Sleepless in Toronto

(editors note: To skip to the part of this post pertaining to sleep aids and help with insomnia, click here. To read about “Leslieville Lenny” click here)

I went over to Leslieville to meet an old friend for a couple of drinks on Friday. He’d been suffering from terrible insomnia and we both needed the company. For me the commute is about an hour long and covers 11 km. On this trip it involved two buses, a subway train, and a streetcar. The picture above was taken while on a streetcar on Queen Street, just east of Broadview.

The route I take is basically an L, travelling south on Yonge Street and then east on Queen Street. The transfer at Yonge and Queen is at street level, in a concrete canyon that is bordered by the Eaton Centre on the north and The Bay on the south. This picture was taken there:

Queen and Yonge in Toronto

Before We Get to Ideas for Help with Insomnia

With the scent of cheese, pasta, and chicken fajitas in the air and the Raptors game on the big and numerous TVs, we got down to the business at hand. In addition to sleeping disorders, we also researched what college football game looked most intriguing for the following afternoon.

The (13) Auburn Tigers @ (14) Texas A&M Aggies looked like the best bet. It wasn’t. We also agreed that in a season of big upsets, there would likely be one. There were two in the top 10.

Just What Is an Aggie, Anyway? And What Does A&M Stand For?

As Canadians, those two questions are pretty sure to be asked whenever anything involving Texas A&M comes up. I can never seem to commit it to memory, so I did a quick Google while my friend was outside enjoying a fine tobacco product. He did the same thing while outside. Along the way I found some mind-blowing stats. There are about 70,000 students who attend Texas A&M, tuition is around $20,000, and the midsize campus is about 1/3 the size of Manhattan.

But to answer those critical questions, here are the answers, straight from the Texas A&M website:

  • Agricultural and Mechanical, originally, but today the letters no longer explicitly stand for anything.”

  • “An Aggie is a student at Texas A&M. In the early 1900s, Texas A&M students were referred to as “Farmers.” The term Aggie began to be used in the 1920s, and in 1949, when the yearbook changed its name from The Longhorn to Aggieland, Aggie became the official student body nickname.”

Sleep Aids! Who’s Got ‘em? Who Needs ‘em?

When we finally got down to business, I didn’t have a good answer for what I use as a sleeping aid. Perhaps therapy helped with my insomnia, perhaps not. I’ve always had trouble sleeping, even as a young child. My sister used to yell at me to go to sleep from her room across the hall.

In college, the person living in the apartment next to me had a supply of Nytol. As I recall Nytol helped me get my Z’s, but I only used it a couple of times, and not since those days. I want to sleep, not kill myself.

I also mentioned that watching reruns of television shows looped helped me sleep. Familiar voices and all that. As my dad used to say, “TV is the greatest sleeping pill ever invented“.

Reading can also work on occasion, but after a few nights of no sleep, reading isn’t really someone one is capable of at any level. However, if you are in the mood for reading, there’s a recent article in the NY Times that may interest you entitled Did Covid Change How We Dream? It takes about an hour to read, so grab a blankie…

After Sleeping on It…

I had a couple of other ideas and thoughts for my sleep-deprived comrade:

Carb Coma?
I used to keep a pot of rice in the fridge. Not for a sleep aid, but for a snack. I thought it might be healthier than junk food, and equally as quick. I take a little out of the pot, nuke it for a minute, and blammo! Just brown rice and margarine, and often that puts me out. I’ve also used oatmeal, but rice is much more pleasant.

If I were a Texas A&M alumnus, I might say postprandial somnolence instead of “carb coma”.

Herbal Tea?
In later years of college I would complain to Michelle that I couldn’t sleep and that I need a bottle of sleeping pills. She’d shake her fist at me and say “I’ve got your bottle of sleeping pills right here!”She was joking, of course, and would often brew me a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea. There are lots of varieties of herbal teas and even store brands out there. I still use herbal tea as a sleep aide from time to time.

Melatonin Supplements?
Melatonin is a hormone that is made by your brain. It helps to regulate sleep, in that your brain makes produces more melatonin when it is dark, and less when it is light. It’s basically your brain synchronizing your wake/sleep patterns with the sun. Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter in Canada and the US.

It’s Getting Late, so until next Time…

On the way home from Leslieville there was a man on the streetcar walking up and down the aisle trying to sell uncooked roasts. He had them cradled inside his jacket and would be certain to make eye contact with whoever he offered them to. His voice was soft, as if he were pleading. “Half price?” Maybe he had a child who planning on attending Texas A&M in the fall and this was a side-hustle to work up tuition.

The beef salesman reminded me of a hilarious character from the old TV show Good Times named Lenny. Lenny wore a full-length fur coat and would open it to show off his wares, everything from electronics to medical supplies. His sales pitch was always in the form of a rhyme. With a hustle like that he must have ended up owning Chicago!

See Lenny in action for yourself here:

Leslieville Lenny” had me remembering other unusual purchasing opportunities I had seen, and that was going to be the subject of this post. Oh well, maybe next time.

PS The Raptors dropped a close one at home.

PPS Texas A&M defeated Auburn. Elsewhere, the #3 ranked Michigan State Spartans were upset by unseeded Purdue Boilermakers. Before the MSU game, Purdue had also defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were ranked #2 at the time.

Next week Purdue is in Columbus to take on the #6 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, so Boiler Up!

Sleep well!

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