Sleepless Nights

“Billy, as you get older it’s not the miles, but the maintenance” 

—- Bernice Wilson, circa 1978

My late Aunt Bernice was more than a friend, she was a wise confidante during my many stays at “The Farm“.

As with many of the things she told me, I came to see the wisdom in this as I am passing middle age.

Now I don’t need any pills that keep me alive – but a few that help me run better.

From the pharmacy, not the street.

Thought I should qualify that.

I was trying to find the phrase Lex used in one of his humorous flight physicals, but a search came up empty. But as of today I don’t have any “gotta have ems“. Just “help to have ems“.

And I don’t have, as of yet, a pill box labeled “Monday through Sunday”.

Doesn’t even bother me that I will go to the store, then forget the reason I went there.

I know that it will eventually come to me on the way home.

I’ve always been a light sleeper, but lately it has been ridiculous.

I’ve always been pretty much a night person, forced to live in a day world.

I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and then on trial given a CPAP Machine to “help” me sleep.

The thing reminded me of a SCUBA regulator.

Try to sleep while a SCUBA regulator is over your mouth.

Actually, while breathing the whole thing made me want to tell Luke, after a Laser sword fight, that I was his father.

Listen to this for its entire time of  22:57 and then tell me if you’d feel like sleeping.

Didn’t think so.

But they did tell me that I had much less of a problem sleeping on my side or stomach so that’s what I have been trying to do.

Only I’ll be wide awake until 0300-0400 or so, then sleep.

I think the main problem is turning off the mind.

So anyway, one of the Lexicans was telling us today that there was a serious effort by the US Navy in WW2 to help aviators, stressed by combat, to get to sleep within 2 minutes.

A couple years into WWII, the U.S. military realized it had a problem on its hands. Due to the enormous pressures of aerial combat, many of its pilots were accumulating levels of stress so debilitating that they were cracking under it. The tension caused them to lock up in flight and make fatal mistakes — accidentally shooting down friendly planes, or becoming an avoidable casualty themselves.

In an effort to stem the loss of pilots and planes, the military brought in Naval Ensign Bud Winter to research, develop, and test a scientific method for teaching relaxation. Before the war, Winter had been a successful college football and track coach, who had also worked with a professor of psychology on techniques to help athletes relax and perform better under the stress of competition. Stationed at the Del Monte Naval Pre-Flight School in California, his mission now was to coordinate with other coaches and professors to create a course that would similarly instruct cadets on how to stay calm and loose under the pressures of combat.

The end goal of the program was to teach the Naval aviators how to relax, so that they could learn more quickly, speed up their reaction time, sharpen their focus, and diminish their fear. The course also aimed to teach “combat aviators to be able to go to sleep in two minutes any time, day or night, under any and all conditions”; instruction in this skill was included to ensure that pilots got adequate sleep, and could sneak in extra shuteye whenever possible.

It’s worth reading.

First relax the body, then the mind. 

I’d go into more of this but it is now 0037.

Going to give it a try.

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Filed under Good Stuff, Perspective

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