Insomnia: Truths and Technicalities

May 6, 2016
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Almost everyone experiences the occasional sleepless night, and the average adult American carries a bit of sleep debt. These experiences, while exhausting and of concern, are nothing compared to chronic insomnia.

There are three broad types of true insomnia: sleep-onset insomnia, in which sleep takes an inordinate amount of time to arrive; sleep-maintenance insomnia, in which the sleeper wakes repeatedly throughout the night or has difficulty falling back to sleep after a waking; and early-wake insomnia, in which morning sometimes comes for the sleeper before the clock has acknowledged it. Each of these types can be transient (lasting just a few nights), short-term (lasting a couple of weeks), long-term (lasting months or years), or idiopathic (permanent, beginning in early childhood).

It’s hard to imagine the depths of exhaustion and stress experienced by the true insomniac. People who have experienced a sleepless night or two are prone to recommending the same few things. “Have you tried a good sleep routine?” they’ll ask. “Avoid screens in bed,” they’ll say. Journalling and tea are often recommended to those who haven’t slept in weeks. It can make an insomniac want to scream — if he or she had the energy to do so, anyway. Most insomniacs know the expert advice which works for average bad sleepers isn’t as helpful for chronic insomnia.

Many insomniacs discover that nothing works reliably to bring about consistent sleep. What works one night, or even one month, may abruptly stop working. Drugs are habituating and can become less effective over time; herbs are almost laughably useless to someone who can’t fall asleep even after five nights awake. Sleep science is in its infancy; the newest research suggests that sleep variations such as insomnia have so many determinant factors that the true cure may be unique to each sufferer.

If you experience insomnia, the best thing you can do is discuss it with a medical professional as soon as possible. Sleep deprivation is dangerous in myriad ways, from long-term health effects to simple dangers such as driving while sleep-deprived. Medical advice can help you find the best way to treat your insomnia and mitigate the factors causing it. And in the meantime, try not to scream when your friends suggest a hot cup of tea.


Roosevelt Brewing Company Continually in Progress

March 24, 2016

You can find a lively crowd at The Roosevelt Brewing Company any night it’s open. The brewpub, open since 2012, is a popular place in Portales. Justin Cole’s ever-changing roster of small-batch beers, combined with chef Tyne Sansom’s innovative menu, beguile residents of our small town. The addition of local musicians, comedians, and artists doesn’t hurt, either.

The brewery has faced challenges, though you wouldn’t know it to read the first report of its opening in the Portales News-Tribune. Community leaders in that article spoke specifically and excitedly of the economic benefits the brewery would bring to Portales. Just two years later, however, those same community leaders would vote to deny Cole’s request to sell his brews at the annual Peanut Valley Festival.

In the time since that vote, the brewing company has overcome a citywide water outage that temporarily shuttered other local businesses, turned down the potential benefits of a new state law allowing home delivery of alcohol — which seems to somehow balance the Peanut Valley Festival disappointment – and become the center of Portales’s nightlife.

The brewpub is particularly packed on holidays, when it’s often impossible even to make a reservation. Patrons call to book their tables weeks in advance, thanks in large part to Sansom’s one-of-a-kind holiday menus and specialty cupcakes. A hallmark of the brewpub is its constant innovation; beers, menus, cupcakes, and promotions rotate quickly, so that customers are always returning for the next big thing.

“You just get what I call FOMO,” Jessica Anders, a 24-year-old administrative assistant, told me. “Fear of missing out. I try to get in to the pub every week just so I can taste every cupcake!”

This innovative spirit is likely the driving force behind Roosevelt Brewing Company’s rapid rise to success, despite the difficulty Cole experienced in establishing it. The same flexibility and willingness to think creatively that creates the pub’s novel atmosphere is seen in the ways Cole has responded to challenges during its establishment. Water’s out? That’s fine – he’ll use distilled. No seller’s permit at a festival? That’s great – but don’t expect him to pay for delivery privileges later!

