What Makes Me The Perfect Subject For This Experiment
Until the age of 9, I was blissfully unaware that it was possible to experience difficulty falling asleep. However, after making the monumental shift from Grade 1 to Grade 2, I encountered my very first science exam. I put in some serious work that afternoon, doing everything a 10 year old can to ensure top performance. Then it happened. For the first time in my life, I tried really hard to get to sleep. Oh boy…
The backfire that occurred that evening still haunts me to this day. The innocent act of attempting to switch off my mind unleashed a thought demon who happens to go by the name “Dickface Insomnia”. Most people only use his last name, but that’s because they don’t know him well enough. We go way back. He has a face which quite literally looks like a dick. Not the prettiest thing you will ever see.
Rather than attempting to cure myself of this particular affliction, I’ve spent the majority of my life accepting that it is something I will never be able to control. That was until I started this blog. Now I am super driven to break bad habits, form healthy habits, and document the journey along the way. I am confident that other people will be able to benefit from my learning experiences.
I say all this to make one thing explicitly clear. I am the perfect subject for this particular experiment because I have battled with insomnia for so long. My win loss ratio is abysmal. Because I am so useless in this particular aspect of life, if I achieve success, it will be a momentous occasion for insomniacs across the world. The will be able to draw hope from my struggle. If I don’t achieve success, the world will continue to revolve around the sun, and I will be in exactly the same place as where I started. I can live with that, because that is exactly how I have been living, for the past 21 years.
My Strategy For Learning How To Do This
I’ve taken a quick browse through Arianna Huffington’s book on this particular subject, and I am open to the suggestion that sleep hygiene is super important. However, my intention is somewhat bolder than changing the blue light filter on my phone. I want to be able to fall asleep on command, regardless of whether I’ve consumed caffeine that evening, or used an electronic device at night. Is that too much to ask?
Putting The 4-7-8 technique to the test.
Do some googling on how to fall asleep fast, and you will inevitably come across the 4-7-8 technique. It’s fairly simple. Breath in for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 7. Exhale for a count of 8. Repeat the process 2-4 times, multiple times per day, and just before you go to sleep.
I’ve opted for this approach because it is active rather than passive, there are a number of people who swear by it, and the great Google machine hasn’t really given me any other solid techniques (there are other techniques out there, but they just sound so wishy washy I can’t take them seriously).
Additional Motivation For Wanting To Learn This Skill:
My wife and I are expecting our first child in October. Obviously I’m super excited about our bundle of joy, but let’s be honest. New born babies aren’t exactly sleep inducing entities.
Attempt 1 – 4-7-8 Technique – (6:20pm) – 31/05/2018
I had a bit of post nasel drip during this session, which made the deep breathing a little bit trickier than normal. Gave myself 20 minutes to make the magic happen, but unfortunatley I was left wanting.
Found myself mentally venturing off to our family’s holiday home, and certain Leo Nardo dicaprio movie scenes (The Great Gatsby being the main one).
Attempt 2 – Stairway To Sleep Heaven – Thought Experiment (04 June 2018)
This is one of the hacks that I have started using to intentionally fall asleep. First off, I envision a spectacular golden staircase leading up to the heavens of my mind. Each set of 30 or so stairs, ends with a platform. The first platform contains the bed I sleep in at home. I get into the bed next to my beautiful wife, and we cuddle for a bit. After a bit of yawning and cuddling, I get out of bed, and continue up the staircase.
At the top of platform 2, the bed from our holiday home is ready and waiting. Again, my wife has been moved there magically (thanks brain). I get inside, and we do a bit more cuddling. It’s super comfortable, and I’m already losing my enthusiasm to continue moving up the staircase. Soon enough, I leave our special cocoon and continue the journey upward.
Platform 3 is another special sleeping location. It’s the Club Med Bed that we slept in when we went to Mauritius in 2015. The Aircon is powerful and everything is really dark. I spend a bit longer in this bed, thinking about our time during this amazing holiday.
Next up is the bed we slept in during our skiiing holiday in Swizterland. Sadly, the room had 2 single beds, so cuddling is a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, the mood is sweet and the memories are good. I reminisce about our time on the slopes.
For Platform 5, it’s the Dubai Airport hotel bedroom. This might seem bizarre, but we were absurdly tired by the time we made to the Airport hotel to sleep through our lengthy layover.
I used this for the first time while going to sleep yesterday.
Attempt 3: No caffeine Mate (18 June 2018)
While the thought experiments listed above have been helpful, I’m starting to accept that sleep hygiene is just as important as any thought experiment will ever be. So, for the first time in at 4 years, I decided to eliminate all forms of caffeine. I wasn’t expecting the results to be quite so drastic.
During the morning things seemed peaceful enough. I didn’t get my usual 2-3 cups of coffee/tea by 10:00am, so I expected a slump by around 12:00. Instead of a slump, I was greeted with the beginning of mild headache.
By 14:00, the headache set in properly, and I started to experience a drop in mental energy levels. By 16:00 I was starting to run on empty. I managed to get home at 17:00 and went straight to my bed. The intention was just to lie down for a little bit, and regather my energy. Soon enough, I had napped off about 3 times, pulling myself back to consciousness within a few minutes of dozing off.
To be honest, I’m still in shock. I haven’t felt this mentally tired in a seriously long time. I can literally feel my brain asking to rest. This could well be the gamechanger that I’ve been looking for.
- Continue without caffeine for the rest of this week
- Note my sleep quality over the period
- Switch to decaf coffee and rooibos tea
- Avoid eating chocolate in the late evening
Notes To Self:
It is actually quite common for people to get a headache if they go cold turkey with caffeine. This article has a bit more info: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-withdrawal-symptoms#section1
This eBook can help motivate you to Wean off caffeine – https://www.caffeineinformer.com/quit-caffeine
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