I’ve never had a great relationship with sleep. I’ve gone through a few distinctive cycles in my life. When I was a teenager I slept ALL THE TIME. I was probably sleeping more hours than I was awake. In my early 20’s, just as I was beginning to get a handle on my ups and downs with my bipolar disorder I went through a year of having nightmares damn near every night. That led me to read a book about a supplement/brain chemical called 5-HTP as well as some experimentation with lucid dreaming (a terrible idea). In my mid-twenties when I was working my Monday-Friday 9-5 cush job I could afford to have erratic sleeping patterns and to allow my natural night owl to go wild, routinely staying up to 2am and struggling to get up at 7:30am to get ready for work. On Sundays, I would sleep just like a teenager, wasting half my day.
When I began my personal fitness trainer career my schedule all of a sudden became the accommodation of everyone else’s. Needed me to be at work for a 5:30am session, no problem! Needed me there to train at 11pm, sure, I’m a rock star; no problem! My record was 4 years ago where I trained 12 one-on-one clients in 16 hours. I’m awesome, right??
I am convinced that all of us have one major “flaw” or thing we do that ruins 80% of our lives’ goals and dreams. If we could “fix” that one thing, we would quite simply improve 80% of what we don’t accomplish, what we procrastinate and we’d make better choices. Think about it…what’s that one thing for you? It could be your crappy eating. It could be your pessimism. It could be your lack of exercise. It could be your indecisiveness or fear of risk.
For me it is sleep. If I stay up too late, generally I’m tired the next day (duh). But somehow I also didn’t prep my food for the next day so my meals are not up to snuff. I didn’t get to do all the hygiene things I intended. I may miss a workout because I’m just too damn exhausted. I’m not as focused at work. My client’s notice when I’m tired. My lady and our relationship suffers as well for when I’m finally done work and it’s time for us to be together, I’m usually passing out on the couch. All while proclaiming “why are there not enough hours in a day!”
My lack of sleep management has f**ked up near everything I feel has gone the wrong way in my life. Jobs, relationships, goals, dreams…everything!
From Zeo to Zen – The Project
As the start of this year, on Facebook I saw a really weird picture (below) on the always interesting Mike T Nelson’s page. If you’re on Facebook, he’s worth the add for interesting health stuff he puts out.
This looks cool and complicated…right up my alley!
I did some Google searching and found the source of this info and it’s a product called the Zeo Sleep Manager. It really rung home for me as a way to not only commit myself to overcoming this sleep deficit (read: PROBLEM!) in my life but to also do as I love: experiment with my body and learn about it.
I always thought it would be cool to go into a sleep lab and be hooked up to a bunch of machines and have them spit out some information about what’s going down in the mousetrap of a brain I got upstairs. But part of me knew it wouldn’t really be accurate as I’m very particular about how I sleep. It’s gotta be with the right pillow, a fan on, temperature cool and my lady in my arms. Not really the type of sleep environment sleep labs offer.
What do you mean I can wear this funny looking (read: never getting laid at 3am ever again) gizmo on my forehead and when I wake it’ll tell me cool stuff about what just happened when I went to Neverland? Sign me up!
It’s been four months and for the better part of it, I’ve done next to nothing except wear the gizmo and really try to get to bed earlier after I realized how much I was sucking at sleeping in Jan/Feb (<5.5hrs/night). I had to understand what my baseline was before I go messing with it.
The Point of the Project
I’ve pretty much already alluded to my desire to learn just what happens while I’m sleeping. But also, I’m after the elusive formula. If I go to bed at X time and sleep for Y hours, attaining a minimum of Z hours worth of deep and REM sleep then I shall wake feeling rested, ready for my day and sans bag-under-thy-eyes.
I don’t know what that number is. I hear people lay claim to it all the time: “If I don’t get my 8 hours, I’m useless.” “I only need 4 good hours and I’m golden!” I call bullshit. Where’s your frame of reference? Have you tested it every way you can think of?
I’ve read some of the science on how long we “should” be sleeping as well as some sleep history that was really of interest, especially biphasic sleeping. But at the end of the day I don’t know what Adrian needs, even after 33 years. Sounds like a challenge worth tackling.
I don’t want to drag out this initial introduction to the experiment out. I will get into an official product review of the Zeo Mobile Sleep Manager which I simply hook up to my iPhone each night.
I will also be using the Zeo to check how various sleep and other supplements can/will affect my sleep. And lastly I will be sharing tips, tricks and valuable experience I learn on how to improve sleep as I hear all too often:
So am I, my friends. I’m tired of being tired.