My 5 year quest for a good night’s sleep

UPDATED FOR MONDAY MARCH 28, 2022! I finally received my CPAP machine prescription, it’s now just a matter of waiting to get a machine, but, the hard part is over!

This is my sleep story. It’s a work in progress

Anyone who’s seen my eyes in-person or a video call from about Dec 2021 to now so can tell I’m goddamn tired. I don’t try to hide it, I’m not even sure how I would, maybe a Zoro mask?

The Mask of Zorro Rebooted a Classic Hero - Paste

How did I get here? Let’s review , year-by-year from 2017

2017

I’ve had sleep issues going back to about 2017, at the time, I wasn’t too worried about it. I had left my comfortable staff job at Royal Bank of Canada to try my hand at independent IT consulting. I had a lot to learn, and being a naturally anxious person, day time anxiety eventually started to impact my night-time sleep. I was able to keep my sleep *mostly* stable with heavy gym activities 3-4 times a week with a personal trainer. At this time, I was getting approx 6 hours sleep per night, but rarely waking up, so, it was a solid six hours

2019

I moved to another consulting position that was more demanding, but also more fulfilling. I understood this new job would increase my stress/anxiety and further prey on my sleep like a thief in the night. Around this time, I started to take more proactive action to help maintain proper sleep.

Along with regular trips to the gym, I made the following changes in 2019:

  • Started to practice mindful meditation
  • Reduced temperature in the room to be cooler than usual in the winter
  • Added ear plugs to remove outside noise disturbances
  • Added a weighted blanket

The above sleep hygiene changes worked well enough, I would get 6 – 7 hours of sleep, and wake up feeling energized and ready for the day, at this time, I was working from an office 3-4 days a week, so would wake up around 730 am to get to the office for 830 am

Feb 2020

At this point, Canada was in full pandemic mania mode, and we’ve been ever since with really no end in sight. The constant fear-driven messaging from our Canadian federal / provincial / media agencies has certainly played it’s part in leading to the situation we’ve got as of 2022 , where 30% of Canadians are reporting “burn out” .

I’m not burnt out, but let me tell you, I’m a bit CRISPY around the edges, boy 🤣. My sleep has never been worse as of Jan 2022, but it started to go to 💩 around Feb 2020

2021

2021 was essentially 2020 v2. Essentially, everything I was doing at this point to improve my sleep, was actually just to “break even”. This is the year where I really started to notice the feeling of waking up, and feeling like I’d hardly slept @ all

Feeling *mostly* undeterred and highly organized with my beloved MS OneNote tracking system, I made the following changes in 2021:

  • Ensuring any bathroom prep is done 1 hour before bed: Brushing/flossing/washing my face/etc
  • No alcohol / caffeine/ sugary drinks at night – M-Thursday
  • Prescription sleeping pills from the doc
  • Changes to my reading / TV / movie consumption before bed. For example, comedies or cartoons only for TV, and nothing “heavy’ in terms of news content that might get me fired up
  • Strict M-Thursday bedtime of 12 am. In reality, this meant it felt natural to go to bed around 12 am on the weekend days of Fri-Sat-Sun as well. “Late” for me now is about 1 am
  • Stopped reading the daily Covid-19 case counts for Montreal/Canada/The World/Mars/etc

I’ve listed the various changes over the past 3 years , as I believe them all worthwhile habits to follow. Certainly other less “anxiety prone” people might adopt even just a few that I’ve listed, and note an improvement in the quality of their sleep

Dec 2021

I was on a 10 day break from work, and noted that my sleep was WORSE than ever? But why? I wasn’t working, just seeing the odd friend, talking on the phone, relaxing and reading comics. I was going to bed at 12 am, waking up at 8 am, but felt like I’d only slept a few hours. It was time to seek out professional help.

I’m from Manitoba, but currently reside in Quebec, which has a famously terrible health care system. It runs in a semi-broken state at the best of times, C19 has made things worse. My doctor resigned in 2021, and I’ve been on a waiting list to get a new doc ever since, I have no idea when I’ll get a new doctor, so have been using walk-in clinics in the Montreal suburb of Verdun where I reside. Walk-in clinics bring their own frustration, as each time I’ve visited the clinic down the street from me, I get a new doc, who asks me the same questions.

Regardless, I visited my assigned random doc on Dec 31, 2021 (happy new year!) and got a referral to a private sleep clinic. I got an “at home sleep test” to be evaluated for sleep apnea ; which is where you stop breathing for very short periods of time while asleep, and wake up.

The at home sleep test involves hooking up a monitor to your index finger and a set of small probes into your nostrils. I found the first test super uncomfortable, the second wasn’t as bad. It’s not much fun having all this shit hooked up, it is a means to an end.

I’ve got a remote video consultation with a sleep specialist at the clinic in February. I would then hope to be given a recommended solution. Generally, this is a CPAP / BPAP machine such as the below

BiPAP vs CPAP Machine: What Is The Difference Between CPAP and BiPAP  Machines? | CPAP.com

Other more comfortable options include custom mouth pieces that move the position of the jaw foreword slightly to increase airflow, or custom nose pieces, such as the below:

Introducing the world's first hoseless, cordless, maskless, battery-powered  CPAP device. — Airing

Now, I breath through my nose during sleep, so the CPAP/BPAP option or custom nose piece would probably be more ideal. It will be up to the sleep specialist at the clinic to guide me in early Feb 2022. Another option, the most extreme , is sinus surgery 👃 😱

March 2022

I finally received my CPAP machine prescription, it’s now just a matter of waiting to get a machine, but, the hard part is over! I will update this blog when I get my CPAP machine in the coming weeks / months, due to C19 bullshit, there are shortages

And to all, a good night

I will update the blog post as I progress through treatment and recovery. If your own sleep sucks, I hope you can take something away from my experience and steps to improve my sleep

To close, here are some pix of my little beast, who has ZzZzZero issues sleeping 😄

Sleep well, my friends!

Owen and coffee bean ♥

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