Advice for the Horticulturally Harassed

Dr. C. was a regular writer and hortipersonality at BHN for many years until his retirement in 2011. As a nod to the 1980’s, we are herein reprinting an article from another era.

Nancy Non Sequitur

“Another myth went up the chimney faster than Santa Claus with the revelation that the poet John Keats, like the rest of us, was dead wrong in Endymion when he called sleep ‘full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.’ We should have known better in this, a frustrating world of shifting shibboleths about health. Remember when beefsteak would induce strength, not a coronary? How we jogged our way to crippled knees? How we learned about Reyes syndrome long after we dosed our feverish kids with aspirin, as directed? How an unlucky generation of pregnant women, deprived of coffee, now learns it’s not going to hurt the baby? Wine? Good for the heart. Milk? Nope, too much fat. Water? Think about lead. Nonetheless, we never questioned the restorative balm of a good sleep. It’s supposed to knit the raveled sleeve of care, but that’s not what was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Virend Somers of the University of Iowa. Dreams, it seems, invite heart attacks. Monitoring the sleep of eight volunteers, researchers noted lowered rates of heartbeats and blood pressure until the onset of dreams. And then the sympathetic nervous system, which isn’t all that sympathetic, kicks in with stress hormones that are blamed for conditions that can clog the heart’s own arteries.

“To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub.”