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Updates in Progress

April 11, 2009

The Sleep Guru’s Blog has been put in a holding pattern as other project’s take priority. We are upgrading the WordPress.com blog, creating a new thesleepguru.com site and creating a new special, ‘how to sleep better’ product that we will giveaway to the first 100 people that request it.

So, The Sleep Guru is still following through on the 24×7 total sleep project and is working at building a base that will be shared with all.

Stay tuned…….

My CPAP is making me sleepy…..

February 18, 2009

My CPAP is making me sleepy…..

 

Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

Yes, it is.  However, it seems that I am not getting the benefits, but instead feel more fatigued instead of less fatigued the days after using my CPAP breathing apparatus that is designed to solve the Sleep Apnea problem that plagues me.   This is wearing me out physically and psychologically; I have discussed it with my doctor in the past and now with my DME (durable medical equipment) supplier, i.e., local CPAP expert at the pharmacy.

Now I share it with you as well as sleep apnea forums. 

Sleep Apnea is a characterized by a cessation of breathing during the night which causes disturbed sleep, higher blood pressure, diabetes and a host of other health problems surrounded by being sleep deprived and tired all the time.  For me, it happens every 2 minutes or so as proven in 2 separate Sleep Lab tests called polysomnography studies.  You will find a lot written about the technical parts of this later in this blog as well as in articles and links that I will post.  Basically, the back of the soft palate in your throat closes down as you relax in your sleep state, thereby, closing the breathing airway in your throat.  You then cease to breath until the pressure – and, your blood pressure – builds to a point that you choke yourself awake.

Now to the CPAP. 

This is a mask with a constant air pressure that is designed to keep the airway open such that you breathe normally all night and do not interrupt your sleep.  It is an effective method of treatment for many, although wearing the mask (called compliance in treatment terms) is often a problem.  For me, it has been an interminable issue as I am also someone with onset insomnia problems.

As I am actively making every effort to promote good sleep habits, I also am practicing the same, which of course, must include putting a concerted effort into using my sleep mask.   This week, it has caused me the worst 2-3 days of fatigue and lack of motivation that I have felt in some while. 

This is contradictory to what I expect and wanted.  You see, I finally I have a mask that is comfortable to use.  In the past, I would be bothered by air leaks in the eyes, headaches from the hard plastic or sore nostrils from the nasal type masks; these would all make it difficult to use the mask through a 6-8 hours sleep; often, I would become aggravated after being in bed for an hour or longer without gaining sleep with the mask being the primary cause of the awakened state.  Other times, I would wake up and violently remove the mask as it was bringing me great discomfort or alarm as sometimes your mask will be incorporated into a dream and ‘freak me out’.  Still, other times, the mask would end up in the floor without my knowledge of when or how it happened during the night.

Alas, others are friends with their CPAP; some love them – me, I hate mine – or at least I did.

My new mask, the Mirage Quattro Full Face mask is quite comfortable.  I don’t have any problems with fit, leaks or discomfort and can wear it a full night.

However, as a man who studies himself, keeps a journal in great detail in preparation for the greatest one man sleep study ever undertaken, I am quite cognizant of my quality, quantity and perception of my sleep as well as making detailed analyses of the quality of my alertness, physical state, mental capacity and emotional well-being/mood during each day.  This is then correlated to every thing else I do such as exercise or food choices.

For now, it seems – as it has in the past, that my current apnea treatment is an anomaly and aberrrant.  This intrigues me as much as it frustrates me.

I will close today, by saying that my abilities today have suffered.   A normal day would bring greater clarity of thought and an ease of writing; tonight, I struggle to keep the thoughts cogent and clear – are they?

This blog is about the every day efforts to learn how to sleep better, through good and bad days, and how to take the appropriate measures to increase the effectiveness of each night such that my days, our days can be filled with energy such that I, we can fulfill our potentials in life.  Thus, I have to write about the bad days and during the bad days – or comment about how last week I missed posting to this blog due to extreme fatigue – but we soldier on in our mission to be better and do better.  Yes.

