I wrote the post about The Mental Talk of Sleep only a few days ago, and it seems that I’m now the subject of my own article. Bummer.
Last night, I listened to an isochronic track for Insomnia (SleepTracks) before heading off to bed. During the final few minutes of the track (it’s twenty two minutes in length), I almost dozed off – so I was fairly tired.
When the Insomnia track ended, I headed up to bed. While laying there, I listened to the Fall Asleep track from Sleeptracks as well. It was in the middle of this fifty minute session that things fell apart. I was awake and becoming more alert as the track ended. I must have drifted in and out of light sleep a couple of times after that, but at 3:30am I got up and went downstairs for a little while.
I was back in bed at 4am, and then got up and out of bed at 8am.
In my frustration at 3:30am, I took off my Zeo Sleep Monitor (headband) because I couldn’t deal with the ZQ (sleep quality) number I was likely to get in the morning. As of 3:30am, it had logged a ZQ of 26 (a good night for me would be in the high 70′s).
How To Rebound From Poor Sleep Quality
This has been nine days in a row of really below-average or downright awful sleep. It’s almost at the point of self-fulfilling, as I find myself conscious of the fear of going to bed. I know that this is a bad sign, and I need to get out of this funk as quickly as I can.
This whole insomnia thing is a journey for me, so bear with me as I experiment on myself. Here’s what I’m proposing to myself to do (hopefully writing it down here will help in the execution of this plan):
Get up religiously at 7:30am. Before the Christmas Holiday, I was doing pretty good at this – and the sleep was progressing quite nicely. I was often having very good nights, and the occasional personal best. I’ve been quite loose with the wake up times in the last couple of weeks, varying about an hour – that has to stop.
Go to bed at a fixed, regular time. The Zeo Coaching that I’ve had has recommended a target bedtime of 11:45pm, with a nice relaxing plan to get ready for bed starting at 10:45pm. This one will be tougher for me because I really get sleepy around 10pm, and am anxious to get to bed about 10:30pm. The Zeo stats are unclear about this target bedtime – it seems a bit earlier or a bit later generally result in better sleep, but 11:45pm does seem a good time – that gives me just shy of 8 hours in bed:
Get morning light. When I get up in the morning (here in Vancouver), it’s still a half-hour before sunrise. So, although it is light outside, it’s not that bright and the house is still dark like a cave. I constructed a home-made light box last year and I have to dig it out again and get a good half-hour of intense light in order to shut off that melatonin production (if I even have any!).
I’ve got to get exercise every single day, for at least a half hour a day. On Tuesday night I had a swimming lesson from 8pm-9pm, and was in bed at 10:30pm, so it’s no wonder that I had a bad night (too stimulated, and body temperature too high right before bed). Yesterday, I did no real exercise (except cleaning out the garage – but that’s not very sustained or very cardiovascular), so last night’s sleep is not a complete surprise.
Even though I’m not sure it will help, I’m going to listen to the Insomnia Buster track from SleepTracks every night for the next 30 days before bedtime, during the “ramp down” period from 10:45pm-11:45pm. I’ve done this before, with limited success, but I’m going to give it another shot.
Again, unsure if this will help but I’m going to try it for 30 days – Zeo has sent me a couple of relaxation tracks to play while I’m resting in bed, ready for sleep. There’s a Physical Relaxation one and a Mental Relaxation track. Once the track is done (I’ll pick one or the other), I’ll put on the headband and go to sleep (hopefully!).
Finally, I’m going to review the SleepTracks Optimal Sleep Course again. It’s a refresher for me, and something I haven’t gone all the way through for about eight months (it’s several hours). Yan Muckle at SleepTracks has put together these videos to teach you all about Sleep Waves, Supercharging Your Days and Nights, Taking Control of Your Sleep, Getting Rid of the Sleep Enemies, and Effective Napping. It’s really good stuff, and I’m sure the refresher will be time well spent. I’ve said this before – highly recommended.
The Optimal Sleep Program For Me?
So my re-optimization program is really quite easy, and the hardest parts will be staying up and getting up:
- Get up at 7:30am.
- Go to sleep at 11:45pm.
- Get morning light (light-box).
- Get exercise every day – late afternoon is best.
- Listen to Insomnia Buster track late in evening.
- Into bed at 11:35pm – listen to Physical Relaxation or Mental Relaxation tracks.
- Review Optimal Sleep Course
I will force myself to stick with this “program” for the next 30 days, and with a little luck I will show a marked improvement in the ZQ scores I’ve been getting over the last couple of weeks.
A big part of this sleep issue, I’m sure, is the lack of a robust routine. There is always an excuse for going to bed a bit earlier, or sleeping in a few minutes, or skipping exercise for one day, or not turning on the light box in the morning, or whatever. The excuse-making has to stop, because it’s affecting me in a very real way.
We all need sleep, and mine could use quite an improvement.