Too tired at work, no time for fun

Last article we met Esmerelda Santana. She came reluctantly, yet without necessity to face sleep problems. Onset of the problem, she reports, was about five or six months ago. Her restless sleep was compromising an otherwise healthy woman.

She worked long hours on her family vineyard. Her viticulture degree, coupled with years of learning the successful family business of the same in California, gave rise to a new venture for the family. Her two older brothers took on the business in California. She resided on the farm in a small cottage. Her folks resided in the larger farmhouse. She was entrusted with management responsibilities. Her work days were long and began early.

Reluctantly, she met with a physician to deal with her restless sleep. Medications were prescribed and halted due to side-effects. She saw two therapists at the request of her physician. Both pushed medications for sleep and anxiety. She stopped seeing both given their medication approval. She was looking for answers. I wasn’t sure if she wanted a quick fix. I had little information to make that determination. Given her work schedule during this summer’s growing season, I wondered if we might be able to fit in the time necessary to meet her needs.

She arrived for her next appointment. She was dressed casually. Her eyes looked puffy. We began to explore her sleep problem. More scientific information on sleep problems or disorders is available. Sometimes, we need to rule out medical problems. Sometimes, a sleep study might enlighten us. Initially, I wondered about her work schedule and how demanding it might be.

Her daily responsibilities in managing a family business might carry some effect upon her psyche. Esmerelda provided insight into her day. She rose early, checked her messages, email and the like. She did some stretching. She went to the farmhouse to join her folks for both breakfast and daily meeting. She met her crew at 7 a.m. to map out their workday. She conducted her viticulture work throughout the morning. Research and information-gathering about the vineyard took up the day. Occasional meetings with her crew chief and, at times, her parents kept her at a constant busy. She ate a light lunch and dinner after sundown with her parents. Trips to town for supplies and meetings with other vineyard owners took up a lot of her time.

I listened and asked her what she did for fun and enjoyment. Her quick release of the aforementioned information came to an abrupt halt. “Fun? Who has time for fun?” I asked her if she dates. “Not really. Well, to be honest with you, I met someone. We get together sometimes on weekend nights for music and drinks at a local bar. Her name is Berta, short for Roberta. I’ve got more time after the growing season. Berta is patient. Sometimes she spends the night at the cottage with me.”

Back to the sleep problem. She further described how the restless sleep has curtailed her running. “I’m too tired to run. I think I’ve gained some weight. I want to take a nap and have no time to do so. I’m busy, Marshall.”

Five or six months ago, I wondered what event might have occurred to shake up her sleep. Before, she reported a good sleep pattern. I asked her. She started to say something that appeared difficult to say. She swallowed her words and then stated an interesting fact. “I believe in taking good care of my crew. They work hard and I pay good wages. Sometimes, on Fridays I bring beer and pizza after quitting time. They love it. We eat, drink and bust chops. They’re great. One time, a crew member named Zeke blurted out the pizza wasn’t good. He could make it better. The challenge was on. I would pick up the ingredients and he’d make the pizza from my oven in the cottage. He’d get off early to do that.”

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein, a Cassadaga resident, holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at Hutton and Greenstein Counseling Services, 501 E. Third St., Suite 2B, Jamestown, 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email