I am on a sleep rampage.
Yesterday, I made the decision to defend my sleep with the ferocity of a mother grizzly protecting her cubs.
This has been percolating for some time.
Years ago, when I loaded trucks for a living, I discovered a good night’s sleep could make the difference between a 12-hour shift of exhilarating challenges…
… and 14 hours of soul-crushing labor.
The lesson stuck with me, but my challenges with sleep shifted along with my lifestyle.
I needed another wake-up call. And I got one in the form of slogging through several nights in a row, where I’d drift off around 11PM, only to awaken around 2AM… and remain that way.
I’d try to relax back to sleep… get up and take melatonin and some relaxing herbs… and found the only “solution” was to get some reading done. Not because it helped me sleep – reading was merely a way to make use of the time.
Around 6AM, close to when I was going to get up anyway, I’d finally drift in and out of a funk… and then grudgingly start my day.
Because of my exercise and meditation habits, I could actually function like this for a while.
But there’s a big difference between feeling just fine, and working through the dulling blanket of exhaustion tainting every little moment…
… and pulsating with creative energy and relishing your life.
I chose the latter.
So I had a problem to solve. Because of my wired mind at night, I figured cortisol was gushing through me when it wasn’t meant to. Or I had a drop in blood sugar (a frequent cause of suddenly waking up around 2-3AM). I decided to experiment with my evening meal. Then I wondered if the nootropics I began recently taking, were at fault. In fact, I figured the latter was the answer.
Nope. Something else was ruining my sleep, and I’ll reveal that in a moment.
Finally, after another night with only two or maybe three hours of sleep, I happened to be facilitating a MasterMind meeting with some fellow entrepreneurs. I brought up my sleep problem. One of my guests suggested something that I figured wasn’t the answer… but I was willing to try.
She was right.
Before I reveal the answer, here are the actions I took before finally having my breakthrough.
- Began preparing for bed around 8:30PM (now, I’m striking the “around” and replacing with “at”).
- Woke up before 7AM (I used to lie around in bed a bit, as I saw fit. No more).
- Engaged in daily exercise and meditation.
- Installed fl.ux on my laptop to reduce my blue light exposure after sunset.
- Took various supplements and supplemental collagen. As well as ashwagandha and ginseng in the afternoon and evening.
- Ensured there are zero electronic lights in my bedroom. I unplugged my clock.
- Put an Earthing mat on my bed
- Ran an air filter – and I covered up the lights with a shirt because the genius who designed this filter, put some flashing blue lights at the top, which emit light even at night.
That wasn’t enough.
Here’s what I was missing:
In the past, I’d have a morning cup of coffee, and then another after lunch. Usually around 2PM. Sometimes closer to 3PM. This wasn’t a problem before. However, through testing, I’ve discovered this afternoon cup of coffee contributed to me waking up around 2-3AM. Per my friend’s suggestion, I eliminated the afternoon coffee.
It worked. I’ve more-or-less slept through the night since then.
And now that I’m feeling the difference (and fondly remembering all the days I began well-rested) I’m on a rampage.
What I’m doing now:
- Experimenting with eye patches to completely block light when I’m in bed.
- Putting a salt lamp nightlight in my bathroom, so I don’t have to turn on my regular, bright lights when taking my evening shower.
- Using calming essential oils at night.
- Installing Twilight on my phone, a program similar to fl.ux that works on a Samsung. Not that I’m using my phone much at all at night, however I do program my morning alarm then and even if there’s a chance I do more, I want the blue light blocked.
- Gradually lowering the temperature in my bedroom.
- Wearing the same sleepwear as Tom Brady, which apparently emits far-infrared energy into your body, to reduce inflammation and regulate cell metabolism. The concept actually has research behind it (see here). What the heck. I’ll try it. I’m sure wearing this sort of thing was crucial for Tom landing Gisele Bündchen.
Because of this sleep improvement, I’m also testing an increase in my workout schedule. I used to do HIIT training with three days of rest in between sessions. I’m reducing that to two.
Long-term, I’m moving closer to nature and away from the city.
But wherever I end up… if you find me and I’m sleeping… don’t wake me up!
UPDATE On 2-4-17:
I was wrong.
After a couple more days of restricting my caffeine intake, and failing to sleep through the night, I realized late-day caffeine was not the culprit. After consulting with someone, I tested something else:
For several days, I cut off all eating after 2PM. My sleep immediately improved and has remained that way. Even when I drink coffee up to 2PM. So now I’m testing the waters to see if I can eat certain foods later in the day. Either way, I’m thrilled I found the answer and am enjoying the benefits of more restful sleep.