Hidden Costs of Returning to School

March 4, 2016


Amie Griffith takes a break from her 10-hour day of work and classes on ENMU’s Portales campus.

What happens when a college student takes a long break from post-secondary education? Amie Griffith, a 2009 ENMU graduate, is finding out the hard way. Griffith, a 32-year-old Development Director at ENMU’s affiliated broadcast center, KENW, returned to Eastern last year in pursuit of her Master’s degree in Communication. She is part of a groundswell of students who interrupt tertiary education to focus on life in the “real world” — students who may find their return to formal schooling contains unpleasant surprises.

Griffith speaks with irritation of these surprises, which often come in the form of hidden financial burdens. “Even though my tuition is covered by KENW, I still end up spending all kinds of money I hadn’t expected to,” she told me. “You have to pay a fee for internet classes — and that’s another surprise, now all the classes are online — and books cost so much more than they used to. A lot of teachers make you buy directly from the bookstore, too, so you can’t really save money by going to Amazon.” Were these costs not explained to her when she applied to the graduate school? “No, not at all,” she says. “I was just told to fill out a tuition waiver, then next thing I knew, I got a bill!” This experience is something to consider for students who are confident that their employers will foot the bill for continued education.

For traditional, first-time undergraduates, the first (and biggest) hurdle is financing. The U.S. Department of Education estimates 80-85% of first-time undergraduate students now receive some form of financial aid, which means this hurdle is often cleared by scholarships and loans. A returning student like Griffith may find this is no longer the case — as an independent adult, the means test by which financial aid is awarded now applies solely to the student (rather than the student’s parents), and a working student may find her income is too high to receive much aid.

Although Griffith’s focus was on the financial aspects of returning to school, other changes to the landscape confront students who have taken a lengthy hiatus. The rising popularity of distance learning is one such change; while online classes offer unprecedented flexibility, they can also strand students in the educational weeds, with no way out when they get stuck. Kirsten Peterson, a recent graduate of ENMU’s Master’s of Communication program, told me frankly that she felt lost in many of her classes. “If I emailed a question I never knew when, or if, my professor would answer,” she said. “I have a hard time learning by just reading along, so I had a lot of questions, and I was just stuck. I was used to going to class every day and interacting with everyone in person, so it was really surprising to me that now everything is on the computer.” This question of timely interaction and assistance is compounded when both professor and student have external obligations pressing on their time.

There are solutions to these and other problems, of course. In next week’s installment we’ll take advice for nontraditional students from college advising departments, examine post-graduate financial aid options, and consider ways to arrange a full life to create room for education. While you consider the information here, you may find the following links helpful:


“Is an MBA Right for Me?”

“My Experience Going Back to School, 10 Years Later”

“Why I Went Back to College”

Your mama warned you there’d be days like these.*

April 22, 2009

Hello! It has been 69 hours since my last cigarette! Excuse my one-track mind, but I am going nuts!

Day one was easy. Day two was okay. Today has been hellish. I might even smoke a cigarette tonight while we barbecue, because look, I am only human. A cigarette every three days — or after dinner every night, even — is not that bad.


I’m kind of afraid that if I smoke one, I will go right back to smoking a pack or more a day, even though that is in no way logical. I think I have Chantix, AA, and Puritanism all mixed up in my head. Ugh! I caught myself sniffing at Michael furtively this evening, gathering the residue of his cigarette into my poor deprived brain like some sort of lunatic. (Yes, I have mandated that nobody smoke around me, which means Michael is sneaking cigarettes at the mailbox and I am ignoring it so I can sneak whiffs of stale smoke from his clothes. Quitting may turn out to be a filthier habit than smoking ever was.)

Anyway, that fear is the only thing that’s kept me from smoking today. Well, that fear and BubbleShooter, which I have played for something like 10 hours since 8:00 this morning. Also, I think I ate everything in the house, and can only be relieved that most of it was vegetables.

