Mastery and Sleep II

There are a dizzying array of caffeinated, multi colored energy drinks, supplements, juices and pills on the market today as we all know (and have consumed from time to time)  I don’t want to go down the path about the effects of caffeine or stimulants on the brain or any pseudo scientific analysis of what and how these things do what they do.  That’s really not the point. 
What I asked myself – and what I’d like you, gentle RM to ask yourself, … is a simple question.
Why are they here?
Economics 101 teaches us about market forces – the forces of supply and demand and how they operate in the marketplace.  When we examine a concept like ‘demand’ – which is literally a want, backed by the ability to pay for it, and its counterpart ‘supply’ which is the willingness to provide something in exchange for payment….the simple answer is that energy drinks and supplements abound because we as a society want them and continue to pay a premium for them, so it makes sense that manufacturers continue to make a profit by meeting those needs. 
Go a little deeper RM. 
But, why are they here? Really?  – depending on who you ask in the academic community they might point out the factoid that we have as a nation cut about 90 minutes off our collective average sleeping time per night. And we continue to work on that – spending less and less time asleep on the whole each year.  There are other reasons to be sure – but to me, this stands out as prima facie evidence of why the marketplace continues to offer so many choices of substances that are basically designed to keep us awake and alert. Its simple really, RM.
People who aren’t tired don’t need energy drinks to stay awake.  They aren’t necessary.

Could our lack of proper amounts of rest be the silent culprit behind….
  • The disturbing frequency with which a lack of civility and manners crops up in our subculture?
  • The fact that a lot of us in the scene are overweight?
  • The preponderance of addictive prone personalities in our subculture?
  • Other collectively negative and/or individually harmful social phenomena?
You might say that I’m reaching RM, dragging in a load of cultural phenomena under this broad, very convenient umbrella of the cumulative effects of sleeplessness. ….and might be correct, perhaps I am stretching things metaphorically, a little.  Maybe.
Consider this however – if you read down the list I gave you yesterday concerning the scientifically verifiable and cumulative effects of chronic sleep deprivation, perhaps you might not think of this as quite so much of a stretch at all.  But enough theorizing for one day.  Lets move on to what I promised you on yesterday which was an exploration of what remedies we might be able to avail ourselves of in response to this dread situation that many of us find ourselves facing.
One more observation – I do NOT advocate treatment of the unfortunate side effects of sleep deprivation as cure. In other words –  ingesting something that helps you stay awake during the day is NOT synonymous with eliminating your sleep deprivation. I dont consider energy drinks/coffee/caffeinated drinks and supplements as being evil and disgusting, far from it. I often enjoy a hot cup of freshly ground dark roast right out of a french press with heavy cream. And some of the energy drinks that I’ve tasted are quite tasty and also effective as well. Occasionally they are necessary and helpful – just be aware of the fact that if we don’t address our fundamental need for sleep, that toll still continues to collect interest and eventually our bodies will pay the price.
So here are some helps, RM – pick and choose as you will and also add some if you know of any that will be of benefit to other readers;
  • Write it down.  Are you the kind of person that keeps a laundry list of shyt that needs to be taken care of or things that are troubling you that you need to work on in your head all the time?  Us high-control types tend to notice a lot of things – the unfortunate side effect is that our brain tries to help us not forget the most important ones by staying awake to think about them.  Write them down.  The list will be there tomorrow and you can rest in the meantime.
  • Don’t use your bed for anything but fucking or sleeping.  Period.  No reading, watching TV or eating cookies.  Its too easy to make associations in your brain that arent compatible with sleeping.
  • Exercise is excellent – but not within 3 hours or so of bedtime.  Your body produces hormones in response to exercise that are in line with staying up…not sleeping.
  • Create a nightly ritual for preparation for bedtime – going to bed at the same time, even doing repetitive things like changing clothing, going to take a shower or brush your teeth..establishing patterns that your racing mind will associate with ‘sleep time’ will yield benefits as you will start to calm yourself in anticipation of sleeping, which will make it easier to fall asleep when you get in bed.
  • Protect your need to sleep – if you don’t make sleep a priority, then there will never be enough time for sleep.  That means you must make time in your schedule for sleep, RM. Time is linear and most of us have a time when we must be up and about – so we must therefore go to bed earlier.
  • 5HTP5 HTP is an over the counter nutritional supplement.  Chemically, its the metabolic precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophane, an essential amino acid, is metabolized into 5-HTP by the body. 5 HTP is in turn, converted into the neurotransmitter Serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for mood, hunger and sleep. When I’ve used 5HTP I’ve found that I sleep deeper and when I wake up Im generally more optimistic and upbeat as well. Its not expensive and it works for me. Try some. 
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes several hours prior to bedtime. Stimulants are the enemy of sleep – if you’re amped up on caffeine, its going to be tougher to get good, restful sleep.
  • Is your bedroom conducive to good sleeping? Get rid of clutter, pay attention to your mattress, pillows, bed linens.  Everything that touches your body should be of the highest quality that you can personally afford.  If it feels good on your skin you’ll feel better and be more relaxed as a result and more likely to enjoy your sleep experience.
  • Do you snore excessively? Often wake up feeling groggy and not well rested? Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night gasping or with a sensation of choking? Do you feel better when you fall asleep in a sitting position, e.g. in a chair or recliner..but not a bed? You may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea  is a sleep disorder characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour.  If you suspect this is happening to you, you need to see a sleep doctor. The Dr may recommend a sleep study, which is where they monitor your sleep for a night to see how often you are experiencing apnea. There are a number of methods to offer relief from apnea and your doctor will work with you to find the treatment that best works for you. If you have sleep apnea, dont procrastinate – see a doctor as soon as you can. Apnea can be life threatening if untreated.
  • Temperature is important – your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet.
  • Do you have problems getting back to sleep after you get up and go to the bathroom?  The culprit might be the light bulb…..If you DO have to get up in the middle of the night, keep the lights off.  In general you should endeavor to keep your room as dark as possible.  Research indicates that exposure to moderate or bright lights that interrupt our sleep cycle can disrupt our circadian rhythms and fool our brains into believing that its daytime, leading to wakefulness.
  • Give yourself a specific bedtime – this may take a while…you’ve been not sleeping good for a while now..turning this thing around and developing good sleep habits may take some time to do, so dont beat yourself up about it if it doesnt happen immediately. It may take some work…and some time, to get better.
  • No heavy meals before bedtime – a light snack of something that contains tryptophan like apple pie and ice cream, whole-grain cereal with milk, hazelnuts and tofu , oatmeal and raisin cookies, and a glass of milk, peanut butter sandwich, ground sesame seeds.. note that it takes around one hour for the tryptophan in whatever foods you eat to actually reach the brain, so don’t wait until right before bedtime to have your snack.  

