• Cecil Lewis Jr.

Sweet Dreams Recipe

Updated: Jan 3

This week I thought I would take a break from writing on my blog “Work Series” (I have 2 more parts to add to the series). Today, I wanted to share the recipe (German = Rezept) I use to get a good night’s sleep, which produces some pretty awesome dreams. Before I start, let me clarify that I am not really one of these Zen, yoga, meditation people. But in an effort to get a great night’s sleep, I came up with something that really works for me and perhaps it might work for you.

I remember as a child how I fought the whole concept of sleep. Perhaps I felt having to take a nap or going to bed early was a type of punishment. In reality, most parents understand the value and benefits of rest for their children or they simply wanted to get the brats out of their hair and have some peace. Hence, I thought the solution was nap-time or sending us to bed as early as possible, even if the sun was still shining.

The video is probably me being told it is nap time.

I was one of those children who did not like taking naps. My Dad recently shared a story with me related to this. When I was a young boy, someone had asked me if I was going to work for Ford like my Dad when I grew up. My prompt response was NO, I do not want to come home every day from work and take a nap. This was a ritual I that had observed of my Dad a lot of days when I was a child. It consisted of him sitting in his recliner to read the newspaper, which quickly turned into the newspaper laying on his chest and a snoring sound.

For most of my adult years, I was lucky if I would get 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night. I think this quite common for a lot of people. My routine for many years was trying to get to be bed by 11:00, to be woke up by an alarm clock at 5:45 a.m., so I could leave the house by 6:30 a.m. to embark on my one-hour commute to work. The problem was that often it would take an hour or so to wind down to be able to fall asleep. Often followed by waking up in the middle of the night with work on my mind or waking up before the alarm went off and again my mind would switch into the work mode. I remember laying there just praying that I would fall back to sleep. Sound familiar?

Let’s fast forward to the last few years. A lot of the time when I hit the bed, I am in the sleep zone within minutes. On the occasion, I get to bed early and I not particularly exhausted, I will explain my go-to-bed ritual.

Of course, as an American, I have a television in my bedroom. As I understand it, a lot of Germans do not get this concept. The bedroom is for sleeping, not watching television (it is the whole German logic thing). In America, it is common that every bedroom in the house has a television; sometimes we have them in the kitchen, outside (if had a covered patio - German = Terrasse), the living room or family room and I know people who have them in their garage (might just need to watch the game while you are washing your car or smoking cigars with your buddy’s). The last home I had in America, I had 7 televisions.

Back to my go-to-bed ritual. I first turn on the television (Amazon Prime) and I watch some meaningless show that I don’t get very interest in (usually a sit-com (comedy) or reality show on TLC). Lately, I have been watching “King of Queens” or “2 Broke Girls”. I was hooked on the TLC reality shows for a while, but I found that watching shows like “Sister Wives” (a show about a Mormon man who has 4 wives) or “Little People, Big World” (a show about a family of little people “dwarfism”). Unfortunately, these shows invoked some pretty unsettling dreams for me (enough said).

I watch these shows in English, so I do have to concentrate on the German language. For a time, I tried reading a book. However, in that I only read self-help or motivational books, I found these caused me to think too much. The main point is that I need to turn my mind off.

I also like to drink tea at bedtime (usually Schlaftee = in English sleepy-time tea). However, I encountered a problem with taking tea to bed. I have woken up a few times sleeping in a pool of tea. Yes, I said tea. Waking in a fog of sleepiness I thought, “OH NO I didn’t”. Thank goodness, that is tea and not pee. This problem has now been solved. After sharing this experience with a friend, I received the gift of a children’s sippy cup.

