Henry Harbor reader, contributor, and Shreveport native, Carter Hamm will be sharing his life—or at least a portion of it, sleep—with you. It is like our version of the Truman Show, but far less exciting. For the next 30 days, Carter will share his ups and downs as he struggles to accomplish his New Years resolution: to get at least 8 hours of sleep for 30 consecutive days.
Day 25: Feeling a bit overwhelmed today, not in a good way.
I haven’t written in a few days. My sleep has been really messed up. I had my son and his friend all weekend and peaceful sleep just wasn’t in the equation. They didn’t keep me up or anything like that. It has more to do with how difficult it is for me to adapt. When my plans or schedule get thrown off its like I am turned upside down.
Seeing this has really brought up some pretty big questions for me. Why am I so easily disturbed? Why does life again feel like a puzzle to be solved? I haven’t really had a routine in a few years, and now it makes a little more sense why I have struggled for so long.
I seem to be a person who thrives on routine. I was surprised how much it bothered me when I realized that I have a complete inability to “go with the flow.” There are definite things I can do to make myself more pliable or accepting of things as they are, and I have been failing to do them. Although these are probably the most important things I could possibly do and make a part of my life; I seem to be completely incapable of making them happen on a regular basis. So, this little experiment continues to teach me not as much about sleep as it does about me. Feeling a bit overwhelmed today, not in a good way.
Day 22: It Feels Good
Last night went as planned! I got my sleep and so did the boys. Nothing out of the ordinary. I felt pretty good again today, and last night made a few in a row. It feels good. This whole thing is starting to wind down and I hope I’m able to place as much importance on sleep in the future as I have over the past three weeks. It is proving to be important to me.
Day 21: I Feel Pretty Damn Good Today
I was looking forward to sleep by lunch yesterday. I had this whole evening planned. It revolved around getting ready for bedtime…….then life happened.
I thought I would get off work, run a couple of errands, actually cook something for dinner, then start a series of “I’m about to go to bed activities.” But, instead I didn’t even get home til almost 7. So I didn’t get done taking care of the business I needed to take care of until around 9, after running by Dahn’s and picking up dinner, of course.
Even though all this happened I was able to be in bed by 10 and get my 8 hours of sleep. I made a point yesterday to be more active at work, though this doesn’t exactly qualify as exercise….but it was better than nothing. I also ate pretty well yesterday. After the rip van winkle slumber I took Monday night and getting a full 8 in last night too, I have felt pretty damn good today. I plan on getting my sleep tonight; I just hope my boys allow that! I usually sleep sound when they are with me.
Day 20: Almost 12 Hours of Sleep
I took a new approach last night. It isn’t a sustainable one, but it went well last night. I decided to just turn the lights off around 7:30 get in the bed and lay there. I didn’t set an alarm and just accepted that I might be late for work. I got some text messages last night that I was unaware of until this morning, which tells me I must have fallen asleep before 8. I didn’t wake up until after 7…guess I needed some sleep. I haven’t really been able to tell any positive effects of sleeping so long, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Day 19: It isn’t the knowing that is difficult, but the doing
Today is one of those days….I don’t want to be writing this right now. Not even the slightest bit. I didn’t sleep well again last night. Woke up time and time again. I got up in a bad mood, not just from not getting good rest but from all that this little experiment has entailed. The being painfully aware of some of my shortcomings and all. Work hasn’t helped matters at all. The whole realization about diet,exercise and sleep being inextricably linked is really useless too, because like the old adage says, It isn’t the knowing that is difficult, but the doing.”
Day 18: Just Do It
Day 17: Moving through quick sand
I didn’t sleep well last night at all! First off, I stayed up way too late and I’m not at home. I didn’t even get 6 hours and it is unbelievable how much I can feel it. I really feel like I’m moving through quick sand and my brain is moving through tar. Can’t wait to get to bed tonight…
Day 16: Another night of racing thoughts.
Last night I got ready for bed early, laid down, and thought,thought,thought. I am not having as much control over my sleep as I thought I would. There seems to be a lot of factors that I never even thought were involved with sleep.
I really thought just turning everything off and getting in bed earlier would be all there was to it. But so far I’ve found out that apparently diet, exercise, and quite a few other things play a part in my ability to get a good nights rest. Even though this has gone NOTHING like I thought it would, it is still very interesting to me.
I really thought by now I’d be writing about how much better I feel as a result of all the good rest. The reality is I am probably more frustrated about it now than I was before. But, I have at least found some things out about sleep, and about myself.
