How Mary Tyler Moore Helped Me Sleep

mary and rhoda“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying.  It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.” ~Dale Carnegie

It is 1:35am and I’m wide awake. I am sitting in my great room alongside my three cats. I’m so jealous of them; they are all sound asleep.  The room is still and dark except for the lone light of my trusty old laptop.  I took two Xanax several hours ago to ensure I would get a good night’s sleep,  but alas, sleep escapes me once again.

It’s not that I have any one thing on my mind, it’s that I have many things crowding my head like a stock ticker rolling through my subconscious.  For starters, I spoke to a dear friend today about the recent passing of her dad; a man I loved dearly who I never had the chance to properly say goodbye to (except for me joking that between me praying to Moses and his wife praying to Jesus we had him covered; he chuckled). I know he’s finally at peace, but today’s conversation weighs heavily on me and I just can’t shake it.

I worry about my own mortality (as I sometimes do in the wee hours of the morning when things always look bleaker and much bigger than they do during the day). I know my lack of exercise (due to sitting on my duff all day writing) is the culprit of my worry.  Or is that simply an excuse?  Whatever the reason, it’s not a good one, and I need to make an active commitment to taking better care of myself.

My head is reeling with reading about different diet and exercise programs, trying to decide which one to begin.  I’ve never been good with decisions, and I feel overwhelmed making this one.  I wish I had a fairy godmother who would swoop down and tell me to follow a specific program, while assuring me that all of my health problems would suddenly disappear if I did. Where is that magic wand?

Now it’s 1:54 am and I’m still wide awake.  One of my cats is snoring and I’m getting angry.  Slumber. Slumber.  How I miss you.

“Cats have it all – admiration, an endless sleep, and company only when they want it.” ~Rod McKuen

Perhaps a small bowl of cereal will do the trick.  How much could one small bowl of Bran Flakes with raisins and milk possibly add to my daily intake of calories? What’s the old saying: if you eat in the dark the calories don’t count?

It’s 1:56 and I can’t decide if I should go for the cereal.  They do say milk helps you sleep better.  Well, perhaps I’ll have a small bowl…

It’s 2:00 and I’m full and need to use the bathroom.  Do the steps to the powder room add to my daily overall count of steps? I’ll have to look that one up.

Maybe I’ll put on an old Mary Tyler Moore episode from Youtube to help me sleep.  The old gang in Minneapolis always soothes my soul and calms me down. When Mary throws her hat into the air I always feel a lot better.  It makes me feel all warm inside.  Let’s see what’s going on with the gang.

It’s 2:45 and all is well.  In this episode, Rhoda (Valerie Harper) says my favorite line to Mary, the one about using food as a form of comfort.  Mary scolds Rhoda by telling her to eat some cottage cheese. Rhoda quickly responds by saying, “No, Mary, cottage cheese solves nothing.  Chocolate can do it all.”  You just have to love Rhoda.

Still wide away, I decide to put on one more episode. Cats still snoring. House still dark and quiet. Laptop battery running low. What’s a girl to do?

Finally – yes, finally – the Xanax kicks in.  I can barely keep my eyes open to find out if Murray’s play gets produced.  I know each episode by heart, but I’ll still want closure, so I’ve decided I’ll finish watching the rest of the episode tomorrow.

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”  ~Irish Proverb

Before I drag myself back to bed, I make a pact with myself to write a little less tomorrow and exercise a little more. Putting exercise back into my life (aside from my once a week yoga class) will not only help me sleep better, but will lessen the middle-of-the-night worries about my own mortality, which will help me manage my weight and make me feel healthier and more vibrant.  Yes! I really mean it this time.

Nighty night, my friends.  I hope you had a better sleep than I did.  And, oh, don’t bother calling me till after 9am.  I have a feeling the  Xanax  will keep me asleep a little longer than usual.

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Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester is the author of An Empowered Spirit, a blog that empowers people to live a healthy and vibrant life after the age of 50. During what she calls her “Second Chapter” Cathy wants to pay it forward for those that helped her after her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Writing about being fabulous after 50 AND her life with MS are her true passions. She is a Writer/Administrator for Healthline and a columnist/Health Guide for Cathy has been a Peer Advocate for Teva Neuroscience/Shared Cathy Chester is the author of An Empowered Spirit, a blog that empowers people to live a healthy and vibrant life after the age of 50. During what she calls her “Second Chapter” Cathy wants to pay it forward for those that helped her with her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. She is passionate about writing on being fabulous after 50 AND living a life of quality despite a diagnosis of MS. She is a Blogger for The Huffington Post, a Blogger/Moderator for Healthline and a Blogger/Moderator for Cathy is a Peer Advocate for Teva Neuroscience/Shared Solutions, helping others navigate the difficulties of living with a chronic illness. She is a speaker on behalf of The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, educating caseworkers at nursing homes and assisted living facilities on the treatment and care of patients with MS. She lives in New Jersey with her wonderful (and fabulous over 50) husband, college aged son (when he’s home!) and three adorable cats. 