  • What if you still cant sleep – don’t beat yourself up about it.  Studies have shown that you still are getting 70-80% of the benefits of sleep by relaxing quietly with your eyes closed.
Remedies and adjustments like these abound – just do a search on ‘sleep’ and you’ll soon have more recommendations than you can digest in hours and hours of reading.  Which will work for you?  You may have to experiment – each of us are different and respond to different things.   
For most of us, the most important thing we can do to start getting more/better sleep; 
Recognize that we need more sleep and apply our intention to achieving that goal.

For some of us, that means doing the research online to find specific remedies that are workable for us, like the short list of recommendations above.  For others – we really just need to commit our time and attention to doing things differently. We know better RM…and we have known better for some time.   
But just KNOWING differently means little if we don’t also DO differently. 
At the end of the day RM – each of us is King or Queen in our respective castles and as such, we are free to do as we like.  It is my belief that you, like myself are all about the business of constantly moving toward the best this life has to offer in all fields of practical endeavor and contemplation and the command and enjoyment of exquisite servitude.  Proper governance of your specific kingdom demands a lot of that person who would sit on the throne – and we need to be at 100%, RM. Seriously. 
The final stanza of the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem, ‘The Sleep‘ – that I began Mastery and Sleep with a few days ago refers to the end of life – there are no tears at the end over one that has squeezed every drop of joy out of a life well lived.  None of us like to think about that time when we shall close our eyes on this plane of existence for the last time, but that day comes for all of us, and for some sooner than later.  Don’t let those in your Kingdom grieve over you because you’ve left the throne unoccupied early….through inattention or outright ignorance. 

