Sleep Experiments – Progress Update

Four the past four days, I’ve managed the wake/get up much earlier than usual. One day, I even woke up at 5AM. Though, I didn’t try to force it. A couple times, I set alarms to remind me that a Zoom call was happening that morning, but I ended up waking before the alarms went off.

I’m going to be trying the sleep log/diary from the Sleep Foundation’s websites (found here). I started it midweek, but wrote it for the wrong day. I think it’s easier to fill it once a day for the previous day/night. So, that’s what I plan on doing.

Right now, I am dream logging every morning. I usually delay writing for 10-20 minutes, so I end up missing a lot of details. I think that will change once I rearrange my space, so that the dream notebook is right there and easy to write. And in addition, I’ll slip in a sheet of the sleep log/diary to see how next week goes.

I’ve been taking 3mg of dissolvable melatonin for the past 4 days, so I wonder if that helped me to stay asleep during the night. Sometimes, I fall asleep late, but I have been waking up earlier, so that’s good. I tried melatonin before, but I think I was taking them wrong (not giving them enough time to dissolve before consuming water). And also, I wasn’t consistent with it. Well, you can take melatonin for a day or two and stop too. But, I want some consistency going before I stop them.

Another method I’ve been trying is using a DIY sleeping mask. I’m using a new face mask that I never used, and I just tighten it and move it up to cover my eyes. I’ll probably buy a nice sleep mask soon, since this tends to come off in the middle of the night. But, it’s nice because I don’t have to worry about light coming into my room (from the moon, streets, or sun) and disturbing me.

I also bought a new pillow. It’s okay. Or well, above average. It was only $10, but I tested it in the store and tried it because it was specifically for side sleepers. It doesn’t leave my neck feeling hurt at all, so that’s good enough for me.

I still have some other ideas to try. One idea is getting earplugs to block out sounds coming from outside, typically sounds such as the roaring lawn mower, dogs barking, and trash pickup. The other idea is to get a cheap smartwatch to track my sleep as well as as other health habits/monitors (sedentary reminder, water intake, steps taken, period tracker, etc.). I’ve never owned a smartwatch before, so I’d get a cheap one to see if I like it. Honestly, the cheap ones seem to have all the functions I’m looking for anyway, and more.

I’ve tried other sleep hygiene methods such as no screens an hour before bed, no food 2-3 hours before bed, drinking a cup/glass of water upon waking, and no getting into bed until you’re ready to fall asleep. Screens don’t seem to affect me either way. I’ve stayed up reading hardcover books late at night, and I’ve fall asleep to watching videos on YouTube. I also typically eat dinner between 6-7PM, and that doesn’t really seem to make a difference. I tried drinking water right upon waking, but I usually can’t bring myself to drink a whole cup/glass immediately. I also did think about getting a nice chair and rearranging my bedroom space so that I can sit in it and use the bed only for when sleeping. It gets uncomfortable sitting up and laying in bed to read books, anyway. I think it would be a nice tip to follow.

Other things I’ve tried is drinking a bit more water throughout the day (I think I get around 5-6 cups a day now). I’m trying to get more into physical activity (went to Zumba once last week and yesterday, and have a personal training session coming up on Monday). I also have been having big salads to eat for lunch. (I didn’t consistently eat lunch in the past, and having something simple to make that I can vary each time definitely helped.)

I noticed that when I get ready to go to sleep, I don’t feel “tired” or “sleepy” per se, but kind of uncomfortable. For example, it’s hard to focus on what I’m reading, or I get this slightly weird feeling in my head. So, that’s when I turn the lights off and put on my sleep mask. I don’t know how long it takes for me to fall asleep, but if I had to guess, definitely less than 30 minutes, maybe less than 20 minutes.

I thought about giving myself a hard cutoff of lights out and sleep mask on by 1AM. But, sometimes, I really don’t get that sleepy. So, I’m looking at it as a soft cutoff, and if I really can’t sleep, then I won’t force it.

So, here’s a quick bullet list of what I want to add to what I’m already doing:
– Buy a proper sleep mask to use, maybe two to switch back and forth between washes
– Try earplugs
– Soft sleep cutoff at 1AM
– Sleep log/diary for at least 1 week in addition to dream logging
– Rearrange my bedroom so that it’s easier to dream log in the morning or sit up and not lay in bed before sleeping (part of my September challenge of decluttering)
– Keep taking melatonin for a few weeks until I’m waking up relatively early consistently
– Increase my physical activity (currently walking or taking a class at least once a week, bump it up to twice a week)

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