Sweet, sweet sleep

During the slow, rerun, unemployment days of Christmas and early January, I found myself generally going to bed reasonably early and only setting my TV-as-alarm-clock every now and then. The nights when I didn’t set my alarm, I slept according to the pattern I’m slowly coming to accept is my “norm” — which, left to my own devices, with no alarm clock or phone calls intruding on my sleep, is about nine hours. (Seems like a such a waste a time. Ah, how I envy those people who only need a couple of hours of sleep a night. Alas, that is not my lot in life — I can function temporarily on little sleep but takes less and less time to catch up with me these days, a sure sign of advancing age.)

Now the television season is starting up again (let’s forget the whole “too much TV may mean earlier death” thing), I start a new (short-term) contract job tomorrow, and I find myself considering whether or not to go to sleep at a reasonable time. (It’s a twist on the Sunday night insomnia that I usually suffer from.) It’s insanity, I tell you. A sane person would think “Yes, a good night’s sleep would be a great start to the new job.” Still, I suppose I’ve never claimed to be sane.

A slight tangent: Tonight, I listened to a free teleseminar given by JJ Virgin, a high profile nutrion coach. The ultimate goal of these types of seminars is obviously to entice you into signing up for a course or program. It’s a fairly standard type of marketing these days, accompanied by the stereotypical “sales letters”. Her programs are very expensive and not something I could sign up for even if I wanted to, but the teleseminar was quite interesting and moderately educational. In particular, she had some excellent points about getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night. It reminded me that I feel better physically and mentally when I get the amount of sleep my body clearly requires. Much as I like it, I don’t want to live on 5-Hour Energy.

Anyway, while looking through her site during the less interesting parts of the call, I came across mention of a product called the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. It consists of a bedside display unit (see image to the left) and a sensor headband that you wear when you go to sleep. It tracks and monitors your sleep patterns and helps you to determine the lifestyle issues that are affecting your sleep. Given my perpetual sleep issues (even my so-called “uniterrupted sleep” is interrupted — by the cat, by my neighbours, by weird dreams, by aches and pains, etc.), it looks like a tool that would help me figure out just how many times I actually wake up during the night. It’s actually not as expensive as I’d expected: it’s only $249 US. Alas, that’s still out of my price range at the moment, but it’s good to know that there is something out there that can help people with sleep issues without timeconsuming visits to their family doctor and/or a sleep clinic.


Brave new frontiers

It’s 4:30am. Still sleepless. Took some garbage to the garbage shute and decided to give B a taste of freedom (without having to worry about the elevator door opening and him disappearing off into the scary, big world). We walked one way — he kept checking to make sure I was still there. Then we went back the other way, past the apartment door a few feet. I think the whole thing was a little overwhelming to him and he hissed softly every now and then.

Frontiers are scary places, Boo.

Ring, ring, ring

Tried desperately to avoid going to sleep this morning. I have so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it this week. My own fault for procrastinating on some of the tasks. At some point, I drank a 5-hour Energy in order to try to stay awake long enough to at least finish some of what I had to do. It would have worked nicely except that Iwas so beyond tired when I drank it that what I ended up with is a semi-alert brain but eyes that just couldn’t focus properly on anything, which is a little pointless.

Finally gave in and was going to go to bed at about 9:30am but my parents called (they never call at that time of day — I’m not sure why they did today). Then other calls came in, and it ended up being about noon-ish before I finally tried to go to sleep. The phone kept ringing every half hour or less (telemarketers can be so persistent). I can’t turn it off because I’m job hunting — I need to get calls about potential jobs without delay because, in the world of contract work, timing is everything. I finally got up at about 3:30pm for a call I actually had to take. And now I’m so tired I feel nauseous.

I really need to work harder on maintaining a regular sleep schedule. This is going to kill me.

Knee deep in Joomla

Have been buried in Joomla for the last several days, fiddling with it and fighting with a template for a site I’m working on — have only a short time to get it in shape. I find myself on a weird night shift pattern with a chronic and ever-present hangover from insufficient sleep. So much for posting every day — I don’t have enough brain power left over after a long night of Joomla jousting for thinking of things to blog about.

It’s been a weird couple of days. I must be mad to be doing this. Think I might take a break from it tomorrow, stave off the headache I can feel building.

Evil, thy name is snooze button

The lobby of my building has a radio station piped through 24/7. I don’t listen to the radio at home (I’d rather listen to my iTunes) so that’s the only place that I get exposed to it. Anyway, early Friday morning, I’m waiting for the elevator after a dumpster visit during the big clean when they start talking about the perils of snooze alarm addiction.  Essentially, while sleeping a little longer may actually beneficial to your health, the excessive use of the snooze button to do that is detrimental, leading to an increase in high blood pressure and other ailments that come from a lack of quality sleep. 

