4HB: Improving Sleep

The chapter on improving sleep was the first one I read upon getting the book. It was finals week and I was strung out. I’ve been taking Adderall (Amphetamine Salt) for a couple of months now to help me focus and study. It works but has a couple of side effects – increased heart rate and messing with my sleep.

So I felt like I needed more or better sleep. But what is better sleep?

If I’m going to measure something and try and improve it I need to know what is better. There are two things I think we can start with.

How I feel when I get up.
How tired do I feel during the day.

Both of these things are subjective. Still I could measure them based on my subjective feeling. Just ask myself when I get up to grade my crappiness on a scale of 1 to 10 would do it.

Enter the Four Hour Body.

Tim tried a number of gadgets and settled on recommending the Zeo Sleep Coach. I put it on my Christmas list and got it.

The coolest thing about the coach is it lets you actually track you sleep. When I first started taking Adderall and noticing the sleep problems I started writing down when I went to sleep and when I got up. Also when I took my pills. These numbers were soft because I may have gotten into bed and laid there for an hour unable to go to sleep, but my number was when I got in bed. Also I might have woke up during the night 3 times for 15-30 minutes. Not in my log.

Adderall is a treatment for ADHD with a side effect of insomnia. But insomnia is also a symptom of ADHD. People with ADHD will lay in bed with their mind bouncing from one thing to another unable to sleep. The trick is to get your Adderall on the way down when you are ready to sleep, so it slows the thoughts down, but also allows you to sleep.

The Zeo changes all of this. It tracks when you get in bed, how long before you are asleep, how many times you wake up and for how long. It also tracks total sleep time and sleep phases – REM, Deep and Light sleep. It gives you an overall Z score and we will see how well that score helps me. When you put the headband back in the cradle it asks you to rate how well you slept on a scale of 1-5. Those numbers should be interesting.

The other pieces of data I need to collect are when I take my pills. I’m taking a number of different substances including thyroid, testosterone, Lisinopril, and supplements. I plan on measuring them as well.

Zeo gives you a number of “sleep stealers” to log and suggest changing. I will keep those too.

Will I sleep better. Hard to say. Just tracking my sleep for 4 days so far has been cool. I’ve found I sleep way longer than I thought. When I get up in the night – normally to pee – I’m not awake as long as I thought. Two things that haven’t happen are going to school and taking my Adderall in the afternoon.

Data and results to come.