A new idea, and a new format for the show. There will be 5 segments for the show, M-F. Recorded either in the car on the way home, or in the studio. Each week I will tackle something I have identified as an issue to resolve in one of my core areas.
We will do the research, and then present the findings. A subject can have more than one week, so we will keep to an issue until we have a resolution. We will go back and check in with previous results to see if I'm still keeping to them. I'm not sure how yet, but we'll see. It should be bigger than just the podcast, I think. I'm open to ideas.
The first episode has to do with my issues getting to and staying asleep. I'm sure we all remember the days of being nightowls and party animals. I was certainly a night owl, and as recent as a few years ago, I would stay up late (or early) to catch things that 'couldn't be missed'. Or, just working on my website, podcast, my passion. And yes, sometimes, goofing off on the human highlight reel of social media. My prize for that loyalty to concerts, podcasts, and pay-per-views? Hideous sleep habits.
In my middle age, my body is telling me that 9pm is too late, and my cat is my body's enforcer. She comes in somewhere between 830 and 9 to complain that I'm not where I should be.
I end up going back to the bedroom and it takes me forever to get settled down and to go to sleep. When I do, I only sleep for about 4 hours at a time before I get up for 15 minutes and back to bed. I wake up almost as tired as I was when I went to sleep.
As I go through the week, this creates a sleep 'debt' that gets very hard to pay back, if ever. If I can be honest, I rarely get a chance to catch up. And you know, if you suffer from prolonged sleep deprivation, or even just getting really quality sleep for a long period of time, it will start affecting you in other areas, social, professional, physical and mental.
I want to take a second to do a deep dive on the effects of sleep deprivation for a second, because I can point to one example where getting this right will be extremely helpful to me. Sleep is, at it's basic core, your body resetting for the next day. You need good sleep as much as you need air and food. This next bit is from an article from Healthline:
When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If it continues long enough, it can lower your body’s defenses, putting you at risk of developing chronic illness. The more obvious signs of sleep deprivation are excessive sleepiness, yawning, and irritability. Chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with balance, coordination, and decision-making abilities. You’re at risk falling asleep during the day, even if you fight it. Stimulants like caffeine are not able to override your body’s profound need for sleep.
Your central nervous system is the information highway of your body. Sleep is necessary to keep it functioning properly. During sleep, the brain rests busy neurons and forms new pathways so you’re ready to face the world in the morning. In children and young adults, the brain releases growth hormones during sleep. While you’re sleeping, your body is also producing proteins that help cells repair damage.
Sleep deprivation leaves the brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties well. The most obvious effect is sleepiness. You may find yourself yawning a lot and feeling sluggish. Lack of sleep interferes with your ability to concentrate and learn new things. It can negatively impact both short-term and long-term memory. It gets in the way of your decision-making process and stifles creativity. Your emotions are also affected, making you more likely to have a short temper and mood swings. Overall cognitive function is impaired.
If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you’re at increased risk of hallucinations, especially if you have narcolepsy or systemic lupus erythematosis. Lack of sleep can trigger mania in people who have manic depression. Other risks include impulsive behavior, depression, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts.
A side effect of sleep deprivation is micro sleep. That’s when you’re asleep for only a few seconds or a few minutes, but you don’t realize it. If you’re sleep deprived, micro sleep is out of your control and can be extremely dangerous if you’re driving. It can also make you more prone to injury due to trips and falls. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, insufficient sleep has played a part in tragic accidents involving airplanes, ships, and even nuclear reactor meltdowns.
When you’re sleeping, your immune system produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies and cells. It uses these tools to fight off foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. These cytokines and other protective substances also help you sleep, giving the immune system more energy to defend against illness.
Sleep deprivation means your immune system doesn’t have a chance to build up its forces. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep, it’s more likely that your body won’t be able to fend off invaders. It may also take you longer to recover from illness. Long-term sleep deprivation raises your risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Since sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, you’re more vulnerable to respiratory problems like the common cold and influenza. If you already have a chronic lung disease, sleep deprivation is likely to make it worse.
According to Harvard Medical School, a few studies have found a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. Along with eating too much and not exercising, sleep deprivation is one of the risk factors for obesity.