I love my snooze button. I’m clearly not alone — the I Need Rehab For My Snooze Button Addiction Facebook group has almost 6,000 members. (As an aside, “clock sniping” as used in the description of that group is THE perfect term for what a snooze button addict does.) You can hit the snooze button on my alarm clock forever and it will never stop coming back on. I’ve been known to do that for several hours before finally getting up (I think my record was four hours — that’s 27 snooze button hits, which even I acknowledge is ridiculous) and I’ve actually deliberately set my alarm early to account for the snooze-buttoning I know I’ll do.

Those little nine-minute microsleeps are wonderful, almost intoxicating, which should be a dead giveaway that they aren’t good in the long run. Mind you, unless I’m dead tired, I sleep fitfully anyway: I wake up when I change position or when something starts to ache too much or when the cat decides to join me. So I guess my entire night’s sleep consists of microsleeps. No wonder I’m always tired.

Left to my own devices, with no alarms, nothing to *have* to wake up by a certain time for, and no phone calls waking me up in the middle, I awaken naturally after about nine hours sleep. But that seems like such a huge chunk out of a 24-hour day, and I guess I’m ever hopeful that I’ll actually manage to be able to function on a significantly smaller amount of sleep. It’s been a vain hope. And that’s where the snooze button becomes my enabler. Or rather lately it’s been my TV that is my enabler — since I’ve been sleeping in the living room, I’ve been setting my TV to channel 998 (which, because the building’s security channel doesn’t work properly with digital cable — does anyone’s? — is blank and black and thus non-intrusive) and using the timer settings on the digital cable box to turn to specific channels at 1/2 hour or hour intervals. So, longer snoozes but still snoozing for a couple of hours each day. All the more reason to get my bedroom decluttered so I can start sleeping there again — I deliberately have no computer or TV in there. (See, I was sensible at one point.)

The down side of energy drinks

You trick your brain into thinking your body has had enough restorative sleep when it hasn’t. Eventually, your body starts to break down. I’ve used 5-Hour Energy a few times over the last week and I’m kind of sorry I did. I don’t have side effects from the drink itself but haven’t actually gotten the sensible amount of sleep that would rid me of the need for it either. So, I haven’t fallen asleep at the office but I haven’t gotten the rest that my eyes and other body parts need either. My eyes are going a little crossed, I have a fatigue headache that won’t go away, and my brain just isn’t firing on all cylinders. I need some lengthy uninterrupted sleep this weekend, I think. And a regular sleep schedule. But, then, don’t I always?

5-Hour Energy

As you know if you read this blog, I have frequent problems with insomnia. I’m just not a day person. Even though I do like the daytime, I’m just more awake at night. Unfortunately, not sleeping properly at night means you’re groggy or even downright sleepy the next day. Not good if you’re working. I used to try to use Pepsi (my previous caffeine vehicle of choice) but that comes with all kinds of less-than-desireable side effects, including caffeine headaches (or, worse, withdrawal headaches), having to pee constantly, and sugar rushes/crashes. It does the trick but, boy, it makes a mess of you while it does it.

5-hour energyKnowing this about myself, and knowing that it was going to become an issue at least once during this new contract, I picked up some berry-flavoured 5-Hour Energy at a local convenience store a couple of weeks ago. Had seen commercials for it but didn’t know anyone who had actually used it before. Looked worth a try. Haven’t needed it…until today.

Couldn’t stay awake this morning, especially since I was doing a monotonous task that I was going to be doing ALL day. Tried to move around, take little stretch breaks, graze continuously but by about 1:30, I was done. A time if ever there was one to try the 5-Hour Energy.


Have you ever chewed a blueberry flavoured vitamin C tablet? Pretty tart tasting, yes? Picture chewing a handful of those with a packet of artificial sweetener. That’s what this tastes like. Not a bad taste, exactly. But really sour and really sweet at the same time. If you’re going to drink this, for the love of god, have a chaser waiting. Water will do. That’s tip #1.

I can still smell it…and taste it a little. Mind you, it seems to have caused a little acid reflux so that’s probably why.

It didn’t have the “wow!” factor of mainlining a little Pepsi or Red Bull but it seems to done what it promised, which is keep me awake without the jitters and sugar crash associated with many other energy drinks. It didn’t suddenly make me hyper perky but it stopped me from falling asleep at my desk. Tired, I can handle. Sleepy, not so much. My afternoon task was even more monotonous than the morning but I didn’t have to get up to move around to stay awake. I even stayed an extra 1.5 hours at work to finish what I was working on.