Let them rejoice instead over a life well lived – an intentional life lived on your terms, with a fierce joy.  Hopefully that day is far, far away for all of us – therefore gentle RM – Let us do what we can do RIGHT NOW – to increase our enjoyment of the life that we have.  What could be simpler than putting the hammer away, shutting off the computer, the television, closing the book…and getting more of the rest, the sleep that you need?   

Start tonight RM – please let me know how you are doing.  Hit me on Fetlife as MasterObsidian or via email – House.of.obsidian@gmail.com
Sleep well, RM.

Mastery and Sleep

What would we give to our beloved?
The hero’s heart to be unmoved,
The poet’s star-tun’d harp to sweep,
The patriot’s voice to teach and rouse,
The monarch’s crown to light the brows?
He giveth His beloved, sleep.
                                                             – Browning


 

Can’t Sleep, Clown will Eat Me.

I’ve been thinking of late RM about the function and the necessity of sleep. Im reminded that it wasn’t that long ago, during the Q&A portion of the International Master/slave competition that I was asked about the area of my biggest struggle and I had to make a choice at that moment. The answer that came immediately to mind wasn’t directly applicable to the Master/slave lifestyle, but it does potentially have an effect on that and every other facet of our lives together as Master and slave. That answer , RM was that I have an issue with sleeping. Not that I suffer from any sort of chronic insomnia or a genetic predisposition to not sleeping….I just don’t like to sleep.

If given a choice between going to bed or staying up reading or writing or researching, I will almost always desire the option that involves staying up a little later, finishing this chapter, this movie, this article, this…whatever. You get the point – I’d rather do anything than go to bed.
There are a number of different reasons that have been primary at one time or another during my lifetime. At times I’ve felt that I’d be missing something if I went to sleep, therefore I’d stay up and do the much more interesting thing whatever that is, instead of wasting valuable time abed. At other times I’ve been working on various projects or been under some sort of deadline that would require in my mind extended periods of time where I felt I needed to go without sleep to accomplish some goal I’d set for myself.

Note,  RM that even as I write this I recognize that my impressions of what was ‘necessary’ with regard to my own sleep deprivation may not have been realistic, but it certainly felt so at the time.  And since we are ruminating, let me also add that there seems to be a thought in the back of my mind that sleep is for wussies.  A strong, capable person (like myself, I thought) has the ability to tap into hidden reserves of strength not immediately apparent to the average person and thereby exist on about half the amount of sleep that most people need to function.  I told myself (and others) some version of that macho bullshit for years, as I routinely allowed myself roughly 4 hours a night of sleep on average, many times going without sleep entirely, getting what I called my ‘second wind’ around 4 a.m. at which time I’d start to feel more awake as dawn approached.  I’d crash the following afternoon of course and take a nap during lunch and somehow make it through the doldrums of the afternoon in a quasi awake state. The stark reality is that there is no such thing as a superpower of not needing sleep. I was burning the candle at both ends.  Sure, I developed elaborate coping strategies, but on some level I knew that this wasn’t good for me and I’d also be cognizant of the need to make some sort of change…but I’d do it again and again anyway.

The Beauty of the Night 

For me, the middle of the night is a beautiful place to be. Its quiet, dark – the people that you love are safe and tucked away sleeping, there are no interruptions, no phone ringing, no worrying about finishing up things here before you have to be there by X time – none of those irritating phenomena that we accept as part and parcel of the daylight world. For about 6 or so hours each night after what is commonly considered ‘late night’ activity; the susurrus of murmured conversations over the issues of the day, wearing my slave out in bed, scening, watching television etc.. it all would fade away by midnight and then I would feel this moment of peaceful, beautiful silence that stretched before me like a vast, blank tablet that is waiting.  Waiting for my hand to mold and to shape it into somewhen that is totally mine to do with as I will…until the approach of dawn.  It is a wondrous and incredibly seductive time, RM. And the most amazing thing is that unlike birthdays, holidays and other special occaisions – this moment always unfurls before me like a beautiful delicate, inky black rose each and every night!  I loved being awake and staying awake as long as possible. Sometimes I dreamed of a world in which I’d never have to sleep and could just use all 24 hours of the clock for my porpoises….But you know what kids.. everything has a price tag.