Sleep deprivation increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. Lack of sleep lowers your levels of a hormone called leptin, which tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. In addition, it raises levels of a biochemical called ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant.
Sleep deprivation prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat, promoting fat storage and increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Since you’re more likely to gain weight if you’re chronically sleep deprived, you’re also at increased risk of problems with your cardiovascular system.
Sleep plays a vital role in your body’s ability to heal and repair your blood vessels and heart. Sleep deprivation can lead to higher risk of chronic health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. According to Harvard Medical School, for people with hypertension, one night without enough sleep can cause elevated blood pressure all through the next day.
Those last two. Look at those. Weight gain, and diabetes. I don't know a damn thing about those, do I? In my twenties and thirties when I worked past the point of dropping, sitting on my ass in a cubicle for 12 to 16 hours a day, pounding Fritos and Mountain Dew like there were no damn consequences? Then sleeping maybe 4 hours a night because I had work to do?
This is what kills us. This. In fact, sleep deprivation increases ANY cause of death by 15 percent. Not just car accidents and suicides...ANY cause of death. It's a force multiplier of suck. Of course, I had to go and make it worse...
My brain has been wired to wake up at 430 now, thanks to taking the advice of one of the productivity gurus I've stidied for the last year or so. The upside is, I now get hot water in the morning because I'm first in the shower. The bad news is, I shut down around 9 pm if I'm lucky. I try to hold out to 930 but it gets exhausting. Even though I'm exhausted, I can't get to sleep for a long while, and it's fitful at best.
This is the first thing I need to resolve. Nothing else works if I'm not getting enough sleep. So, where to start?
First, we need to figure out where here is. I'm a firm believer in the following quote, and when it comes to personal and professional performance, there is no truer statement than this: If you can measure it, you can manage it. That's from a guy named Peter Drucker. I don't know if he's one of these circle jerking gurus, but I don't care. That's such a true statement, I'll even confess confirmation bias and I don't really care if you can prove me wrong. Anecdotally, in my life, it is absolutely true.
I downloaded the Pillow App for iOS to track my sleep quality. It rates me at 50 percent sleep quality, which is a pretty poor baseline. So, now that I know this, what is success?
I will set an initial safe goal of increasing that by at least 10 percent. A stretch goal will be defined as me being able to raise my sleep quality percentage 20 percent or more. That would put the bottom line number at 75 percent or higher.
I will post my morning numbers every day Monday through Friday on my Instagram Page. I will also be posting my diabetic numbers, because I believe that keeping to my diet and getting that sleep will result in better diabetic numbers as well. You get to hold me accountable. Patreon supporters will get a weekend show with the final numbers and some closing thoughts. You can go to patreon.com/krisroley for more information on being a supporter.
The Evening Routine I'm adapting to see if my sleep quality improves:
- Limit Caffeine. I've chosen a cutoff of 3pm for caffeine.
- Earlier Dinner with Water to drink.
- Work stops at 8:00pm. If I don't have it done, it can wait another day in most cases.
- 15 to 30 mins of exercise.
- 10 Minutes of Meditation using the Calm App. (iOS & Android) (Subscription)
- Cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea, or Yogi Caramel Bedtime Tea (Amazon Links)
- 10 ml dose of Melatonin.
- Lay out clothes for next day, pack lunch (if not already done. Often times I'll do that the first thing I come in the door from work.)
- 10 minutes of visual overwriting. I play poker, some people recommend tetris. It rewires the brain to the present moment, not what you have to worry about tomorrow. DO NOT JOURNAL. You'll focus on tomorrow and that's detrimental to sleep.
- Read until drowsy, then lights out.
- Pillow app (iOS) Sleep Tracker, watch is on my wrist and connected to my phone in the other room.
- No screen devices other than my Kindle and my watch are allowed in the bedroom.
- No snooze in the morning. We are up and check the app asap.
So, that's the setup. Yup, all of that was how the 'experiment', for lack of a better term will work.
So, the next part is for me to show my work, right?
Exactly. What you're going to hear next--because I feel like I should explain the difference in the audio quality--is a daily diary for Monday Through Friday. I'm going to discuss the data points, and anything I think is related to the subject for the day. Now, this is a LITTLE bit different from anything I've done in the past, but I hope you'll understand that I'm doing this in the effort to be as transparent as I can.