I Disagree With the Experts

I just read an article in the paper this morning about a study reported in the journal Sleep that examined the quality of sleep in more than 150,000 Americans.  The study purported to debunk the myth that you sleep worse as you get older.  According to their study, older people actually sleep better than younger people with fewer sleep disturbances.  I disagree with their findings for a specific reason which will be made clear when you read about a recent dream I had.

I usually don’t remember dreams, but this one was so terrifying that it has stayed with me in clear detail.  My heart still pounds when I recount it.  In the dream my girlfriend of nearly fifty years and I had decided to go on a little trip together.  She chose going to a rustic cabin in the deep dark woods, far from any civilization.  Might I point out that in real life, she and I consider staying in anything less than a three-star hotel as “roughing it,” and even in my dream, her decision to go into the woods was a tad unsettling.

The woods were lovely, dark and deep (thank you, Robert Frost), but as soon as we entered the cabin, something didn’t feel right.  I sensed a menacing presence in the forest, a presence that felt like it was getting closer every minute.  My friend felt it, too, but we thought we must be two old ladies letting our imaginations run away with us.  Then we heard it.  It started as a low rumbling we could feel in the pit of our stomachs.  We looked out the kitchen window, but it was nearly dark, and we couldn’t see anything.  As the rumble became louder, we realized it was growling.  We clutched each other, secure in the knowledge that we were both pathetic cowards.  Whatever it was, we were safe inside.  Just to make sure, we went around and locked all the doors and windows.

The growling increased and now seemed to be coming from all sides of the cabin.  We had drawn the shades against the coming of the dark, but we ventured to peek under one.  The shriek was awful to hear, all the more awful when I recognized it as my own.  For there, on the other side of the window, was an enormous bear, but not just any bear.  It looked like a giant, stuffed teddy bear with no eyes but ferociously sharp fangs and claws.  (Now that I think of it, it looked a little like Walter, the teddy bear my youngest son had when he was five, without the fangs and claws, of course.)  And not only was it not just any bear, it was not the only bear.  We were surrounded by the hideous creatures and more were pouring out of the woods.  Surely we’ll be safe inside the cabin and they’ll be gone in the morning, I thought.  But as soon as you have the thought “surely,” you know you’re doomed.

Picture this with fangs and claws

The sound of breaking glass heightened our terror, and my girlfriend grabbed my arm, pulling me towards the door.  “We’ve got to make a break for it,” she said.  “The car’s right outside the door.  Let’s go!”

As much as I wanted to oblige, I had one problem that kept me rooted to the spot.  “I can’t.  I have to go to the bathroom first.”

“Forget the damn bathroom (my damn, not hers).  We’ve got to get out of here now!” she yelled.

“But I really have to go bad!”

Picture this:  the ghastly monsters are starting to climb through the windows, snarling is at a fever pitch, my girlfriend is screaming and yanking on my arm, and I’m staying put because I have to pee.  The bears are so close now, we can smell their stinking breath.  And then…I woke up.  Yikes!  I really did have to pee, I realized as I ran to the bathroom.  How I hate not sleeping through the night anymore.  Aging sucks sometimes.

And that’s why the experts are wrong.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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35 Responses to I Disagree With the Experts

  1. Val says:

    Yeah, know that feeling well! And I’ve had a recurring dream for years that I’m on or by a river and get on a canal boat that, for some reason, I can’t get off – and then wake needing to run to the bathroom!

  2. Robin says:

    lol! I have the same kind of dreams, but the kind that really frighten me are the dreams in which I find a bathroom. I’m afraid dream peeing may, er, spill over into reality. It hasn’t, so far. I do hope it stays that way.

    • Coming East says:

      That would scare me,motto, Robin! I think it’s amazing how our bodies can let us know, even in our dreams, that we have some urgent business to take care of.