I developed a little bit of what I recognize as a caffeine headache at about 7 or 8 and, as I mentioned, had some acid reflux problems (trust me, it doesn’t taste any better coming back up). Probably best not to take it right after lunch so consider that tip #2 from me to you. Tip #3 would probably be don’t take it after mid-afternoon. It’s 11pm and I’m just now starting to feel really sleepy again. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have been able to go to sleep if I’d gone to bed as soon as I came home from work — I don’t know because I didn’t try — but if you have insomnia, why do something that might make it worse?

I see from their site that they now have a decaf version. Not quite sure how that’s supposed to work. The ingredients in their regular versions are vitamin B6, B12, B3, and B9 plus Citicoline, Tyrosine, Phenylamine, Taurine (ooh, like cats need for eyesight health), Malic Acid, Glucuronolactone, and caffeine. Do those really work as well without the little kick of caffeine?

Internal clock messed up

Came across a local job posting for a newsletter editor. It pays a lot less than the government, though more than a call centre, but what’s more important is that it looks really interesting, both because I really like working on newsletters and because I like the topic of the newsletter this job would be handling. You have to submit two published articles with the resume and that got me thinking about my portfolio again and that got me looking at the half-finished and half-baked projects I’ve got on the go — and, well, that led to where I am right now. Still awake at 6am, having not gone to bed last night.

Not unusual for the last week or so — somehow or another, I’ve managed to completely screw up my internal clock.

I’m sleeping during the day, wide awake at night. Even if I stay awake through the day to sleep at night, I still don’t sleep through the night. And then I’m almost delirious the next day. And I keep forgetting to eat — which is pretty easy to do because I’ve felt nauseous for much of the last week. Perhaps something wrong digestion-wise. I don’t know. It’s not something I ate, unless it’s everything I eat, because it happens regardless of whether I’ve eaten or not, and regardless of what I’ve eaten. It’s not anxiety, at least not any more or less than I’ve had for months. It’s not low blood sugar. It’s spitty-mouth, think I’m going to throw up nausea. I got that a few times while I was working for the government. It would last for weeks and then go away. It feels familiar from even before that but I don’t know why — just a niggling little sense of deja vu that isn’t related to the incidents while with the government. (Maybe because it feels like when I’m essentially overdosing on Advil.) Wish I’d logged it then, though — maybe I could figure out what the triggers are.

(By the way, don’t ever use Wrong Diagnosis‘s multi symptom checker without a huge grain of salt — the first search result for the symptoms I input was abdominal cancer (they sort alphabetically).  Oooh, heroin withdrawal is in there, too. *snort* Of course, that’s the problem. I should never have stopped shooting smack.  LOL I shudder to think how that tool would enable a hypochondriac.)

Along with all of this, I have been both studiously avoiding many of the things high on my “to do” list and frantically tackling things that really should be nearer to the bottom of the list, including creating a new site that I’ve been designing in my head for months. Is it a priority? No. Is it the only thing in my head this weekend? Yes, for some reason. Well, that and losing terribly at Scrabulous on Facebook. (I *suck* at Scrabble.) On the plus side, I’ve gotten about 10% of the new site done — think I’m going to use just WordPress (combo of pages, posts, and plugins) for all of the content, instead of having the blog be just a part of it. That makes it both easier and harder. I also got a second wind with one of the newsletters I work on — didn’t quite get it finished but it’s about 50% done. (It was about 10% done when I started.) Problem is that have to write some of the pending content myself and that’s where I’m hitting a wall. So, I’ve put it aside for a day or two to percolate.

The early bird…

…annoys people trying to sleep.

There’s a persistent little bugger who starts his thing at about 1:30 or 2a.m. I first started to hear him a few years ago. It was one lone little bird, usually sitting on one of the tall light standards near here. When my parents were her in June 2005, I tried to get them where they could hear him but had little luck. They thought they heard another one, though, near where I worked while they were waiting to pick me up early one morning. My dad thought it might be a whip-poor-will. It’s similar but it’s not your typical whip-poor-will. Did a Google tonight and came across a 2006 post by someone who I think has heard the same type of bird but she didn’t offer enough information for someone to determine what type of bird it was. Haven’t yet come across a sound file that actually sounds like the bird(s) I hear. Wish I had batteries for my tape recorder or a video camera with sound. I’d go out and record them.

This year, he’s got company. There are at least a couple of them yammering on tonight. I don’t hear them if my windows are closed but, because it’s been so mild lately, I’ve had my windows and balcony doors open. It’s very hard to sleep with all of that commotion going on. So, here I am. It’s almost 4a.m. and he’s still going strong.