CBT: The Exercise

It’s been over a week and a half since my last post, where I mentioned it was time to start doing some exercise. It only seemed logical to exercise as a means to get myself exhausted and fall asleep quickly.

About a week ago I started jogging in the evenings with my out-of-shape dog Boxy. She’s a 3 year old English Bulldog who enjoys chewing on everything that comes across her, while still brilliantly and gracefully managing to avoid any unnecessary movement. I figured it would be helpful for an overweight dog and an insomniac to go jogging together. I know that bulldogs aren’t the best jogging companions as they are not built for this type of exercise (or any other exercise), but we’re talking about short-distance running. Very short. 1 kilometre.

It took me over 7 minutes to complete, and I had to stop to catch my breath a few times. Boxy? for a lazy bulldog she did alright and was panting heavily in the end as she did when I woke her up to go.

She slept well, I didn’t.

The shower dilemma

After my first run, there was one thing my mind struggled to solve on its own – the shower issue. While exercise is set to exhaust you, a good shower makes you feel alert and vigorous. How can you solve this problem? No, showering before running is not the right answer, although I thought it over for a while. My solution – hot baths; the ones I bitched about the other post? They get you clean AND relaxed! But, as I said before, it didn’t help me sleep.

Keep on running

I was reading in many online sites that regular exercise can improve your sleep quality and duration, but (and here’s something new) you shouldn’t do it right before bedtime as it has a stimulant effect on the body. It was also suggested that exercise should be done at least 3 hours prior to your bedtime. Sounds crazy and illogical, but I’m a man on a mission and I do try the follow what every insomnia forum and article in the world has to say!

In the following days I kept on running my very-long-distance 1 kilometre route. I believe that eventually I managed to handle a 1.5km run, but I’m not sure about it. Boxy quickly learned that an Under Armour shirt combined with a pair of Asics runners means jogging. Needless to say she was reluctant to join me; one has to admire Pavlov’s classical conditioning when it occurs right in front of you.

Hope

Last Tuesday it finally happened. I fell asleep at a normal hour (I think it was around 10:30 pm) and slept for hours over hours. 2.5 hours to be exact. Then I was back to my normal insomniac self, but it’s given me some hope that things can change for the better and that I wasn’t doomed to live like a computer-addicted Japanese teenager.

The next day I was heading towards Hervey Bay, as part of my plan to spend the weekend with a 3 other mates on Fraser Island, which I haven’t been to for over 10 years! It was great, but I’ll write more about it in my next post, reducing the risk of boring you to death right now.

-T

You are not an insomniac! (you’re just a nighttime philosopher)
Leslie Dean Brown (Too much credit for my nighttime nonsense.)

CBT… WTF?

So here’s a new acronym I’ve learned in the past week – CBT. It stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but if you ask me it means Current Bullsh*t Theory. Had a few colleagues at work tell me about it as a possible doctor-free treatment for my insomnia, read more about it online and I gotta tell you, some of the things I had to do according to the online tips I came across were as easy as, a few other things are better left unsaid, but this CBT – it’s worthless!

Things I’m willing to mention

Hot baths? Seriously? I literally spent over 10 hours this past week laying in my bathtub before going to bed. Wanna know how that worked? My skin is so pruney I think I’ll have to get infinite botox injections just to get rid of that 80s look (and I don’t mean the decade). On the bright side, I haven’t been this clean since I was a baby. Really, ask my wife; she can’t get her hands off me and now I have to fight both her and the insomnia off.

No TV before bedtime. You never realize how dependent you are of that idiot box once it’s restricted, and that also means no internet access. I missed The Amazing Race on Monday and for what? reading a book till 5am. I haven’t read a book in 15 years. Although it was quite a funny one (Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Oslander) I would much rather see the Kiwis get their asses kicked. Still got the finale, though.

I hate warm milk, even more than I hate cold milk (let’s just assume I generally hate milk), so when I read about it as a means to fight insomnia (my logic: drink milk->get stronger->literally beat the crap out of insomnia) I said to myself ‘HELL NO!’.
1.5 hours of staring at the walls changed my mind, though my taste buds were reluctant to follow and refused to let it pass, needless to say that floor got a little messy. I didn’t cry for it, that’s for sure.

What about reducing coffee consumption you ask? I used to drink 4-5 cups a day since this whole thing started, but this week I tried to keep a limit of 3, while having the last one around noon. Here’s what I discovered:

  1. There’s a direct correlation between the amount of coffee I drink and my performance at work
  2. There’s no correlation whatsoever between the amount of coffee I drink and my insomnia – I just get tired earlier
  3. To my surprise, there’s an indirect correlation between the amount of coffee and tea I drink(!!)
  4. Coffee is the insomniac’s water (you can quote me on that)
  5. Coffee causes skin wrinkling, so if you take long baths make sure you don’t drink any!

What’s next?

I saved the worst for last – exercise. I think I’ll have to try that one as it seems like a logical move on my part (someone said beer belly?), but I find it impossible to even start. Any other suggestions??

-T

His insomnia was so bad, he couldn’t sleep during office hours
Arthur Baer (I fear that day.)

What the hell am I doing here?

I hate insomnia.
That’s how I decided to open my first-ever post on my first-ever blog; I’m sure some of you will be disappointed to read that I stepped back from my initial opening line ‘God damn you stupid worthless piece of sh*t insomnia. I hope you die!‘ to a somewhat shorter cleaner version; I now realize that not all people were raised like bogans.

I’ve been pondering quite a while whether I should start writing a blog. It always seemed like such a waste of time – why would anyone bother to read all the nonsense I had in mind? and then I thought it over and remembered that I do read other people’s not-so-interesting blogs myself whether as part of my job, or in my spare time – so yeah, I’m now certain someone will find interest in this!

Actually, what really got me going is the fact that I’ve been struggling to sleep normally for the past 2 months or so. After discussing this with my wife and a few friends, they all suggested I would go see a doctor. I decided to listen to my teenage kid and start complaining about it. Online.

So here I am, complaining. I’m a 56 year old father who’s unable to sleep – that sounds a bit childish, doesn’t it?
I must admit though that it’s not all bad; having these quiet nights just for myself can be fun at times: I get to drink a lot of Fourex while watching TV without anyone bothering me!

The downside of it takes place the next morning, when I’m at work holding my eyelids open, staring at the monitor like in the famous Clockwork Orange scene. I’m sure my boss is not too happy about it either, especially when I drink a 6-pack just to pass out and fall asleep and show up to work the next morning. Lucky for him, I don’t work directly with our customers, and I can do this job half-unconscious.

Can Facebook help me deal with insomnia?

I find myself writing a few words and then staring at random memes and pictures on Facebook. Gotta love Facebook, this decade’s biggest time-waster; I must admit it’s useful to a certain point when you find yourself unable to sleep, but once you reach the point of being unable to absorb all the shallowness that people express there, you’re done and you have to find something else to do, so you blog.

(Whenever I mention Facebook, it always reminds me of Louis CK. He’s one funny guy.)

What I’m trying to figure out is what caused this insomnia? I don’t remember having any sleeping problems in the past, but I think my sleep started to worsen 5-6 months ago when I used to wake up in the middle of night, unable to get back to sleep. I’m not worried about anything that I’m aware of; my mind is completely blank when I go to bed (my wife claims it’s blank during the day too) and yet I lay there completely awake. I want my sleep back – I, as most normal human beings, cherish my sleep very much!

-T

Insomnia is my greatest inspiration.
Jon Stewart (Not mine, that’s for sure.)