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 –
Sleep well, RM.