Bear with me; encourage me as I seek to encourage you; let us share with each other and grow as these inconsistencies, ironies, abberations such as a CPAP compliant apnea patient feeling worse and being more fatigued when he follows the prescribed treatment is brought from the unknown to a positive solution.

This is but one more step, one more reason why the full 24×7 project will be one of great discovery.

Till next time,

The sleep guru in training, measuring each night, seeking to find the answers,

Clay

I WELCOME ALL COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS!!  This blog will soon become a full fledged website full of more materials, links, articles, definitions and even product reviews.  Let me know what you like or want and I will try to add it in.

 

This ‘sleepy boy’ has Sleep Apnea

February 14, 2009

Let’s talk about Sleep Apnea tonight.

 

I have it.  I am not a typical candidate.  I was shocked to find out (6 years ago) from a new girlfriend that I ‘stopped breathing’ in the night. 

 

I said to myself, “this sounds like sleep apnea”, but I couldn’t have that for I was young (reasonably so) and in great shape.  At the time, I was exercising intensely on a regular basis, had approximately an 11-12% body fat on a 6 ft, 182-185 lb athletic body.  Supposedly, Apnea patients were overweight, out of shape, no exercising, older men — not me. 

 

I knew all this, you see, because I had been studying sleep for a long time by then, and I even was tracking my own sleep in a journal as well as studying books, tv shows, and on the internet in preparation for designing and engineering the ‘total sleep system’ that I had envisioned for about 3 years at that time.  This total sleep system will improve every part of your life and it is coming, the technology is here, now and you will be a part of the process as I will be writing about this system and how it will come about very soon.  This is part of the 24×7 project that this blog will follow, week by week.

 

In 1999, I had also written a promotional brochure about the problems of Sleep in America which sold more than 100,000 copies – these clearly detailed the issues that we all face, for we all know someone that is suffering from poor sleep, insomnia and, yes, even sleep apnea.  We all know someone, many people, more likely.

 

So, given my absolute desire to see how a sleep lab worked, and not fully believing that I could have sleep apnea, I went to the clinic and was studied for a full night and day to determine my daytime sleepiness as well.  

 

The end result, as quoted by my nurse and sleep lab clinician, ‘you are a really sleepy boy’.  That was the result of the MSLT.  This is a Multiple Sleep Latency Test that is administered during the day at regular intervals wherein you are told to ‘try’ to go to sleep.  Then, you are measured to see if you actually do go to sleep and how long it takes to do so.  A questionnaire is given to you such that you can rate your experience. 

 

Mine?  I thought that I maybe went to sleep 1 time during the 4 different sessions spread throughout the day (up to 2pm, as I recall).  The real results?  I fell asleep all 4 times within 5 minutes.

 

And, yes, I had Moderate to Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  I basically quit breathing approximately every 2 minutes all night, like having my airways held shut until I would violently gasp through the choking to grab a much needed breath.

 

Thus, ‘you are a really sleep boy’.

 

As I am tired, now; and, I fear the writing is poor, I will wait until next time to give a full explanation of the MSLT, the Sleep Lab test, a good explanation of what Sleep Apnea is and how it is most currently treated, via the CPAP – a Continuous, Positive Airway Pressure mask that keeps air flowing directly to the nose and/or mouth such that you ‘don’t stop breathing’ during the night.

 

(note: the above was originally written, Feb 10, but did not get posted.  Now, 4 days later, it is revisited and posted.  We all struggle sometimes to maintain our efforts through the fog of fatigue; this blog is a living example of that continued fight to do all we can do, each day.  Some days, some weeks will be better than others, thus, the true value of the effort is one that is ‘a real life example’ that everyone can relate to……)

 

Until next time, sleep well….. 

 

Clay

“Thesleepguru in training”, a living self-experiment on a path to becoming a champion of sleep

 

By the way….

Today, Feb 14, is my father’s birthday.  Happy birthday Dad!! 

And, my grandfather as well, Happy Birthday Grandpa!

 

I hope you both live long, healthy lives – 100 years and more.

