Dear Amy: This question might seem childish, but I am a 61-year-old adult.
Why does everything seem so bad at night?
For the last year or so I’ve found myself waking up from bad dreams almost every night.
I start thinking about everyday issues regarding family, work, health, etc., and it all seems so overwhelming and urgent.
I put myself into panicked ruminations about these problems.
When the sun comes up, I inevitably realize that everything I was worried about overnight is actually manageable by day.
The middle-of-the night bad thoughts are so bad that I can’t or don’t want to go back to sleep, so I put the television on, generally tune into an old, cheerful, and bright Hollywood musical, which does eliminate the thoughts, but also eliminates the sleep.
Do you know why things seem so bad at night when they don’t in the day?
Also, do you know of anything that might help me to stop doing this?
— Afraid of the Dark
Dear Afraid: Everything seems worse at night time because — it’s dark outside.
It makes sense to be afraid in the dark because we human beings are vulnerable at night. Your fear, anxiety, and rumination during those nighttime hours are the result of thousands of years of humans needing to be on high alert at night.
I suspect that your issue really begins with your sleeping problem. If you were able to sleep through the night, you wouldn’t have these anxious hours.
Your disordered sleep and nightmares could be brought on by anxiety, depression, or medication. You should review any changes in your routine, diet, or medical status that might cause this sleep interruption.
There are many holistic remedies for better sleep and some medications that might help you. I (a lifelong insomniac) have had success recently using a CBD product, along with deep breathing during those times when I’m awake. (If you concentrate on your breath, you can keep those intrusive thoughts at bay.) I also usually make a to-do list before bedtime. The magic of the list is that it helps to organize tomorrow’s tasks into manageable portions.
This is from an article called “Nightmares and the Brain” published by Harvard Medical School (hms.harvard.edu):
“Psychological therapy for nightmares is called image rehearsal therapy, or IRT. In this form of cognitive therapy, individuals, especially those who repeatedly experience a given type of nightmare, are asked to recall and write down their nightmares, then asked to rewrite the nightmare and give it a positive ending. The individual then rehearses the rewritten version before going to sleep with the aim of displacing the unwanted content during sleep.”
I love the idea of rewriting dreams. I hope you can give your own dreams happier endings.
Dear Amy: My wife and I were married last year. It was the first marriage for both of us, even though I am in my 60s and my wife is in her 50s. Our friends and relatives know that we are financially secure.
One of my relatives and his wife gave us a wedding gift consisting of an acknowledgment from a charitable organization of a gift made in our names.
No amount of the donation was listed, but I called and learned the amount was $100.
My wife and I are not opposed to this charity, but I’m not sure we would choose to contribute to it, even though we have attended some of their functions in the past (my relative is aware of this).
Is this a proper wedding gift? My relative didn’t check with us in advance to make sure we would approve this donation.
Dear Perplexed: Surely one advantage of being older newlyweds is that you have the financial stability, good sense, perspective, and maturity not to create problems where none exist.
Your relative knew you’d expressed interest in this charity. You don’t report any problems created by this donation.
Yes, this was a thoughtful and appropriate gift. I hope you express your gratitude for it.
(And — not that you asked, but calling the charity to find out the amount of money donated was tackier than a wedding brawl on the dance floor.)
Dear Amy: “Upset” said that a couple had moved their RV onto her property and were now living there, surrounded by their junked cars.
My town has regulations against this; Upset should check with the town for help in removing them.
— Also Upset
Dear Upset: Regulations aside — this is trespassing. (They were also stealing her electricity.) I think it’s time to call the sheriff.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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