for sleep  than win the Nobel Prize with bags around my eyes the size of soup bowls. 

If you snooze, you Win the Night.

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.