 

I am grateful that you are both here to see me succeed this year and beyond in my quest to bring better sleep to everyone through this intense 24×7 project, thesleepguru.com blog & website and the continued, daily study of everything about sleep that I have undertaken.  These efforts are as much for you, my family as it is for all the families that will gain from even 1 father or grandfather – or son, or grandson — learning what it takes to sleep well and live with more energy, a better mood and greater productivity every day — especially those who don’t know what they are missing in life!

 

I can’t wait to see the pride in your eyes when this 24×7 project first reaches the mainstream – the first media report, perhaps, or when the first proof that all this effort will produce even some of the results I envision.   I will be a part of the evolution of technology creating ‘the amniotic universe’ as we meld it all together for the brain/body bedroom of my 22nd century dreams.

 

Alive and having fun in the year 2101!  Ya’ aa’ tey.

 

Happy birthday!!

12 Yr Old Insomniac & his Closet Brownie Dough Stash: say what?

February 8, 2009

A 12 Yr Old Insomniac & his Closet Brownie Dough Stash: say what?

 

Tonight’s entry will be brief.   I want to start to explain the purpose behind this blog and all that it will entail in the year to come.  The next 2 posts should help to set the stage.

Some posts will be similar to journal or diary entries; others will be related to a specific target subject dealing with sleep and stress management or productivity, motivation and inner peace; but, I will try to do both at the same time as continuous theme of the overall blog is to be fun & informative as I do 2 things:

1.    Share my story as I struggle to gain energy and productivity in my life while overcoming a serious, longterm problem with sleep that leads to too many lost days.

 

Here is a quick summary of some basics:

 I believe, as do most everyone that knows me, that I am a lucky, talented, intelligent man that was given much.   And, to those who are given much, great things are expected.

 

 It is time to deal with my greatest obstacles and produce that which I am destined to do.  I consider the sleep problems that have plagued me since I was young to be the biggest thing to overcome. 

 

By the age of 12, there were doctor visits & diet restrictions –which lead to…

*(a quick story, I just must: I wasn’t allowed any chocolate, cola, sugar, caffeine as part of my sleep problem treatment, but I loved chocolate, so I used to get up in the middle of the night and make brownies from scratch, great recipe which I will share later – then not cook them, but eat a bunch of the dough, then use old containers to store them in my closet for later, clean everything up and put it all back in its place – all by hand, all in the dark, all quiet as a church mouse – the first time went smooth, but the 2nd time, my mom busted me and to this day, other than the 2 boxes of jello pudding mix gone, I don’t know how she could have caught me by deducing something was amiss the next day and investigating to the point of finding my ‘brownie dough stash hidden in the closet’)

…back to things in my life as the result of incessant insomnia by age of 12…

giving me my own room by re-arranging the house so my brother would have a separate room,

 a 72+ hr no sleep self-experiment that I conducted without anyone else knowing,

a lightning quick, 2 am grandfather clock smashing,

and the advent of the ‘sleep vent air conditioning sleep tent’,

just to name some things from the early years of the insomniac of all insomniac’s battle against the the sandman.

 

So, you might or might not consider it ironic that my greatest desire is to work in the world of sleep.  I have an engineering background and a desire to create a total sleep system that will help change the way all people approach sleep.

 

This part is of motivation and inspiration.  I hope that soon, others will draw from my experiences a drive to change how they view sleep, change, adapt and prosper as never before.  This is both advocacy and leadership.

The second part of my Sleep Guru Blog Story: 

2.   Educate and impart knowledge such that you, too, will recognize specific mechanisms of good and poor quality sleep in your life and all those around you.  And, you will be equipped with the knowledge, mechanisms and tools to do something positive about it. 

Then, as we all should do, we complete the circle that makes us special as humans:

First, be curious, explore, seek to understand;

then, learn, practice, grow, get better;

followed by, reach out, seek others, share, help, teach;

continue to contribute to your circle, your community;

take the lead, act as a leader;

and, as others learn and grow, we find ourselves once again exploring, seeking to understand how to be better, get better and the cycle begins again.

We become curious as to the next stage and how good life can become – day by day, and in every way getting better and better.