Help! Alternatively, reassure my week and feeble brain that it’s all right if I have a cigarette tonight, but only one. And say that last part really, really sternly.

* The Rembrandts

It’s a good morning beautiful day.

March 18, 2009

Hello, lovelies! Today is a good day, would you like to know why? It started out with gorgeous weather (70F and sunny before 10:00AM). My seedlings are… well, they’re still not visible, but I sense that they’re happy. And when I checked my email, I discovered a press release from the lovely folks at eBeanstalk, who make lovely and exceptionally fun toys for kids.

My tendency is to ignore these sorts of things — I receive them occasionally, and they’re almost always either lame or irrelevant — but the difference here is that I like eBeanstalk. I’ve actually bought things from them before, things that Connor loved (for example, this most excellent smart phone). I know them well enough to feel comfortable telling you to go have a look. Also, they were kind enough to include a 15% off coupon for my readers (… hah), and I know that like a bajillion of you either just had kids or have had kids for a while and might need to jazz them up a little. (What? It’s okay to admit it.)

So, if you want to buy some awesome, fun, developmentally rockin’ toys, you can use coupon code TGS345 at the site, anytime between now and June 30th.

Tomorrow we resume our regular, non-commercial-shilling updates. I feel like kind of a doofus right now. (HAY GUYZ BUY THIS KEWL PRODUKT!) Catch you then!

(But seriously, I really do whole-heartedly encourage you to at least go look at the site. Great stuff, excellent service, and a discount! What could it hurt?)

*Keith Urban, oh God.

Sold: One soul, slightly worn.

November 15, 2008

I gave in and got a Flickr account. I plan to use it as a kind of photo-journal of whatever crosses my mind, is picture-worthy, but is not deserving of a full entry.

Will I keep up with it, you ask? Well, who the hell knows. It’s fun right now, though, even though all I’ve done is upload pictures of what I wore today. You should come play with me.

By request.

September 25, 2008

Whoopsie! It’s been a while, I see. Where does the time go? Oh, wait, I know where it goes — it goes into resetting my entire computer back to factory standards on the advice of a tech support idiot who told me that the connection problems I was having were “in no way caused by my ISP” and that they “must be registry issues caused by Service Pack 1” and… well, it turned out to be my ISP after all, but by the time I found that out my computer had already been wiped.

So! I spent a day and a night doing that, and another day and night re-downloading necessary programs, and another day and night installing those programs (along with the approximately 8 billion Windows updates from the past year), and then a day and night working at a frantic pace to make up for missing three days, and then… then I briefly embodied total lunacy and stayed up all night watching Titus, an early-millenium sitcom that’s kind of dumb at first but by the time the exhaustion sets in you realize that the show is actually much smarter than it seems on the surface and it goes deeply into the emotional ramifications of being a screwed-up person (Titus’s words, not mine) and in fact, this little show is the best thing to have ever been on television!

Of course, then you go to bed for three hours and have really weird dreams, but it’s just part of the process. And when you get up, you have apparently forgotten how to write paragraphs comprised of more than one sentence. Moving on.

What I’m trying to say is — hey, sing it with me — I’m very tired. I am likely to spend the day sitting in a stupor on our porch while Connor runs happily wild in the yard, because I can’t muster the energy or interest in anything else. At some point I’m going to have to work, but I’ll worry about that after my second pot of coffee, thank you very much.

In lieu of a real, substance-y update, let me redirect you. There are many new posts up at Schizodigestive, and I even wrote some of them! (Well, okay. Two of them. Shush.) Whatever is a lot of fun — it’s a well-written, funny blog by a very good science fiction writer who dips into politics, cats, family life, and all kinds of interesting stuff. You should go watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, if you aren’t already. And, uh… here is a picture of a scary cat.

There! Go forth and click links, my children. The internet won’t just expand itself, you know.