Nothing is free.
There IS a tradeoff, gentle RM.  For my habitual idyllic sojourns in the land of sleeplessness, there is a toll.  And the bill is paid by the body – specifically the allowing of some or perhaps most of a growing list of travelers to accompany me through the pathways of the waking world.  Who are these travelers? – they go by varied and numerous names;

Hallucination – ever see those elusive little shadows that appear to be just out of the corner of your eyes, darting under beds or couches or the sense that ‘something’ was over there but isnt right now?  What about…. Irritability, Cognitive impairment, Memory lapses or loss, Severe Yawning, Symptoms similar to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Impaired moral judgement, Decreased reaction time and accuracy, Tremors, Aching muscles, Risk of Diabetes Type 2, Growth suppression, Risk of obesity, Decreased temperature, Increased heart rate variability, Risk of heart disease, Impaired immune system…

These are facts RM…not opinion.  These are iIrrefutable, scientifically verified, independantly provable, in-your-face.. facts.   When we dont sleep as a way of life, these critters (and others) eventually become a part of our world.

At the shallow end of the pool, the list of travelers that would go with me through the waking world seemed like a small price to pay – as long as they were few and variable.  But be warned RM that the effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative and it has been my experience that the longer one goes without sleep on both the short (single night, or series of adjacent nights) or the long (over a period of months or years) term – the more of these critters clamber aboard.  Additionally, I’ve found that even if the list or quantity of symptoms doesn’t grow – the ‘weight’ if you will of specific attributes tends to expand geometrically…and as a result YOU gentle RM can begin to expand as well.. 

Por ejemplo…

Did you know that sleep deprivation disrupts your bodies ability to regulate hormones that control metabolism and appetite?

  1. As a result you over eat during the day and also don’t lose weight as rapidly or consistently as a healthy person. 
  2. Being overweight changes how you breathe, especially when sleeping – you develop chronic snoring and also sleep apnea where the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax and cut off your airway – you literally stop breathing for extended periods of time while asleep,
  3. the body jolts itself awake to breathe by releasing panic signals/hormones whenever oxygen levels dip and remain below an optimal level as the body worksnto keep you alive.
  4. These constant cycles of oxygen deprivation/adrenaline throughout the night stress your heart and also prohibit deep, restful sleep,..
  5. …which leads to increased tiredness during the day, and additionally
  6. disrupts your bodies ability to regulate hormones that control metabolism and appetite, SO….during the day you overeat……

Lather, rinse and repeat the above cycle until dead.

This cycle isnt the only reason why a person becomes overweight, I realize that.

The point Im making is that at the deep end of the pool, chronic sleep deprivation will eventually kill you RM – mostly indirectly by contributing to complicated health issues that singularly or collectively damage your body enough to kill it.  There. I said it.

Yes, I could have waxed long and pedantic about various and sundry sleep aids like the best mattress for the money, size and quantity of pillows, their assorted fillings, the importance and relevance of thread count in bed linens and the merits of egyptian cotton vs domestically grown.

And perhaps I will at a later date.

But before we explore the concept of sleeping WELL, gentle RM – we need to tackle head on the issue that many of us struggle with, and that is sleeping AT ALL.

A question for you RM – you’ve put a lot of time and energy into the cultivation, development and structure of the relationship with that person or persons that serve you. Would you then consider it appropriate or responsible to then direct said submissive or slave to leave your service and go serve a different Master that is unhealhily overweight, chronically forgetful, clumsy, angry and suffers from heart disease, symptoms of ADHD, an impaired immune system, tremors, and impaired moral judgement?

Of course it’s a heavy handed overstatement RM and a borderline unreasonable example. Point? There is one and not just on top of my head.

Look into this article and let me know if you see your reflection anywhere. Are you a part of my Tribe of the Sleep Deprived – you know who you are and you know that this is Truth. Have you one or more of those aforementioned critters with you during the day, most days?

Seriously?

Killing oneself by degrees is neither Renaissance nor Masterly.


So what do we do next???????

This is long enough to be a two-parter and I hate to leave you right here, but you get the point RM.

Its time to make a change. I want to be here for a long time – and I want YOU to be here too.  We’ve got a lot of enjoying of the best that life has to offer still to come…so that means we have to make some very necessary changes.

Trust – There are solutions – we will explore some of those in some detail next. Meet me here tomorrow. In the meantime I welcome your comment.
Rest well, RM.