The old trails: sleep well, no light

It was the best advice; that was the worst advice. I was there, still up at 1 am, listening to John Tesh’s “Intelligence for Your Life” Christmas radio show. That’s when Tesh shared one of his tips for improving our lives: If you have trouble sleeping, don’t listen to music for an hour before bed.

OK, John, your radio show doesn’t come on here until midnight. If I stop my music an hour before bedtime, that means I can’t listen to your show. So, in a way, your advice cuts your throat.

My conclusion ? Noble Tesh cares more about my well-being than his radio ratings. It makes me want to listen to his show even more, but since I only listen to it during the holidays, this whole dilemma is now moot.

Why? Because when I woke up Monday morning, Mix 99.5 (formerly WMAG at High Point) and Virginia’s Q99 were back to regular music – more Christmas music. Jed Clampett would exclaim, “If that doesn’t take the ham out of the pork!” We’re still not at work, at school, watching holiday movies, and playing games that we got for Christmas. Listen to the music please!

Some families can only organize Christmas gatherings after December 25th. Some festivities, such as the holiday lights, continue until New Year’s Day. So why cut the music off at the end of Christmas Day?

If people are complaining that the holiday music lasts too long, then don’t start right after Halloween, for goodness sake! Radio 99.5 began broadcasting holiday favorites on November 5th; Q99 November 12. If I had my druthers they would start playing later in November and then continue until the New Years as they did before.

Like my old pastor, Brother Bob, used to say, “I’m done getting involved”, so let me quit my “Save the Christmas Music!” »Soap box and come back to all the advice” no music just before bed “. When Tesh discussed this issue on his show, he used an unknown term for the hubster and me – “the earworm”. He said listening to music right before bed can cause earworms.

“What is an earworm?” The term conjured up mental images of a slimy creature crawling into my ear as I slept – all because I wanted to hear Nat King Cole sing “The Christmas Song” before I went to bed. But no worries, dear readers. Let’s cut through the fabric and come to the cheese. An earworm is simply a song that gets stuck in your head and keeps repeating itself unintentionally in your brain.

Has this happened to you? Studies show that 90 percent of people suffer from an earworm at least once a week. The logical cause is that you have listened to this song recently. Maybe it sparked a memory for you that intensified its hold on your brain. So, when you try to sleep, some scientists believe that your brain begins to unload things, including song lyrics that are repeated over and over.

So, according to experts, insomniacs should turn off the music at least an hour before going to bed. They should also avoid screens of any kind – television, computer, telephone. Bright screens emit blue light which stimulates our brains and makes us more alert, which is obviously not what we want when it’s dark.

You see, deep in your brain is something the size of a grain of rice and shaped like a pine cone – hence its name, the pineal gland. This tiny endocrine gland secretes melatonin (a hormone needed for sleep) when the light we absorb decreases. When light stimulates photoreceptors in the pineal gland, whether the light is coming from your phone screen or the bulb in your bathroom, the production of melatonin slows down. This can make it difficult to sleep.

So when nature calls in the middle of the night, try not to turn on a bright light. Maybe a bathroom nightlight is a solution. And when you can’t sleep and grab the phone next to your bed to check your Facebook messages or tomorrow’s weather, scientifically, you can make your problem worse.

In this modern world where neon lights spoil our nighttime sights, third-shift jobs, artificial lights in our homes, and screens of all types being our main entertainment, I think sleep has been affected accordingly and negatively.

My thinking is that God designed our bodies (hello pineal gland!) To respond to the light. When the sun rises, we are programmed to wake up. When the sun goes down, our body begins to relax to sleep. As we keep the lights dazzling in our nocturnal worlds, our body receives the message that we are not ready to sleep. So why should our brains send out melatonin to put us to sleep?

You’ve probably heard that reading before bed promotes sleep, but that’s not true if you’re reading on your Kindle or iPad. Try to hold a literal book again, for a change. And if you find that reading the scriptures calms you down to sleep, you might be able to take Grandma’s old Bible off the shelf instead of reading from the Bible app on your phone. It makes a difference.

Sometimes I feel a contradiction in my very soul. I long for the old paths of lamp light at night with a dying fire in the hearth – Daddy reading the Bible or a family classic aloud for young people while Ma knits more to the touch than to the sight. Yet my life is so busy during the day that it is often the night before I can check my emails, reply to my Facebook messages, or write newspaper articles on my laptop. (And let’s not forget my habit of watching West Coast baseball on a bright TV screen late at night from April through October.)

As we exit the Christmas season and prepare to start 2022, I intend to make some big changes in my life. One of them is to set aside the time before bedtime as a time with no screens and no music, but rather precious time to read a literal book or maybe write in my journal (again, in a book that I can touch rather than in my online calendar). Journaling with a pen in hand before bed has been shown to positively affect sleep.

The “Pa” at home works late, I don’t know how to knit, and the children don’t enjoy reading aloud anymore. Nonetheless, I can do my part to return to the rhythms of light that my Creator programmed my body to respond to. I guess you could say I was enlightened. I hope you were too. Let’s do what we can to make 2022 the best year of our lives!

Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed to His blog is at