Sleepless in Sonoma Valley?

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Even as a bill aimed at giving California teenagers more sleep hits the governor’s desk, it appears that some of the Sonoma Valley’s grown-ups aren’t getting enough sleep themselves.

If signed into law, Senate Bill 328 would require all public middle and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Meanwhile, research indicates that adults who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and other ills.

Some residents of the Valley cited family obligations, work and an ever-busy mind as barriers to getting eight hours’ sleep, while others generously shared their tips for successfully dozing off.

“Clear your mind before your head hits the pillow,” said Laurie Kennedy of Sonoma, who belongs to the latter group. She had just emerged from Pet Food Express on West Napa Street Friday with her freshly washed dog, Bullet.

“I pray a little bit, I think good thoughts and I try to think good thoughts before I go to bed,” Kennedy said.

She added, “Always give your mate a kiss good night. Sometimes that’s the biggest challenge.”

Mary Omodt said avoiding alcohol and junk food is key.

“It’s very much in my control … unfortunately,” she said as she sat with her issue of the Wall Street Journal outside Sonoma Market on West Napa Street.

Avoiding eating late at night is also important, Omodt said.

As to whether she gets enough sleep, the Sonoma resident said, “Yes and no.”

Tom Hale of Sonoma has family obligations – specifically, a 9-month-old puppy – that interrupt his sleep, he said.

“I get up at 2:30 a.m. to take him outside,” Hale said. When not puppy parenting, though, “I go to bed at 10 p.m. and get up at 6:30 a.m.,” he said.

Joanne Haviland of Boyes Springs said the demands of daily life keep her from getting a solid eight hours of sleep.

“I work full time, and I also help care for my mom,” Haviland said. “I think women get less sleep than men. We’re the ones who get up to take care of the kids.”

Also, she said, “My mind doesn’t turn off when I lie down to sleep.”

Asked if she gets enough sleep, Caitlin Ryvlin, an overnight doula, gave a solid, “No.”

“It’s my job to not get sleep,” the Sonoma resident said. Overnight doulas, she explained, stay at the infants’ homes from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and care for the babies, bottle-feeding them or taking them in to their mothers for breast-feeding.

“It’s a pleasure. I’m nurturing and taking care of the children,” she said. Ryvlin also has two children of her own, ages 7 and 9.

“I have always woken up a few times a night,” Ryvlin said, so the sleep interruptions don’t bother her.

Exhibiting the resilience with which wildfire survivors have repeatedly distinguished themselves, Lauri Dorman of Glen Ellen said, “I lost my house, so I wasn’t sleeping. But now we’re on our way.”

She said physical exercise is what helps her to sleep. “I hike in the regional parks and I swim laps.” Also, Dorman said, “I don’t take a phone or iPad to bed.”

Natale Verdone of Glen Ellen had another tip: “I use essential oils at night. I put a couple drops of lavender oil mixed with almond oil on my chest and my son’s chest,” a nightly ritual the two enjoy, said Verdone, who is a single mom with a 5-year-old son and her own hair and makeup business. She was visiting the Pet Food Express with her Staffordshire-terrier mix, Lemmy.

“I make sleep a priority. If I don’t sleep, I can’t function,” Verdone said. “It’s all about self-care.”

With that in mind, folks in the Valley can learn more about how to get a good night’s sleep at an upcoming event offered by the Sonoma Valley Hospital as part of its GirlTalk Women’s Health series. Patricia Brooks, a licensed clinical social worker, will discuss practices that can help or disrupt sleep, and will give a mindful movement demonstration.

The event will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Ramekins, 450 W. Spain St. Reservations, at, and a $10 donation are requested.

Reach Janis Mara at

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