*(this little mantra is paraphrased from some self-help course or courses – I would say that it comes from either, or both, Brian Tracy or Earl Nightingale – any of the productions of these men, available in Nightingale-Conant productions or a variety of sales channels are very worthwhile….the original statement is from a study done in a hospital circa 1900 wherein the patients are proactively taught to self-affirm, self-program themselves each day by repeating over and over out loud, “every day and in every way, I am getting better and better.”  These men saying this improved significantly more, quicker and with greater recovery than other patients of a similar malady.  **I will look this up and verify the original study ??emile lazaroff?? and the source wherein I first heard it.  Hopefully, I can do this before too long – or A COMMENT from a helpful reader???**)

I will close today by saying that this last week was very slow for me.  I was very fatigued.   But I kept to my fundamental good habits of getting up at the same time every day, getting as much light either naturally or through using light therapy throughout the morning, and maintaining a personal journal to keep my motivation focused.  It worked.  Even on the slow days, I stayed on course. 

And, for what I hope is going to be a very regular part of a formally irregular life, I am falling asleep without the help of outside forces and I am starting to feel better and better each day.  That is my goal for you.  To have all of us start finding a rhythm and routine that we can live by as it starts to fuel us in our search for energy, productivity and happiness.

Routine.  Daily Habits.  Rhythms in life.

These are omnipotent, all important – and this comes from an adventurous, free thinking, never want a regular 9-5 job, quit good jobs, atypical, anti-routine guy as you might ever meet.

Believe me.  Routines are going to let me Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and hike in the Himalayas – or maybe even go back to the Amazon Rainforest or play the didgeridoo in Darwin some day soon.  

Routines are what makes ‘IT’ happen in life.  Without doing the small things every day in the right way we will never get to do any of the big things we dream about.  Believe me:  I have already wasted too much time figuring out this very true fact.  And, I am adapting to the best strategy. 

So, here is a Mi HA! to making it happen everyday through the small actions of routines, especially a morning routine.

 

Okay, so it did not turn out too short in length or the time for me to write it.  Yes, this is a day by day experience that we are having here – learning one step at a time.

I hope if you have read this far, you will stay with me as this will start really coming together soon with side articles and the side stories.

 

For now, here is the brownie recipe.  It is awesome.  It could win you much favor – whether it is for you children or for a friendly lass……..yes, I am a single man, too.

Closet Brownie Stash Recipe

2 boxes of heat and cook Jello chocolate pudding mix.  Darker the better.  They don’t make real good, dark chocolate versions, so…..

I now add 1-2 heaping tablespoons of Cocoa.  (this is my preference, added to original recipe)

1 1/3 cup sugar.

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 eggs, depending on size.

1 to 1 ¼ stick margarine.  The extra 1/8 to at most ¼ stick makes it easier to beat and pour into the pan while also making it super moist and densely delicious later.

9×12 or 8x 14 baking dish/pan.

1 big mixing bowl.  1 smaller bowl, if desire.

Here is how I like to do it.

Pre-heat oven to 350.

1.    I cut up the margarine in slices and put in a pan over low heat.  Cutting them ensures that they will melt quicker (heating principle, lower energy consumption, big picture) and that the consistency will be similar throughout.

2.   Put all the white, dry ingredients together.  Sift the flower in.  Mix in the sugar and pudding mix.  Mix well,  then add in the baking soda and the cocoa.

3.   In a separate bowl (or you can just start to mix in main, big bowl) beat eggs.   Add margarine.

4.   Pour in eggs and margarine into main bowl, whiskey in by center and working until all is good consistency.  You can use whisk or even forks or other utensil to make sure it is quiet for late night, sneaky stash mixing – or you can use modern powered mixer.

5.   Last I put in the vanilla and mix it in.

6.   Use the wrapper from the margarine stick to grease the bottom of the pan, the sift in some flower, shake and rattle it around such that most or all of the surface area is covered to prevent overstickiness.

7.   Pour, spoon, spatula in the batter and spread evenly.

8.   Bake for 22-25 minutes depending on altitude and your oven.  Check with toothpick.  When it pulls out clean without it being gooey, it is done.

