Those Things I Do to be Healthy and Productive (Part 4)

Continued from a previous post

Using electronics to go to sleep and wake up

My old way–at least several years ago old–of going to sleep and staying asleep would have been to pop a pill. Most commonly, something non-prescription from the drug store or even grocery store. As I become more health conscious, I really hate the idea of popping a pill for anything-especially, something to make me go to sleep and then something to help me wake up. When my first marriage was breaking up and I was getting no more than two hours a night of sleep, my physician prescribed Ambien for me and I was on it for a total of about two or three months…long past the point where it becomes addictive. I was worn out, emotionally raw, and I had to sleep. It was the only way I would ever be able to recuperate. So I conceded.

Every night at 9:30 I would take an Ambien and then situate myself in a recliner to spend the next 30 minutes watching a comedy with my then-husband. I would begin to feel the effects of the Ambien relaxing me at about 20 minutes and by the closing credits of the 30 minute sitcom, I was walking toward bed. On a few occasions, my ex wanted to talk after I had taken my dose and was past the 30-minute mark. I still have no idea what we talked about after the 30-minute mark. There are holes in my memory of any event, activity, or conversation that took place between 30 minutes after a dose and when I woke up the next morning. To be blunt, those little episodes of amnesia scared the crap out of me. My ex would tell me that I seem to be myself, normal in my conversation at least, and that I made it to my bed on my own with no problem. But I couldn’t remember. I could remember the closing credits of the TV show and then waking up the next morning.

But Ambien scared my ex as well. He said I didn’t sleep normally, that I slept like I was dead. And if he tried to wake me during the night, it was like I was unconscious. By the time my second prescription ran out, I was more rested and in a better state of mind to consider my future. That was the last time I have ever taken a pill to help me sleep.

I had been bio-hacking for a couple of years before I started hacking my sleep. Although back then we didn’t call it bio-hacking or self-quantification. My then-boyfriend and I referred to ourselves as, well, data whores. We kept spreadsheets of all sorts of information to see what exercise, what food, what sleep had an effect on our physical wellness as well as mental wellness. The Zeo was my first foray into sleep-hacking. It’s a shame the company’s gone out of business because I got some great data from the headband that I wore while I slept. It measured my brainwaves and could tell when I was sleeping in a deep sleep, light sleep, REM sleep, how many times I woke, sleep efficiency, all the things I’d never been able to determine before and that no smartphone app that detected movement on my bed during the night or even my FitBit could determine.

I used the Zeo, initially, to figure out how late in the day I could drink caffeine without it interfering with my sleep,  if I could drink caffeine at all, did my diet interfere with my sleep, did I sleep better or worse if I drank certain teas before bedtime, etc. I now keep up with sleep quality via my FitBitalthough it’s a distant runner up to what the Zeo was able to do for me.

Next up: electromagnetic pulsing and the Earthpulse machine.


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