I have landed!

October 28, 2022 • 3:41 pm

I’m now reposing in Davis, California, a town familiar to me since I spent three years here as a postdoc. I didn’t like the isolation much (it’s smack in the middle of the hot and desolate Central Valley), but the University was great for genetics, and one could always make the one-hour drive to Berkeley on the weekends.

The town doesn’t seem to have changed much, though its been yonks since I’ve come here, and I’ll be here visiting friends until Thursday, when I head to Stanford for the much-demonized Academic Freedom Conference.

I’m resting now after a long flight (ca 4 hours), which, fortunately, did NOT begin with my being groped by TSA agents.  I’m still suffering from insomnia but made up for lost sleep on the flight.

Just FYI, my doctor suggested a rather drastic solution to insomnia which seems to have some efficacy. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, run a VERY COLD bath and then sit in it for 15 minutes. The first night I did this, three nights ago, it worked like a charm: I went back to my warm bed, fell asleep instantly and slept through the night.

Two nights ago I tried to game the system, as I found a website that said that a five-minute cold shower was just as good as a longer bath. But it wasn’t, and I slept poorly. Last night I reverted to the cold bath but stayed in for about 20 minutes (believe me, it is PURE TORTURE). When I went back to bed I was shivering for a long time, even under a down comforter, and had trouble getting back to sleep. But I slept well.

Can you imagine having to do this every day? I hope this bout of insomnia will pass soon; I’ve had similar ones a few times before but they never hung on as long as this one. Not only that, but my doctor recommends that I not drink alcohol, either–not even a glass of wine with dinner. (Alcohol tends to make you sleep better, but wake up in the middle of the night. When I heard that, I told him, “Alex, first you ban my beloved wine, and now you torture me by ordering me to sitting in cold water in the wee hours. What’s next–are you gonna flay me?”  Seriously, though, is life worth living when you can’t have wine and have to put your tuchas (and everything else) in frigid water at midnight?

But we all have crosses to bear, though mine is a Star of David.

I’ll gradually resume regular posting when I get time. There WILL be Hilis and Caturdays.

Oh, and I learned there is an In-N-Out Burger place in Davis! I will be going there soon to see what Anthony Bourdain was all excited about. But tonight we eat Thai.

23 thoughts on “I have landed!

  1. Forget the cold bath….I find it best to get out of bed, go to my favourite reading spot and read till I start yawning….sometimes I will take some cheddar with me to gnaw on. At the first yawn, or acute sense of sleepiness, return to bed and within minutes I will have dropped off. I get through most of my reading that way. On average takes 30minutes. I follow this in the middle of winter too, but do not turn on heaters…maybe the drop in temperature is the key.

  2. “I didn’t like the isolation much (it’s smack in the middle of the hot and desolate Central Valley)”

    Davis is also only 15 miles away from Sacramento, which has a cool downtown area. Lots of music clubs and used bookstores, and the lovely Crest Theatre. When I was a student at UCD I took Yolobus to get there.

    “The town doesn’t seem to have changed much”

    Not drastically, though in the two decades since my freshman year I’ve noticed the town has grown bigger, and now has a Target on the outskirts. Downtown also has more eateries and shops, though there’s only one used bookstore now. The campus hasn’t changed much, aside from the addition of the Mondavi Center.

    1. I thought to mention that going west on 128 you are just over a low mountain pass from Napa Valley…but then i read on and came across your wine prohibition…yechhh…so never mind.

    2. I was in grad school at Davis from 1968 to 1970. When we moved there we could not find a place to live, so ended up in West Sacramento, which was notable because most of the people called up for the Vietnam War draft who lived there were not eligible because they had felony convictions on their record. Fortunately, we moved into Davis after a few weeks. Last time I visited Davis, it seemed to me that it had grown a lot. As you say, the downtown has expanded and a house/neighborhood we shared with a geology prof. and his girlfriend, who was a geology undergrad (would not happen today) has been swallowed up by commercial development.

    1. It sounds positive for Melatonin but I as a long-time rotating shift worker and also occasional insomniac will say that actual sleeping tablets work, and work better than Melatonin, which can not be counted on to get you to sleep. Ambien will put you to sleep.
      My ex also suffers from insomnia from time to time and found Melatonin useless. However, many years ago my then doctor recommended Melatonin, on the basis that nurses had found it useful.
      I would have had a much more difficult life without sleeping tablets. Real ones.

  3. Of course Darwin would use cold baths to treat his mystery ailment. So you have that company.
    Not having wine with dinner seems like permission to have a tipple earlier in the day. Or if not at all, maybe you can start smoking Mary Jane. 😉

  4. That bath is darn interesting.

    Ibuprofen upon first awakening helps me sleep well.

    I tried cold showers before bed but it got me worked up. Its supposed to burn brown fat says the Healthspan author…. can’t recall .. David something…

  5. I hate a hot bedroom & if I cannot have an open window I sleep poorly. When I lived in Norway & it was snowing outside, I still had the window open. 16C (61F) or cooler is ideal. These days I often have only the quilt cover as well.

  6. I’m loathe to give you advice, but if you haven’t yet tried eating dinner early, like no later than 3 or 4pm, and consuming lots of probiotics like sauerkraut and kimchi, then maybe try it, Jerry. The cold baths would be torture for me.

    1. I think whatever time it is, daily compliance improves the results.

      And yes, I used to think filling up means I’ll sleep better. I tried to give it an hour before the hay. There’s something to it.

  7. I won’t add to the many words of advice that you’re getting. My wife has had insomnia off and on. She seemed to be at her worst when she was in the care of a sleep therapist. Of course, I can’t be sure if she went to the sleep therapist only when things were at their worst, or whether she reached her nadir thanks to the services of the therapist. I also note that she’s better when she doesn’t fret about it. But then again, I don’t know if she frets only when it’s bad or if fretting over sleep contributes to her insomnia. It’s a difficult problem, and I wish you swift relief.

  8. Re: banning wine, I was trying to find a cartoon I came across a few years ago in which a doctor is telling a patient sitting on the examination table that he can live a long and healthy life if he gives up everything that makes life enjoyable.

    1. “… if he gives up everything that makes life enjoyable.”

      Sure – but feeling like crap all day can be associated with some of those things. Don’t ask me how I know.

      Dose makes the poison,… moderation in all things, perhaps…

  9. I’m sure you’ll get 100 suggestions on treating insomnia. I’m intrigued by your doctor’s cold shower suggestion. Merck developed an insomnia drug called suvorexant which is an antagonist of orexin receptors in the brain, discovered in narcoleptic dogs, and it apparently works well. What I learned from that effort is just how poor our sleep quality gets as we age (and alcohol doesn’t help). I wouldn’t recommend any pharmaceutical intervention to someone else but like your doctor’s advice, you might try sleeping under warm blankets in a very cold (say 45-50 F) room to maintain deeper sleep with fewer episodic breaks.

    Maybe try it once. Just trying to help out one if our favorite content providers.

  10. If you run into him, PCCE, please say hello to Kim Stanley Robinson for me (he’s one of my few heroes). Thanks, Bob Bray

  11. Of course, you must remember that sleeping too warm is also bad. Your body wants to drop its temperature a couple of degrees during sleep. Staying too warm can make it harder to sleep. I thought I had insomnia years ago and I read an Ann Landers article that helped me. Two things you must do while trying to sleep – do not allow your tongue to touch the roof of your mouth, and do not allow your upper and lower jaws come into contact.

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