Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sweet Dreams are Made of These!

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They say if you have plenty of vivid dreams, then you are getting good quality sleep. Last night I had a dream that I was taking a school tour through a museum that just happened to be haunted. And I was being protected the object of my high school affection, Todd W. The dream was filled with plenty of detail, and plenty of making out in dark corners.

Before I read Good Night The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health by Michael Breus, Ph. D. I don't recall dreaming ever since Sam started hanging around.

Long time readers may recall that I've mentioned my sleep troubles before. They might also remember my adventures with ear plugs. I've been a troubled sleeper since adolescence, and the situation has only been compounded by snoring sleep partner, a baby and a pregnancy. For a period during college, I spent some time in behavior modification therapy with the main intention of improving my sleep. While it helped, it wasn't as comprehensive as I would have liked. Now a few years later, Dr.Breus' book has provided me with all the information my therapist left out, and I've noticed a big difference in my sleep quality.

When I started reading Good Night, I was initially discouraged. There is a little caveat on page 57 that says pregnancy complicates the hell out of everything, and a discussion of such is beyond the scope of the book. However I decided to press on. I'm not going to be pregnant forever (only 20 more weeks!) and I'm sure I'll use the strategies I develop because of this book after the arrival of Numero Dos. Or at least a few weeks (or months) after the arrival of Numero Dos.

After the introductory chapter, the book goes into a series of quizzes to determine what type of problems, or disordered sleep, you are having. The book makes a clear distinction between true sleep disorders (insomnia and sleep apnea) and disordered sleep, which is what afflicts the typical person. After taking the quizzes, I determined that the root of my sleep trouble was anxiety and my sleep partners. Duh. After each quiz is an action plan to be put to use immediately.

The very first item on my action plan turned out to be the most effective sleep inducing technique I have ever tried. It was so simple it was almost elegant, the very definition of good science. All I had to do was count backward from three-hundred by three. On the fist night, I was asleep before I even hit two-hundred.

After some additional evaluation of my sleep environment, I jumped headfirst into Sleep Boot Camp, which is detailed in chapters 8, 9 and 10. While I wasn’t able to stick to the schedule exactly as it’s outlined, the book allows for a little personalization. I found it very useful that the sleep diary discussed in the book is clearly outlined in the appendices, as well as many of the retailers Dr. Breus mentions in the text. We ordered not one, but two white noise machines from the Ear Plug *Super* Store. All of these resources can also be found through Dr. Breus’ blog, The Insomnia Blog.

Overall, I was very pleased with the newfound quality of my sleep. Despite being pregnant and having to get up to pee at least once a night. Already. If I manage to keep up the good habits I’ve gained as a result of this book, I’ll be in halfway decent shape once F Squared arrives.

How about you? Do you think you could benefit from better sleep? Um, you’re lying if you said no. Leave a comment by Monday at 10am and WIN my gently used copy of Good Night The Sleep Doctor's 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health by Michael Breus, Ph. D. Winner to be chosen by my highly technical randomizer. Good luck!

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