Of course, gooey, slightly undercooked, hot brownies with a bowl of vanilla ice cream is an absolutely fantastic treat which takes me back to my days in college with my buddies ……

 

OKAY.  The end for Feb 7th post.  This brownie recipe and the introduction of some of the sleep stories to come is just the first of many extra add-ins — just for fun – but still tied to the sleep quest which we have begun here on The Sleep Guru Blog. 

Whether it is the best brownies ever, or the latest thoughts of an extremently active, sleep world focused mind, The Sleep Guru Blog will always have something more for you to ‘chew’ on……

Clay

February 6, 2009

‘Let there be light’ and so began life; so begins the energy for our days

 

For all the sleep deprived, the most important rule is to adhere to a regular awakening time. 

The second part of this rule is to turn off the sleep clock, the ‘darkness hormone’ melatonin such that our alertness mechanisms and brain chemistry can automatically be ‘let loose’ to do its thing: Wake us UP! – and, get us all bright-eyed and ready to go for the day.  How do we do this best?

Through letting in the light.  By getting immediate and sustained exposure to sunlight, we activate eon’s long primal circuitry in the human brain that turns off the melatonin production that makes us tired and allows our daytime energy and alertness functions to come online and rule the day.

Sustained exposure, you say?  For how long?  Well, the minimum should be at least 15-30 minutes (or more, if possible).   The best way to accomplish this and maximize the benefits is to combine the light exposure with light exercise to jumpstart our metabolism as well.  A short, brisk walk outdoors is the best; however, this is often not possible in the modern world and especially in some climates and latitudes for every season of the year.  Thus, we must do our best to use the modern day tools that are available.

My #1 sleep and energy tool is light therapy boxes.  I have been using a variety of these boxes for years now, and I truly believe that they help me to get going in the morning, stay more alert in the afternoon and assist in establishing and maintaining a regular body clock and sleep schedule. 

I suffer from light deprivation.  This is a human reaction to the winter wherein we do not get enough exposure to sunlight, thereby, changing how our body, brain and mood are regulated.  For many people, the winter has brought about ‘the winter blues’, but for me and 13-18% of the world (I believe a conservative estimate), it is more serious.   The more serious version of this is called Seasonal Affectation Disorder or S.A.D. for short.

S.A.D. is aptly named as it will make you sad – altering your mood and energy levels and even resulting in chronic depression in many people; the primary characteristics of this affliction or condition is depression, fatigue and poor sleep – often, too much sleep or hypersomnia.  People in northern latitudes from those in the northern U.S. states, to Canada and Alaska to the Scandanavian countries and their fellow neighbors in Europe all experience higher depression and suicide rates in the winter as compared to lower latitudes and summer time.

What can we do?  Use light therapy. 

Use it every day – especially if you think you suffer from a dislike of too much darkness.  I prefer 2 brands of light therapy boxes over all others at this time: both of these use a specific wavelength of ‘blue light’ (I know, irony that the winter blues are solved by blue light, no….life has its moments that make us smile, J); any way, this blue light wavelength specifically targets the retina and the mechanism in the retina that activates a signal down the chain, in the brain to the body clock regulator (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus or SCN) and ‘presto, change-o’, the darkness hormone melatonin’s production is shut down for the day – but, just like everything in life, it doesn’t happen in an instant, but requires a certain time – at least 15-30 minutes (or more for some) to make the changeover in the shiftwork of the brain hormones.

The best light box for me is The Litebook.  The litebook is portable, lightweight and does not use as much energy as other models due to its LED technology and concentrated wavelength scientific basis.  It also has a battery for up to 2 hours of non-electric cord, unplugged use anywhere you please.  I often carry it around from room to room with me, or place it on my treadmill for the combination exercise and light exposure requirement that jumpstarts the morning in the best way possible for my brain, body and, yes, soul, too, as our emotional self is deeply tied into this process as well.