  16 comments for “How Mary Tyler Moore Helped Me Sleep

  1. March 19, 2013 at 7:43 am

    The watching of the clock! I do that, but I tend to stay in bed–which isn’t necessarily helpful. I sometimes think, as you did, that a little more movement on a writing day would help with sleep!
    Loved the visuals of you with the cats!

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks, Walker. I always look forward to hearing from you and I value your thoughts.

      Dr. Weil says some exercise (not too close to bedtime) helps to sleep. Experts also say to get out of bed and go to another room. They also say not to turn on the computer as it will be too “stimulating”; that is exactly what I do. Oh well, I don’t always do what the doctor ordered.

      Thanks so much for reading my post and leaving your comments.


  2. Liane
    March 19, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I’ve been up fretting since 4:30 am so I especially enjoy this piece, Cathy. I love your line “many things crowding my head like a stock ticker rolling through my subconscious.”

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Thank you, LIane. I appreciate your comments on my writing. I’m sorry you share my problem of getting a solid night’s sleep! Sometimes it’s just maddening.

      I appreciate you reading my post and commenting on it.


  3. March 19, 2013 at 8:01 am

    We should set a twitter party for 3AM – bet we could get a good group going since insomnia is such a common problem. I watch my snoozing dogs like you do your cats with no small amount of jealousy. Glad that MTM usually does the trick for you.

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      Oh, boy! We’ll have do to a Google hangout. All in our pj’s, snuggled under blankets, chatting away in the darkness. It would be such fun!

      Thanks for reading my post and leaving your comment. I sincerely appreciate it.

      Best always~

  4. Helene Bludman
    March 19, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Loved this! I also know every episode of MTM by heart, and I never grow tired of watching them.

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm


      One day we’ll have to have a pajama party and have a “Mary-thon”!! Wouldn’t that be fun?

      Thank you for reading my post and leaving your thoughtful comments.


  5. March 19, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I loved Rhoda but I really loved Ted-he really cracked me up. Thta middle of the night head swirling, cant get to sleep, thing is not fun-need to refill my Xanax, and watch a little MTM!

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Mary Anne,

      We can virtually watch MTM together! My husband is so predictable. He loves Ted, and I know exactly which line he’ll laugh at. I’m so glad we share a great love the The MTM Shows. I’m equally happy you enjoy it as much as I do.

      We’ll have to have a Xanax/pajama’MTM sleepover with our GF galfriends!

      Thanks for leaving your lovely comments.


  6. March 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Mary Tyler Moore show seems so much wiser in the wee hours.
    I am hooked on the drug Lunesta and I admit it. It turns off my brain!

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm


      I tried Lunesta but it gave me heart palpitations I thought I was having a heart attack! Agh. I am so glad it works for you. Better living through chemistry, right? Whatever works for anyone – is perfect!

      Thanks for leaving your comments.


  7. Emily Cappo
    March 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    We all battle those insomnia-ridden nights from time to time and I’m glad Mary, Rhoda (and Xanax) helped you through it. Congrats on posting here!

    • Cathy Chester
      March 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks for everything, Emily. For your lovely comments and for your congratulations. I always enjoy hearing what you have to say.

      Have a wonderful evening,

  8. Helena
    April 3, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Hi Cathy,

    Good news – exercise might help you sleep better after all! I’m not sure if you heard of the recent National Sleep Foundation’s poll, but it found a link between exercise and sleep improvements. Sleep studies have found similar links, especially in what they call ‘older adults’ and postmenopausal women. It was mostly aerobic exercise that was found beneficial, but moderate resistance training as well.

    So go forth and take up another class if you can – you might see some benefits, and not just in lost pounds, but your sleep as well!

  9. Marcia Reich
    July 17, 2013 at 12:51 am

    And this is my life just substitute a dog for your cats. Both my husband and my dog snore and I can hear them from downstairs while I wait and yearn for sleep! I watch Friends and Raymond at night leaving my husband to wonder what his fifty-year-old wife is doing watching Nick at night LOL.

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