Day 15: Still Frustrated
I got more than 8 hours last night!
I seem to do much better when I have my boys. We all got ready for bed and laid down at 9. My mind doesn’t really race when I have them. I am much more calm and in the moment. I’m not sure really what time I actually fell asleep but, it wasn’t too long after we laid down.
However, today I still do not feel very rested, and that leads me to believe that my thought about the 3 things being inseparable is correct.
This is a larger undertaking than I suspected…..still frustrated
Day 14: Ole Fateful
Last night was ridiculous. I went through a little going to sleep routine, and was quite proud of myself, if I’m honest. I got all wound down and ready for bed at a decent hour. It was about 9:30 and I was in the bed. 11 o’clock rolled around and I’m still laying awake, tossing and turning, my mind was just racing. Not really about anything in particular but just going and going and going… I couldn’t seem to settle it down, so I turned to my trusty ole habit…..eat myself asleep.
I got up and found something to snack on and finally got back in the bed around midnight. I did set the alarm for a little later, but didn’t end up getting 8 hours. I’m beginning to get pretty frustrated.
Day 13: Now let’s get on the horse and ride it!
After writing yesterday and coming to the conclusion that diet, exercise, and sleep were inseparable, I went grocery shopping.
I loaded up on healthy snacks: fruits, vegetables, and drinks. On the way out of the store I decided my favorite TV watching snack—pretzels—wouldn’t be that bad, as long as I stuck to the type of food I just bought for the rest of the day. So, before I checked out I grabbed a bag of pretzel sticks. When I got to the house I put the groceries up and put some food on the stove. I sat down to watch an episode of Breaking Bad, while it was heating…….and, I decided to have a few pretzels. I bought $75 dollars worth of healthy food and ended up eating 3/4 of a bag of pretzel sticks and passing out on the couch. Briefly woke up and turned the stove off and found my way to the bed.
Sometimes, I feel like I just can’t win simply because, well, I’m me and that is the type of shit I do. Anyway, I got more than 8 hours of sleep by way of a pretzel coma. Surprisingly, I feel pretty good today. So far I’m spending far more time getting back up on this horse that I am riding it.
Here we go again.
Day 12: Diet, Exercise, & Sleep—the Big Three
4th night in a row! I went to bed last night WORN OUT. I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired. I didn’t toss and turn trying to fall asleep, and I don’t remember waking up once all night. I really think the way I ate this weekend had a big part to play in it. I feel pretty alert and rested today, but I’m still sluggish. I know I talked earlier on in my resolution about taking one thing at a time…baby steps, but I’m thinking that maybe several of these things go together. Just like I try to separate my mind and body, when in reality they work together in a symbiotic relationship. I believe diet,exercise, and sleep might be intertwined in the same way; just extensions of each other. Maybe not, I really have no idea, just speculating based on what I have been experiencing, and it sounds good. Anyway, I’m terribly excited to get night number 5!
Day 11: Sleeping off the disaster in Seattle
Aided by food, yet again, I got another solid 8 hours last night. After watching the Saints game and eating the whole way through it, my body and mind were ready for sleep. I couldn’t wait to sleep away the painful memory of the game I just watched. I don’t really feel as good or as rested as I thought I would after a several consecutive nights, but that probably has more to do with what I put in to my body yesterday!
Day 10: Two straight nights…
Well I got 8 hours again. That’s two nights in a row. Last night I had some help from a large amount of Mexican food. I feel pretty rested today after two consecutive successful nights. I’m already looking forward to getting good rest tonight. I’m thinking setting my bed time may be a better option than adjusting my waking time from here on out. We’ll see.
Day 9: Days when I just do not want to write
Well, it looks like being sick worked.
I got the first straight-through night of sleep that I have had in a while. I felt rested when I woke up this morning, which has become a rarity in my life. Since today is Friday and I won’t have any specific time to be up for a couple of days, I’m hoping that last night was the first of a few nights in a row. I think getting a few nights in a row will really get me back in the groove of things.
Even though I haven’t really made very much head-way with my sleep as a whole, the commitment of this blog has been good for me. There have been days when I just do not want to write about any of this, but I have done it anyway. As simple as that sounds, it has been good for me (and probably people around me too)!
Day 8: Tickle fight and tag…
Last night, the little ones and I decided to watch a movie. I lasted longer than I thought, but somewhere in the first half hour or so, I was out. I woke up between the two of them, confused, as anyone would be who was suddenly awakened just after dozing off! Then I realized what woke me up.
