Can a tuna fish omelet lead to peace?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Don’t tell me President-elect George W. Bush is not a smart man. I know different. I read only a day or two ago that he travels with his own favorite pillow. That’s brilliant. How good is a politician on the stump if he hasn’t had a sound night’s sleep?

And how important is a pillow?

If you have to ask that question, you are one of the lucky ones, the people who can lie down on wooden benches, close their eyes and immediately go to sleep.

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Most of us fit somewhere in a less defined category of light-to-medium sleepers who require not only that favorite pillow but also other sleep-inducing circumstances ranging from the right stage of darkness to the perfect humming noise – a small fan, perhaps.

Sleep, we are told, is more difficult to do without than food, water and even friendship. When we get too little sleep, folks around us notice. Sleep-deprived people usually are cranky and jittery.

The pillow is an item sleep experts say we use not only as a comfort for sleeping but also as part of a routine for preparing to sleep.

Routine? It’s important.

People who have trouble sleeping have devised elaborate pillow routines, including plumping the favorite pillow to a perfect puffiness or folding the pillow over to make it thicker or even sleeping on a couple of pillows.

Sleep has become so important to the busy beings who run the world today that how-to expertise never is in short supply, all the way from important medical aids for the truly troubled sleeper to helpful hints for the tense people who simply find they can’t relax at bedtime.

Frenzied activity into the evening hours will inhibit drowsiness. That’s only reasonable. So those who frequently find themselves in that fix may benefit from some of the tips provided by the Sleep Council.

Honestly, there is such a thing as the Sleep Council, and their hints are interesting.

Certain foods eaten before bedtime may help a person to relax and get to sleep more quickly. Research shows that a certain amino acid called tryptophan may play a role.

Foods with that amino acid include milk, eggs, tuna fish and baked beans, to name a few.

Some poor sleepers have tried exercise, an excellent idea, but only if done earlier in the day.

Does it really help to count

sheep? It does, experts say.

It doesn’t have to be sheep. You can vary the jumpers. If our new president has a tense day, for example, he could fall asleep visualizing blue-dog Democrats jumping the fence.

Visualizing endless sheep jumping over a neat little fence apparently distracts both sides of your brain. The left side, involved in logical calculations, does the counting, while the right side, the producer of visual images, conjures up the wooly coats and pointy ears.

Sheep counting literally bores you into falling asleep. Amazing.

Think what a good night’s sleep could do if everyone in the world could accomplish it regularly. We suggest a tuna fish omelet and a glass of milk as bedtime snacks at the White House and other famous addresses in foreign lands.

And we urge plumping of all the pillows before heads of state rest upon them.

Joan Gandy is special projects director for The Democrat. She can be reached at 445-3549 or via e-mail at joan.gandy@