Insomnia Relief – Week One

by Josh Hanagarne on August 4, 2010

Yesterday I asked you all for feedback on the possible reasons for insomnia. No surprises, but it turns out that I’m not the only one having trouble sleeping. At the time of this writing, there were only a couple of people who said that they have never needed to seek a cure for insomnia, and that they were flying up in that rarefied air where people drift off in an instant.

But I’m going to put aside my insane jealousy for today’s post and brief you on the upcoming experiment. I want to sleep better. I’ve said this a lot (and meant it a lot) but talk is cheap and I honestly haven’t put the effort into my insomnia treatments that I could have.

If I put half the effort into resting that I did into my kettlebells or strength training, I’d probably be sleeping 19 hours a night. But as one of my most astute readers commented once, regret is the misuse of imagination.

So no more regrets, no more words, it’s time for actions. Here is the plan which I will be working off of. I’m going to try not to add everything at once, because I want to know which variables actually result in better sleeping. Once I am associating a particular action with an increase or decrease in sleep relief, I’ll modify it slightly and proceed.

I’m going to run this experiment formally over the next 30 days. My timeline may change–I’ve got a vacation coming up in about 48 hour that will screw up my sleep schedule but good–but I’m determined to beat this.

Here is what’s coming:

Week one

No caffeine after One Pm. I drink too much diet soda. Cutting it back will save me money and hopefully make me sleep better. I’m tackling this first because it will be the hardest step for me to take.

It’s lame and I’m weak on this front, which is the best reason to beat it. I wrote once that if you’re a slave to anything–whether it’s a cookie, a drink, a cigarette, a woman, etc–that if you can’t turn it down, you’re not completely free.

I am currently not free. I depend on caffeine and I suspect that a great deal of my sleep disorder nonsense stems from the simple fact that I have chosen not to wean myself off the bubbles.

I’m not planning on giving it up completely, but I am going to dial it back and have one pm be my cutoff point.

Looking ahead to week two

I’ll reevaluate seven days from now, but in week two, the battle for sleep will be fought on the get in bed on time front. I’m not going to quit reading in bed yet, but I’m going to get on a better schedule, just to see if it helps.

But first, the caffeine. Thanks for all the feedback yesterday. For me it was one of the most helpful discussion we have had here. Much appreciated.

To bed!

Josh

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Todd August 4, 2010 at 6:00 am

Josh, it looks like a good start. Have you considered taking melatonin prior to bed time? My lovely bride has just started taking it on advice from one of her doctors.

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Danielle August 4, 2010 at 8:14 am

I hope your new plan helps. Insomnia sucks! I have suffered from it pretty much my whole life. About 4 years ago I gave up and asked my dr for medication. I am ok with taking it forever. Good sleep is just too important.
For you, I wonder if it will be more helpful just to limit the number of sodas and forget about the time cut off (at least at first). I know that I tend to rebel when create new rules. I get resentful and unhappy and focused on the can’t have/denying myself and negatives. If I make it too hard in the beginning, I set myself up to fail.
Maybe start simpler…today I have 5 instead of 6, tomorrow the same, then 4 instead of 5, etc.
Good luck!

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Ry St August 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

A few months back, I developed an eyelid twitch, so I went cold turkey on caffeine.

That was a really, really rough couple of weeks, but I felt so much better afterwards.

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John August 4, 2010 at 11:05 am

Best of luck Josh…I hope it helps! I gave up soft drinks about 3 years ago and have limited my caffeine intake to coffee in the morning at work and then it’s water the rest of the day until I get home. It was tough getting away from soft drinks (especially at restaurants, for some reason the fountain drinks always taste better than the cans), but now I am at the point where if I ever do take a sip it has no appeal to me. All it does is leave a sticky film on my teeth. Not sure I’ll ever be able to kick the coffee, or if I want to :-)

Let us know how the experiment goes.

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Bamboo Forest - Tick Tock Timer August 4, 2010 at 11:21 am

I read somewhere that you shouldn’t be on the computer right up to going to sleep because the light from the monitor makes your brain think it’s still day time out. I can’t find the article, but I believe that’s what it said.

I think you should institute at least a 30 minutes routine that you do every night to mentally prepare your body for sleeping. And it shouldn’t involve the computer screen. I think a routine that preps you for sleep will help if done consistently.

When improving sleep, I think consistency is vital because it can be a 3 feet forward 2 feet back kind of thing and the results show after consistent effort over a long period.

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Frank Hanagarne August 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Hi Josh,

I wish there was someway you could go to sleep fast like I am able. Ask mom.

Love you

Dad

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Josh Hanagarne August 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Me too. You never get tired of remind me, do you?

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Martin @ Insomnia Land August 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Any updates on this, John?

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Josh Hanagarne August 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm

1. You probably mean Josh, right?
2. Yes. I’ll have an update tomorrow, in fact:)

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Martin @ Insomnia Land August 26, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Ach! My profuse apologies – nothing makes me hate myself more than messing up someone’s name!

I look forward to the update! Do you plan to keep going until you find a cure?!

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Josh Hanagarne August 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Profuse is overdoing it, Martin. Don’t hate yourself for too long. Yeah, I’m hoping to figure it out, but as you’ll see with the update, I’m having some trouble applying my usual iron will to this one area of life.

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