My upstairs neighbors decided to vacuum at 10 on! Being the considerate people they apparently are, next they had a tickle fight and game of tag. I was fuming!
Honestly, I was glad the boys were there. I probably would’ve made an ass of myself had they not been. I looked around on the night stand for something I could throw at the ceiling. There was nothing and I was too tired to get up and look for a suitable object. I went on back to sleep and did get the 8 hours, but again, it wasnt continuous.
Today I can really feel the effects of not getting quality sleep several days in a row. To make matters worse, I’m sick now too; not sure if that has anything to do with the recent string of interrupted nights or not, but hopefully the sickness will actually help me get some good, deep rest.
If there is any hopscotch going on up there tonight I’m not so sure ill be able to keep my composure this time. Wish me luck.
Day 7: Tossing and turning
Nothing interesting to report today. I did get my eight hours last night, but they were pretty spread out. I fell asleep on the couch for a while and then woke back up after midnight. Really, I don’t feel much benefit just because I got 8 cumulative hours of sleep. I could be wrong, but I just don’t feel quite as alert or have as much energy when my sleep is interrupted multiple times at night. I am going to attempt to put together a little routine tonight to finish this out, something that helps me wind down and be ready for sleep. I want to know the effects of good sleep for weeks at a time.
Day 6: Grown-up tantrum
I ain’t excited about writing today. I have to publicly admit that I behaved like a small child last night.
I was watching the national championship game with some friends and having a good time, knowing the whole time I had to leave at half-time so that I could get in bed early enough to stick with this damn resolution. I was okay with that……until half-time got there.
I got up and left, but on the way home I got pissed. I had to leave when I didn’t want to in order to stick to a resolution that I made up! So, I get home and go through the whole getting ready for bed routine, and then it happened: I turned in to a 6 year old.
I pitched a fit in my own grown-up kind of way, which consisted mostly of just thinking:
I made the damned resolution, if I want to stay up, I’ll stay up!,Who the hell gets to bed in time to get 8 hours of sleep EVERY night anyway!? This is ridiculous!
So-on & so-on.
Basically, I pouted on my couch and stayed up too late to have any chance at getting 8 hours. Of course, that leads to the critical self-analysis all day today.
Anyway, I willfully blew it last night, but have every intention on saddling up again this evening. This resolution is getting to me in ways I expect. I’m still excited and interested….
Here’s to hoping I don’t pitch anymore tantrums.
Day 5: Today its just baby steps….and its working!
Last night was the most conventional sleep I’ve had in a in a long time!
I felt sleepy, got ready for bed, got in bed, and went to sleep. This may sound normal to you, but for me it’s abnormal and fantastic. I usually have a strange fear of the bed. I’ll lay on the couch until I fall asleep, then go get in bed, or if I go to bed when I’m tired I’ll lay awake sometimes for hours.
Last night, I only remember waking up once, which is rare for me. Today I feel much better than I did yesterday when I was running on half as much sleep. After only 5 days it is obvious that my sleeping habits have a huge impact on my daily life. I hope that as I am able to put together days and weeks of good, healthy sleep the positive impact will continue to grow and grow.
It still feels really odd writing everyday about something as uneventful as sleep. But, the funny thing is my curiosity about the affects of sleep is growing and it is becoming more and more interesting to me. I have this all or nothing mentality about just about everything I do. So if I decide I need to get in better shape, to start out walking everyday won’t cut it. I need to be an elite green beret ghost recon ninja warrior by the end of the week. I’ve noticed those same tendencies with this:
If a little more sleep is making me feel lot better, what would it be like if I changed my diet, exercised regularly, gave up nicotine and caffeine; oh and while I’m at it, kept sleeping better! I’d probably feel like Batman or Steven Segal or something.
I have to keep this kind of thinking in check. The usual outcome is I build up my expectations and when I can’t accomplish the whole thing I just walk away. So, today its just baby steps….and its working.
Day 4: I missed one night but that doesn’t mean I failed
The saints won a road playoff game last night, I had some good food, enjoyed great company, and had plenty of caffeine way too late in the day. All this means I stayed up entirely too late. I had plans to sleep in to ensure I got my 8 hours, but instead I woke up at 7:30 am and there was no going back to sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t get the 8 hours.
I immediately started beating myself up for sticking with my resolution for such a short time, but then I realized it’s not over! Just because I missed one night doesn’t really mean I failed.
