As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed lately. I’ve allowed a coffee habit to creep back into my life over the last two weeks or so, and yesterday was the first day I started to tamp it back down with diluted black tea. No headache yet, so I think we’re in good shape. I can tell when I’ve had coffee for too many days in a row when my jaw seizes up on the first sip. I can actually feel myself giving myself a headache. (Yes, a lack of coffee AND too much coffee both give me a headache. Probably a sign that I shouldn’t drink it.) People don’t usually believe me when I say that coffee makes me clench my jaw, but it does if I drink it too much, and I reached that threshold earlier this week and continued to drink coffee til yesterday morning. I finally decided to start listening to my body and am cutting it out again.
My love for the flavor of coffee is always what brings me back. My general cycle is to banish it, then start allowing decaf Americanos only on weekends, then inch my way up to half-caf, then start having an occasional weekday morning cup. Then I realize I’ve had it every day for a week. Then I think, “Well I feel fine, so maybe it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to …” Then I continue to drink it for another week or so, until one day it just hits me; my jaw starts feeling tight, and I have to start the cycle over again. It usually goes in about two-month waves. Does this sound like an addiction to you? Maybe just a slightly dysfunctional relationship … but it’s so delicious!
Part of the problem is that I haven’t been sleeping all that soundly. I’ve been going to bed too late, watching TV too late (which I know I shouldn’t do, but Daredevil is SO GOOD), and having trouble falling asleep once I lay down (I wonder why). Dexter has allergies this time of year, so she wakes up around 4am and scratches violently, shaking the whole bed and waking me up, just about every morning. Then I fall back into a deep sleep until my alarm goes off at 7am.
I’ve been using a sleep tracking app that claims to wake me up at a good point in my sleep cycle so that I’m ready to get out of bed and seize the day each morning. I think it works, but being physically ready doesn’t make me psychologically ready. Out of habit, I press snooze, snuggle with Dex, and fade back to sleep. At this point it’s pretty-much Pavlovian, even though I want to get up, and I know that every time I press snooze I’m just going to feel more tired when the alarm goes off again. I just can’t seem to stop myself from doing it. Lately it’s been taking me an average of 30 minutes to get out of bed from when the alarm goes off.
Resetting my Sleep Cycle: Lights Out
I clearly need to reset my sleep cycle to get back on track. We know that poor sleep affects gut health. We know that gut health affects weight and skin health, and we know that my own weight and skin, in particular, are super sensitive to a disrupted gut. So for me, it’s not just about feeling better, it’s about vanity.
And what motivates people more than vanity?
Ok, I’m sure a lot of things, but guess what, it’s a big motivator. Let’s just come out with it.
Resetting my sleep cycle is going to mean getting back to practicing what I preach. The biggest one is making sure I’m turning off my devices — including the TV — at least an hour before bed. I also bought some blue light blocking glasses (affiliate link) to wear if I’m watching TV at night, but lately I’ve been too lazy to find them and put them on. Starting last night, I’m committed to wearing those for any screen usage after sunset. I also have F.lux on my home computer — a blue light blocking software that syncs up with your time zone and fades the blue light out of your screen as the sun goes down — but I think that my overall computer usage probably needs to power down a little earlier each night. I do love the apps that block out the blue light though. I used to have one called Twilight on my Android phone, but there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent app for my new iPhone. I’m waiting for AppleTV to make one for the the big screen. In the meantime, I have my nerdy glasses.
My New Meditation App: MindBody Sessions
I’ve been using MindBody Sessions for a couple of months now, and I’m finding some really positive changes happening when I use it consistently. MindBody Sessions is an app chalk-full of guided meditations and relaxing “radio” scientifically studied and shown to aid in the various capacities specified on the app (sleep training, stress management, pain in various capacities, etc). I’ve mostly focused on the sleep training features of the app, and I can honestly say that the ones I’ve tried (there are so many, maybe hundreds) are really helpful. Last night I started my bedtime routine a little bit earlier. I was physically exhausted but was having racing thoughts, so I played the track “Relax into Sleep” as I settled in for the night. Following the recorded voice and relaxing into the soothing sounds in the background, I faded off to sleep before the recording was over. My fancy app that I use for sleep tracking said that my sleep was 96% efficient last night, and I woke up this morning feeling more rested than I have in at least ably two weeks. (I mentioned that this app is great when I’m consistent with it, and I haven’t been using it the last couple of weeks.)
In tandem with tempering my electronics and cutting the coffee, I plan to use MindBody Sessions to get myself back on track. I’m hoping it will be a quick turnaround, and based on last night, I think it will be.
No one at MindBody Sessions paid me to give their app a little love, but I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll partner with me at some point in the future, possibly to become my first official sponsor. In the spirit of full transparency, I thought I’d share that with you.
FTC DISCLOSURE: This post contains an affiliate link (CWB Favorite Picks), which means I may receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only link to products that I USE and LOVE. All opinions are my own.