Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It's become increasingly clear that good sleep is an important part, not only of health in general, but also of losing weight.

My sleep habits have never been good and as I've gotten older, have gotten worse.

For me, it's rarely normal insomnia (although occasionally I have trouble getting to sleep), but more often going to sleep, then waking up 2-4 hours later and THEN not being able to get back to sleep (or being up for a couple hours before managing it).

I suppose if I were truly productive during those hours it might be worth it, but it rarely is! I'm much more likely to surf the net.

I've always been a late-night person and, even as a kid, tended to be the last of the cousins to sleep when we were together over holidays. And even when I'm in an early morning routine--and going to bed at a more reasonable hour--I can get back to the late night (early morning, really: one or two AM) with just one or two late nights because of travel, a late concert or party, etc. My brain and body clock shift back to their preferred routine very quickly

So one of the things I have to address is better sleep habits. The route to good sleep usually includes the following:
  1. get up at the same time every morning, weekends included (so your cycle is always the same)
  2. no stimulating activity (TV, computer) late at night
  3. have a usual bedtime regime (ablutions, hot bath, meditation, writing down the things that need to be done tomorrow, etc.)
  4. keep your bedroom dark and cool
  5. use your bedroom only for sleep (and lovemaking!), so you associate it with those things only, not watching TV, reading, etc.
  6. exercise, but not in the evening, so you're normally tired
  7. cut down on stimulants (caffeine)
When I wake up I often notice it's for one or more of several reasons:
  1. my body's overheated (hot, sweaty)
  2. I have trouble breathing (I use a C-PAP for sleep apnea -- if you can't breathe through your nose, you can't breathe--and I have allergies that tend to act up regularly)
  3. my back is sore
  4. I'm a middle-aged male: I have to pee!
So, solutions for me are:
  1. get up at the same time every day
  2. cut out late-night computer/tv and find something that is relaxing (set a limit as to how late I can do those things--10 PM?
  3. build a pre-bedtime regime (I'll have to think about that one)
  4. as my exercise program gets into gear (Bikram Yoga, back exercises, walking), that should help on the physical front
  5. as my back is healthier, it should take away one cause of my waking up (backaches)
  6. I also wonder if carbs (especially eaten late) cause the overheating--it'll be interesting to see if low(er) carb and no eating in the evening after dinner makes a difference
  7. don't drink fluids after about 7 PM!
  8. when I find a doctor in my new town, I'll see if my current allergy regime can be better (right now take claritin once per day and use a steroid nasal mist (nasacort) to keep down swelling--all of which would mean not waking up because I can't breathe through my nose
  9. when I DO wake up in the middle of the night, I need a better way to deal with it. Maybe I should do productive work . . . or maybe find something soothing to do
These need to gradually become part of my new transformation . . .


  1. Just a casual reader saying to keep up the good work! You're doing a lot of smart thinking about how to get fit, and I have no doubt that you will succeed.

  2. Saw your link posted in the comments at Mark's Daily Apple and thought I'd check out your post. I'm middle-aged (well, actually, more like late middle age - 52, ha) and used to have major insomnia problems. It would take me awhile to get to sleep, then I'd wake up in a few hours and wouldn't be able to get back to sleep. My main problem was worry/anxiety - at night, I was vulnerable to them because my mind would start racing. I've been "transforming" myself, like you are - and have become much calmer and relaxed.
    Sorry to ramble on - liked your post and found your tips relevant - no stimulating activity before bed is a good one - if I stay too long at the computer (I write a blog, also, and it seems to take up a lot of time) my sleep suffers.