So far I have learned more about myself than I have about sleep. I have seen just how undisciplined and critical of myself I am. These aren’t really fun things to realize, however they are valuable things to learn.
Once again, I can definitely tell a difference in my overall well being after not getting a full nights rest. I am sluggish and foggy. I believed in the beginning of this that sleep would prove itself to be essential to my mental and physical health, but I’m starting to see how this whole experiment has even larger implications.
Day 3: Up and down all night equals groggy all day.
Last night wasn’t that interesting. I had my boys, so I was worried about getting enough sleep to stay on track. They were pretty wound up. It’s strange how since I have an agenda now with sleep anything that looks like it might interfere becomes unacceptable. A week ago I would have thought nothing of them being hyper on a Friday night. I finally got to sleep around 11:30, so I set the alarm for 8. I tossed and turned all night and woke up at least half a dozen times. This morning I was definitely groggy and not really able to put my thoughts together or organize the day in my mind. I haven’t really noticed anything special on the nights I get my 8 hours, but I absolutely notice a difference this morning having had my sleep interrupted several times, which makes me even more curious about how this whole experiment will play out, because there was a definite difference in my mental state when I am up and down all night.
Day 2: I’ll have one more piece…well, maybe 2
I had a couple of errands to run after work and didn’t get home until about 6:30. While I was out I picked up a pizza. By the time I hit the couch to sit down, eat, and watch a little T.V., I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. There was nothing on, so I just flipped through the channels and ate entirely too much Johnny’s pizza. Then, apparently, I fell asleep. This wasn’t a natural tired feeling either; I felt like I had been given enough melatonin to knock out an elephant. I woke up around 11 pm and, for some reason, thought I should have one more piece of pizza…..well, maybe 2. Then I made my way to the bed, with the help of every wall between the couch and my room. I slept until 7 am. So, needless to say I got more than my 8 hours. I feel wide awake this morning and not the usual yawning every 5 seconds.
This New Years resolution thing is getting interesting, at least for me. Not only am I able to see how getting enough sleep effects me, but paying this much attention to my sleep has enabled me to see how other things effect me as well. When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the extreme tired that came over me on the couch, and thinking about what could have caused that. Like I said it wasn’t a good sleepy. There is only one thing I can think of: my diet yesterday consisted of sugar, caffeine, and pizza. Just writing that looks awful. The caffeine makes me stress out and the sugar, well, it just makes me weird. I guess my body was all amped up and just crashed. So, even though last night wasn’t pleasant, maybe I learned that diet has a pretty big impact on sleep.
Goal for today: eat something more nutritious than donut sticks for lunch and don’t drink 7 cups of coffee.
Day 1: Keep it Down!
So, last night was an interesting start to this deal. I was tired and falling asleep on the couch by 9. I got up and got in bed with plenty of time to spare to get my 8 hours. I remember seeing 10:10 on the clock, so I must have fallen asleep somewhere around there. The alarm was set for 7, I was in good shape. I live in an apartment now and am still not quite use to having neighbors that I can hear. I woke up at 1:30 and heard people talking pretty loud. I figured they were outside on the sidewalk, but seeing as how it was 1:30 in the morning and I was awoken out of a deep sleep I wasn’t sure if I actually heard them or if I was dreaming I had woken up. After a few minutes I realized they were really there and I was not happy.
Following a brief debate in my head I decided to just go back to sleep instead of going outside in the cold to make a point. I slept the rest of the night, but it took me a while to get back to sleep. I got my 8 hours cumulatively, but it wasn’t straight through. I don’t feel any immediate impact of getting enough sleep today, but that’s to be expected, because I have not gotten 8 hours of sleep consistently for some time.
Although I’m still chapped about people over-celebrating the New Year, I am still optimistic and exited about this whole thing.
I chose 8 hours of sleep for 30 consecutive days because I am interested to see what the mental and physical benefits, if any, will be. It seems that everything I’ve read about stress, anxiety, and overall good health talks a lot about sleep and its importance to our health.
I have mixed feelings about allowing people to track my progress with my New Years resolution. On one hand, I am hopeful of my ability to stick with it and of the positive changes it could cause in my life. on the other hand, if my track record with resolutions means anything, then this could be disappointing for me and boring for you. But there’s a possibility that this could prove to be a good thing, not just for me but for others, so there’s really no point in not giving it a shot. Overall I’m really excited. I look at it as an experiment and am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.