If you are interested in the Litebook Company or their product, you can leave a comment for me to contact you as my company** sells this product as we are dedicated to serving the sleep deprived people of the world as an outreach of my solving my own sleep issues.  Also, I will note that The Litebook Company is on the forefront of research in many areas of health other than just S.A.D. as light therapy is proving valuable in areas such as ADHD to cancer treatment.*

I look forward to filling the pages of this blog and its sister website with articles detailing many facets of what was discussed today for those prone to more explanations and science.  The main focus of this blog is to enlighten and share my story such that we may all benefit for practical every day use, motivation and community.  The need for humans to share in their struggles and successes is an innate factor in why we thrived on earth, therefore, knowing that many others are going through the same trials and tribulations of chronic poor sleep, sleep apnea, winter blues, insomnia, chronic fatigue etc., makes it our duty to help each other fight on and fight through to win the battle and become a ‘sleep champion’. 

Sleep Champion.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? 

I recall a quote from a great athlete that I will paraphrase from my memory banks: “There is no greater joy, no greater memory than when something great was achieved as part of a team.”

I urge you to bookmark this blog, to join in the community that it will become, to contribute as part of the team that will make Sleep Champions of us all.

All of what I have mentioned today is echoed by all the leading sleep researchers, experts and authors.  Some of my favorite books are listed below.   Please look into them as a valuable resource.

Again, the value of a sleep routine mirrored by its more important starting point, the morning routine anchored by a set awakening time and ‘letting there be light early in your day’ has been promoted for years by the top experts, the likes of Stanford Sleep Guru, Dr. William Dement in his book The Promise of Sleep  to Power Sleep by Cornell’s Dr. James Maas to the laypersons guide to Cognitive Behavior Therapy , Say Good Night to Insomnia by Dr. Gregg Jacobs, a disciple of The Relaxation Response founder and author, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical school acclaim.  All of these books are worthy reads and a valuable resource for anyone interested in achieving maximum quality of sleep.

*I am a scientific person by nature.  I look forward to providing detailed explanations and research articles as an adjunct to the blog as opposed to putting too much within its contexts.  This will follow as time allows.

**Likewise, I will make available products and offerings from my company, Stress-Free Living Co., outside of the blog as well for those that are interested when relevant.

Wishing everyone a good night’s sleep with its most refreshing morning, too….

Clay

Sleep guru in the making…

Mornings Full of Energy and the Most Important Sleep Rule of all…..

February 5, 2009

Mornings Full of Energy and the Most Important Sleep Rule of all…..

 

The Rule is helping.  It has got me going this morning, just like the last 2 mornings even though it was a struggle. 

The Rule is simple: get up at the same time every day, no matter what.  Get started, and go through a morning routine that will become ‘second nature’ to you, your mind, your body.  This is something I have NEVER DONE IN MY LIFE.  Even though I know, I’ve read, I’ve heard, I believe that it is the best way to ensure good health, productive days, success and longevity; I have never done it for any extended length of time.  TILL NOW.   We will track this new habit and see what the results are.

Why had I never consistently lived with a morning routine?  Partially it could be because I don’t live a normal 9 to 5 life wherein I am forced to be at work at a certain time, but this isn’t entirely true because I never had a morning routine when I had a regular job – I just did whatever I could after willing myself out of bed at the last possible second to get to work on time. 

Why?  Because of my sleep problems.  Because I am often so tired, so sleep deprived, so low in phsical, mental and ‘soulful-emothonal’ enegy that I  ‘put it off’ – allowing myself the excuse that I am too tired, so it is OK.  I blame it on the sleep thief – the energy robber – the guy in the middle of the night that sucks the lifeblood from my being.

That is how I often feel when I stumble out of bed, blearily, drearily seeking that inteminable noise blaring out of the LED’s red eyed box like a demon in the morning darkness: turn off that alarm!  And, then, the old me would go for the “SNOOZE” button and return to bed for that 9 minutes more….once, twice, maybe even three times.  (yes, by the way, I have used at least 2 alarms since my 2nd yr in college when I missed a few 8am tests by the 1 alarm method – alas, I later was to prove that even with a 2nd alarm 10 paces from my bed, I could still sleep through a quiz or two and even a final exam – more on failing Dean of Engineering, soon to be President of Virginia Tech, Dr. Torgersen’s class in a later post of my misshaps of sleep – I often turned off 2 alarms and did not ever realize or remember it – wow, was I ever sleep deprived…..at least these stories will amuse now…..back to the point.. .)