Over the past several months, I have developed a habit which I working to break now. For many years now, I try not to eat after 8:00 and particularly not in bed. I lost a lot of weight since coming to Germany and I don’t want to find these pounds again – another story for the future. It is not a good habit as for one, I know it is not good to take in empty calories before going to sleep. Secondly, like the tea scenario, I wake up to a big mess in my bed. Recently I was making my bed one morning before work and I found a chicken bone in my bed (chicken wings). Or the other time, I had used some dipping sauce that consisted of mayo and ketchup. Yep, it was everywhere. I had on a white t-shirt and I thought I had taken a bullet to the chest during the night. NOT GOOD!!

Now that I have established the concept of clearing your mind to help us fall asleep, we now enter my next phase. The Sleep Music Phase. Once I hit the 50-year-old mark in my life, I come to learn the reality of needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. No one ever told me about this before. I have discussed this with my buddy’s and the have concurred it is true, and it is an aging man’s reality of which they experience too. Every night, it is as if there is an alarm in my brain at ~4:00 a.m. Wake up Cecil, it’s bathroom time. This is when I move into the Sleep Music Phase.

I stream my sleep music from YouTube to my television (you could use a computer or smartphone) and I black out the television screen. The sleep music I use is called Delta Waves.

(From Quora.com) Brainwaves can have various effects on the brain and the state of mind. Delta waves are known to be “relaxing” and can induce the best sleep possible. Delta Waves are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation, sleep, and peace of mind. They were discovered in the early 1900's by the researcher W. Grey Walter. Delta waves operate at the lowest and slowest frequency range: from zero to 4Hz. They invoke sleep regenerative and can help us wake up fresh and energetic as a result of a good night of sleep.

I used to use another form of sleep music called Binaural Beats. Binaural Beats operate on a similar concept as Delta Waves. However, Binaural Beats are often just a constant tone tuned to help you sleep and I found the constant tone a bit annoying. Then occasionally, I mix things up with the sound of rain, a thunderstorm or ocean waves. Whatever works. If you are interested in checking these out, just go to YouTube and search on delta wave sleep music or binaural beats sleep music. There is a full range of playing times (from a 30-minute power nap to 8 hours of play), tons of selections to choose from. There are even options for what you want the tones or waves focused on (healing, relief for depression, headaches, weight loss, sexual power…..I am not joking).

If you have read some of my other blogs, I like to point out what I perceive is a bonus on some of the views I share. So the Sleep Music Bonus is Delta Waves and Binaural Beats can invoke a thing called Lucid Dreaming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucid_dream All I can say is these dreams are like you are in a movie, I dream about people of things that I have not even thought about in years and well, they can be pretty crazy.

I am not going to write a research paper on the topic or benefits of sleep, as I am not qualified. I simply wanted to share with you my approach to a great night of sleep. One key point is that sleep is mandatory for the body’s healing process and there are many studies that have validated the many sleep benefits.

Here are a few examples with my witty personal input:

  1. Sleep boosts your immune system and improves your health (that’s why I am a picture of physical fitness)

  2. Sleep improves your memory, concentration, and productivity (the jury is still out this one)

  3. Sleep restores and energizes (so I can work, write a blog and be a part-time Rock star)

  4. Sleep stimulates creativity (my blog and music)

  5. Sleep helps with weight management and weight loss (I lost 42 pounds (~20 kilo) since being in Germany – probably not because of sleep, that is another story for another time)

  6. Sleep helps you stay mentally and emotionally fit (hence my charming and magnetic personality)

  7. Sleep slows down the aging process (this is the reason I look like a 25-year-old with gray hair)

Recommended Sleep Hours

My Sweet Dreams Recipe:

  1. Find a way to clear or distract your mind when you go to bed

  2. Introduce delta waves to your sleep process (give it a try)

  3. Ensure you go to bed early enough so that you can achieve 7 or 8 hours of sleep

I know a few people who do not have trouble with the sleep thing. If they were giving out gold medals for sleeping they would be the winners. But, if all else fails, take a sleeping pill or drink a bottle of whiskey, but I would suggest not doing both at the same time or try eating a half gallon of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Sweet Dreams or süße Träume !

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