  3. Ha! So true! I often end up dreaming I have to go pee and I’m 41, so this doesn’t bode well for me.

    • Coming East says:

      I think it’s so funny that our minds have worked out a system to keeping us from wetting the bed by entering into our dreams to let us know we need to take care of an urgent need. Ah, to be 41 again, Darla. My daughter is not much younger than you.

  4. E.C. says:

    lol Wow what a frightfully amusing dream. Thank goodness you woke up. 😉
    I know what you mean about the experts. IMO Studies like that are the result of leftover monies that the college or scientific group will lose out of the next budget if they don’t spend it and prove they need it… Rarely ever have I found that studies like this are in anyway correct for the average folk that they’re aimed at. Did that make sense? lol
    Great post. Your bear photo looks like the bear that my son had and now his son has. I hope I don’t have nightmares now too. 😉

  5. Glad your need for the bathroom saved you from those nasty bears. Isn’t it nice to wake up and realize it’s just a dream?

  6. Must tell you – I very, very nearly wet the bed this morning because I was dreaming that I was trying to pee. I woke up soooooo close to doing so that I immediately thought of you.

    I don’t mean that in a bad way.

  7. There’s been a lot written about sleep at the moment, for how maybe we should be sleeping in two sections rather than aim for a modern ideal of 8 hours but I guess it’s about what’s normal or right for you, what works for you. It’s when our sleep patterns change that we don’t like it or we have scary dreams! 🙂

  8. Margie says:

    I read an article recently referring to segmented sleep: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783
    Briefly, it talks about he fact that in the not so distant past mankind likely slept in two segments at night, with an awake segment in between. (An extended pee break, as it were,)
    Maybe as we age, we return to what is actually a more normal way of sleeping!

    • Coming East says:

      How interesting, Margie. I’ll have to take a look at the article. Even though I don’t sleep through the night in one segment, I really don’t wake up feeling sleepy unless I had insomnia, which happens occasionally. So maybe they are right.

  9. Rosalie says:

    Who are these so called experts? I have not slept well in years. First it was flashes not light but heat, then it was empty nest syndrome, then bladder, now a new job, -but there is hope- a homeopathic pill called Tranquility. I actually sleep 6 hours straight through now!

  10. Seems your need to pee actually saved you from the bears. Hooray for full bladders and imaginary predators (as opposed to real ones!)

  11. Huffygirl says:

    Then, there is more sleep apnea occuring with aging. That will suck the good restorative sleep right out of you!

  12. Leah says:

    I’m lucky if I can get through the night without waking for one reason or another. I have a hard time believing that sleep does not worsen as we age.

    • Coming East says:

      Me, too, Leah, but I do know that I don’t have quite as many worries, like a job, to keep my mind busy. I still worry about children, though. Guess that never stops.

  13. gaycarboys says:

    I’d be very happy with once a night but it is rarely less than 5 times. It has been since I was a small child. Stuffs your sleep pattern let me tell you.

  14. notquiteold says:

    I seem to incorporate the need to pee into my dreams. I’m always desperately looking for the bathroom. And of course, now that I am older, I often dream about looking for the bathroom more than once every night.

  15. I don’t have any growling bears in my dreams. Most nights my urgent need is what wakes me up. If I am in REM sleep I find myself analyzing whether I can “make it through the night” so as not to have to get up. To be honest, my greatest fear is getting to the age when the urge no longer wakes me up…

  16. adela says:

    I have variations of that dream all the time. Anyways, my urgent need to pee entering into an urgent dream of some sort. The thing is, I’m in a deep deep sleep, not that half-way sleep of younger years: always listening for the newborn to wake, the toddler with a fever, the teen coming home from a date. I can sleep through almost anything, even the urgent need to pee. Well, almost. That eventually wakes me.

    • Coming East says:

      So true, Adela. Most nights, my urgent need is the only thing that wakes me up, though sometimes it is more than once a night. But all those concerns of younger years are absent except when we have a specific worry about one of our children or grandchildren. The experts are quite right. This was just tongue in cheek.

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