But that is old thinking.   That is short term thinking.  If you can go the few days here and there without that few extra minutes or even the extra 90 minute cycle, the long term rewards will come wherein there will be the day that you never push the snooze button – nor want to; we shall see, yes?

So, step 2 of the simple rule is to have a list of things that you can immediately do to JUMPSTART your MORNING.  For some, the thought or smell of coffee is a great pull to get the day going; for others, it could be a splash of water in the face.  For me, I make myself get into a COLD SHOWER, yes, cold to briskly shock myself awake.  It works.  It gets the blood flowing – then, a nice cup of coffee or hot tea.

Other morning jumpstart possibilities could be to immediately open blinds or use a light box to brighten the morning right away (light is VERY important, more on this soon) or maybe your favorite upbeat music can be pre-loaded, or perhaps a self-made morning motivation tape can be timed to start a minute after your alarm.  Even the potential friendly ‘nagging of a spouse’ could work, just make sure that you have something to get the momentum going in the right direction and get the body and mind started for the day.

Now, to another VERY IMPORTANT point: this is a day late!  I missed my Tuesday posting.

Why? 

My CPAP.    How could using a CPAP for a Sleep Apnea sufferer like me be the cause of such a tired, fatigue-filled and forgetful couple of days?  This is another reason for the Sleep Guru Blog ~ My Sleep Story that this blogging is all about.  This is another reason why I will undergo an absolutely intensive self-study – more than has ever been done before in the entire world of sleep, as far as I know.  I will find out all there is to know about my sleep, thereby, providing knowledge and insight for all who suffer like I do.

I use my CPAP very infrequently.  It seems that I sleep worse with it than without it.  I know that I often cannot get to sleep with it on, although with my *new mask* is much more comfortable and usable than my previous 4.  Yes, I am on my 5th mask in my 5th year of being a known Apnea patient.  It has not gone well.

Since I am training to be The Sleep Guru and undertaking a goal of great sleep, I must use my CPAP and get ‘good at it’. 

I used it 3 nights in a row and have been in a terminal daytime fog – in such a low mental capacity state that I actually forgot to write my Tuesday Blog even though I had made notes regarding the topic earlier in the day.

In fact, the last few days have been a real struggle to accomplish anything of importance.   It is like walking in mud all day long, the day full of effort getting me nowhere near as far as a normal day of walking.   It is a defeating proposition; yet, we must prevail.

Prevail we shall.  The one savior has been and will be the morning ritual – adhering to the same wake up time is allowing me to do more than in days past when I would give in to bed for an hour or two more sleep; and, the result is that last night I slept better and today was reasonably active-minded instead of addled for most of the day.

Don’t take my word for it.  Recent studies by the leading sleep experts in the world back up the importance of adhering to a morning wake up time every day.   In March 2008, while attending a National Sleep Foundation and Sleep Society seminar of the latest research, Dr. Robert Stickgold and peer researcheres SHOCKED me with the results of numerous studies which proved that just altering your schedule by sleeping in 2-3 more hours on the weekend DOES NOT help to make up your ‘sleep debt’.  Instead the extra weekend sleep causes disruption in your body clock that was proven in college students to cause a drop of performance on tests by 40%.  Scores dropped from an ‘A’ to a ‘D’ when you alter your sleep schedule significantly for a couple days in the same week.  In fact, those sleeping every day only 5 hours scored better than those sleeping 5 hours 5 days and 8 hours 2 days.  **I will verify this later with a link to the research and quotes from my seminar notes and slide handouts** 

For now, just know this: keeping a regular awakening time within 30minutes of the same time every day of the week is the easiest and most effective energy yielding habit and tool that you could possibly use in your battle to sleep better and overcome daytime fatigue.

Till next time,

Seeking the path to becoming The Sleep Guru, making the effort to bring all peaceful nights,

Clay

Aristotle said, ‘Excellent Sleep is Not an Act, But a Habit’.

February 1, 2009

Only through practice can we establish a habit.  

