Sleep apnea

Sleep observation

Me at the sleep clinic!

Three weeks ago I spent the night in a sleep clinic. I was hooked up to a thousand wires and tubes. The point of this observation was to understand why I sleep walk/talk, and why I have insomnia. I just got the results back. Drum roll please:

The good news it that I don’t have sleep apnea. If you’re unfamiliar with sleep apnea, it’s a condition where you wake up many times during the night because of a loss of breath. Really the only cures for it are losing weight and sleeping with a machine that helps push air into your lungs. Given how hard it was to sleep with all those wires on me, I was glad to hear that I wouldn’t need to sleep with a machine for the rest of my life.

The bad news is that I have an unusually high ratio of slow wave sleep (SWS) and very little REM. SWS is deep sleep and that’s why I’m able to walk around and not wake up. That also causes extreme grogginess in the morning. It can take up to 30 minutes to fully wake up if you are awoken during SWS. The other problem is that when you do get a good nights sleep after a long period of sleep deprivation you might get “REM rebound” which can cause depression. That’s why a lot of sleep aids warn that depression is a side effect. Eke. That would explain why I was watching so much t.v.

Here are some helpful tips the doctor gave me:

  • You need to develop sleep schedule and follow it 7 days a week. That means no sleeping in on the weekends. NOOOOO!
  • Do not read in bed. Do not do anything in bed besides for sleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep you need to get out of bed and do something boring. My doctor recommended reading the stock page. I found this tip surprising because I’ve always read in bed, and that’s what I usually turn to when I’m having trouble falling asleep. I thought getting out of bed would only wake me up.  But you want to train your mind to shut off as soon as it’s in the bed.
  • The second you wake up turn all the lights on, raise the curtains, and eat your breakfast in front of the brightest window. Soaking in light will quickly force your brain to stop releasing adenosine (the sleepy hormone). I’ve always wanted one of those alarm clocks that start gradually lighting up as it nears your wake up time. She recommended against this. When you’re asleep it should be totally dark, when you want to wake up it should be totally bright. There’s no need to interrupt your sleep with gradual, distracting light. (Since I received this adice on Friday, I’ve been opening my shades the second I wake up and it really does help.)
  • If your bedtime is 12 you should start dimming the lights at 10. You shouldn’t watch t.v., or look at a computer of phone screen for at least an hour before falling asleep. The light from the screens causes you to think it’s day light and messes with your circadian rhythm.
  • If you are getting into a new sleep pattern DO NOT TAKE NAPS. You just have to accept that you’ll be tired for a few days/weeks. You are trying to train your brain into thinking the only chance it will get to sleep is between these certain hours, so you better take advantage of them, brain.

You might ask what this has to do with the HeSoProject.  As I wrote in my About Page, my goal is to wake up every morning excited and happy for the day ahead. A good night sleep is the foundation for a fully lived life. If there is anything that is keeping you from enjoying your days take the time to figure it out. Every part of your day effects your life – make sure everything is alignment with where you want to go.

– A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.  ~Irish Proverb