New Sleep Regime, Number X

November 14, 2011 at 7:45 PM | Posted in Sleep | 9 Comments
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Two weeks ago I left the office at 5 PM for an 8 PM flight; this is an hour longer than usual but with the anticipated heavy traffic I decided to give myself space. I was tired after two specially short sleeping nights and a huge wave of tiredness came over me as I hit the first traffic jam and I decided to get off at the next exit and take a short nap. That worked.

It only struck me days later that I might not have pulled over had I not had that extra hour in hand. What would have happened then?

The next day I was in the library perusing and came across The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan by Michael Breus with Debra Fulghum-Bruce. I wasn’t interested in a diet but thought perhaps there might be some clue to my sleep issues in food. The book is like other sleep books – and I have read many – and before long I was skimming. But then I hit upon his best tips, the key 5:

  1. Be consistent in your sleep habits — when you go to bed and wake up. (This is challenging.)
  2. No caffeine after 2 PM (no problem).
  3. No alcohol with 3 hours of bed (some issues but generally do-able).
  4. Go for a 15 minute walk in the morning to get sun. (walk is fine but sun in Michigan and Chicago?)
  5. No exercising 4 hours before sleep. (no problem as I work out much earlier.)

What most struck me was the doc’s insistence on 7.5 hours sleep.

I preach that in order to change, one must change. Like many, I’ve bathed in my problem, luxuriated in it. But I had realized that I could kill someone in the process, so change it has to be. I decided to re-order my priorities from: coffee, workout, sleep if it happens to sleep, coffee and then workout.

It is one thing to say you’ll sleep for 7.5 hours and another to do it. So, I’ve begun by committing to staying in bed (save a trip to the loo) for the full time. Three days in and I’m getting kind of excited.

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  1. I found it impossible to get more tham 7 hrs sleep when I was working & also running in the morning. If I got up at 5:15 am for a run, that would mean I’d have to be sound asleep by 9:45pm if I were to get 7.5 hrs sleep. And, if your partner isn’t a runner, and goes to bed later, I found it makes it even more unlikely. Good Luck ! Let us know how it goes.

  2. I’ve too recommendations: 1) Meditation works wonders for me. Takes a time commitment of about 30-45 minutes (I do it right in bed), but has always yielded results. Option 2) I’ve found that having a newborn in the home has resolved some of my sleeping issues (but created a few new ones).

    Best of luck…lack of sleep is terrible, and a cumulative affect that needs serious attention. It may even be worth a sleep clinic test to make certain it isn’t something more serious!

    • Tony, thanks for taking the time to write. I do meditate in the morning but have used in lately at night. I can’t say it has worked yet, as in put me back to sleep, but it is a pleasant distraction.

      I’ll see where these 5 steps take me. How is the baby and your wife?

      • I tend to do a body scan followed by a more traditional relaxation/breathing technique on a DVD by Maritza. Let me know how the 5 steps works. If you have trouble with the walking/sun, they have some decent “daylight” lamps that may work well in tandem with a treadmill…not the best alternate, but my help. I may try that as well!

        Andrew and Trish are doing wonderful…Truly blessed with a mild mannered, very happy child that sleeps and eats well. A little tiring, but well worth the effort!

      • thanks for the tips and I’m glad that all is well on the homefront!

  3. You took a nap on the way to the airport?!!! That is something I could never do.

    Couldn’t do the ‘no caffeine after 2 pm’ either.

    Try camamile tea at bedtime – very relaxing, and not too diuretic.

    • my eyes were closing. had to get off the road. Nap is a slight overstatement though I did sleep for 5 minutes or so.

  4. Thanks Tom…I will give the five steps some serious thought (and effort), although consistency (#1) has never been one of my strengths…Now that it is causing me some physical ailments, though, I’m more motivated to try…

    • Yes, consistency (the hobgobblin’) is the biggest problem though finding sun in the AM is no small feat as well.


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