Whether it is a ritual or a routine, habits are formed through regular activity until it becomes ‘second nature’ to our brains and bodies – it becomes both a habit and a mindset.  But, it requires a mindset first…..so on one hand it is the chicken and egg conundrum, but on the other hand, it is a ‘zen thing’ – which, brings us back to my previous post, Aristotle and how you and I can make Excellent Sleep, Excellent Energy Levels and overall an Excellent life ‘second nature’ in our busy lives.  Wouldn’t that be great?

Reading about Zen Habits recently, I came across the familiar quote, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

That was wrong, I said.  This quote should say, “Excellence is not an art”……and I was so sure that I looked it up. 

No, I was wrong, but yet still so right…… 

Years ago I read that quote and wrote it in a journal; somehow, between the original quote and my sleep deprived or harried brain, it became a ‘new memory’ that was re-inforced as it was transcribed, and noted, and quoted, and finally, as my mindset was 100% convinced of its authenticity, made its way onto my first ever website and homepage. 

To me, in this modern world, the concept that we see excellence as an art form to be pursued in one great effort, or treated like Abraham Maslow’s principle of self-actualization seems to make more sense than to say it is an act but….(a discussion on this will follow at another time)………, let’s stay ‘on point’.

The point is that we create these memories and truths in our minds, so why not proactively program our brains and our bodies to maximize our sleep quality and efficiency – not our sleep quantity – and do so regardless of the way we currently feel or act about sleep!

Let’s remove the individual act of sleep and replace it with the excellence of sleep by creating good habits of how we think and approach our sleep.  Let’s make excellent sleep results ‘second nature’ in our world.

Many chronic poor sleep sufferers, like me, extend their sleep problems to the level where they create a negative sleep environment or phobia about the bedroom.  Do you?  Have you slept well on the couch but once you go to bed, can’t sleep at all?  Do you dread going to bed?  I have.  It is a common problem, but fortunately, there is a simple way to solve it.

Simply, practice thinking positively about all the most fun and best parts of going to bed.  This is the Zen Habit part, just to start, and it becomes……once begun, half done…..just take the first step in telling yourself that you will practice thinking this way and you have mastered the mindset forms habit question.

So, simply, practice thinking positively about all the most fun and best parts of going to bed.

I like to call it, ‘entering the COMFORT ZONE’.

In the comfort zone, the bed is luxurious, the covers warm, the pillow just soft enough and there is a cocoon of positive, fuzzy feel good energy like the buzzing of the power lines on a still, snowy night.  In this gentle darkness, you and the gentle snow fall are all that is in the world other than that soft, energy buzz of the power lines as the velvety snow melds together with you and the soft hum into one with the white blanket of mother earth caressing the ground around us all.

Soon, we can establish a positive vibe towards going to bed.  We can practice to make this an every day habit until this habit becomes part of our belief system about going to sleep. 

Then, by practicing these thoughts as well as other physical sleep hygiene habits in an every night sleep ritual 30 minutes prior to bed, we can achieve what Aristotle told us is true:

Excellent Sleep is not an act attempted to be achieved each night, it is not an art left to the creative side of our brain, but Excellent Sleep is a practice brought about from proactively programming our brain and establishing a routine of actions into habits in a ritual of and for good sleep. 

We are what we repeatedly, do.  Excellent sleep is the result of a good night routine.

I look forward to sharing more about my personal efforts to do what is difficult for me — this creative, non-routine individual within me – that is, establish habits and routines to follow in the morning and night such that the other 16 hours of my day can be their creative, adventurous and healthy best.

These concepts are intellectually called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  As applied to sleep, Dr. Gregg Jacobs has written an excellent book called Say Good Night to Insomnia.  It is worth reading and I shall quote it often in the future blogs and articles that will supplement my story in this blog.

Next time it will be time to share more of my story, where it started, where it is and how I am creating a morning full of energy by following THE MOST IMPORTANT SLEEP RULE of THEM ALL……..

for peaceful nights and days full of productivity– and a happy birthday to all the fellow Jan 31 Aquarius’ in the world,

Clay

Soon to be….The Sleep Guru