Night Two of My Sleepless Sleep Hack

edward norton fight club
“With insomnia, nothing’s real.” -Edward Norton from the film “Fight Club” (1999)

So far, my sleep hack is not only not producing good results, things are slipping drastically backward.

Yesterday evening, I decided to take all three “oral” hacks at once: HTP-5, Natural Calm, and RelaxMax. This was around 7 p.m., so I figured I’d have a good hour for all of that stuff to kick in.

Around 7:30, I set up the Sleep Induction Mat in bed, and continued reading Bill Gifford’s book Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) unwinding on the “pokey” sleep mat.

Earlier, I did a little research on the Bulletproof Sleep Induction Mat, and although Amazon had no reviews, there was other information to be had online.

The primary review I found is at Jesse B. Andersen’s blogspot. I say this because Andersen reviewed three different sleep induction acupressure mats: ZENsufu, Spoonk, and Bulletproof.

You can click the link to read the review, but Andersen concluded that he preferred the Bulletproof product. Of course, the last line of his review was a disclosure that he receives a small commission for each of the products he reviews if you buy them on Amazon, so he’s not necessarily 100% objective.

On the other hand, he was the most unbiased reviewer I found in my quick Google search.

MMA Warehouse also rendered a positive review, but they’re selling the mat, so no love there.

Ameer Rosic gave a glowing review of the mat based on his personal “scientific” assessment, but he’s a personal friend of Dave Asprey who is founded Bulletproof as a for-profit organization, so I can’t say Rosic is particularly unbiased either.

And then, of course, there’s Bulletproof’s own assessment of their mat.

In theory, there is some basis to believe that sleep induction mats in general help promote sleep in those who use them.

But what about me?

Back to last night but a couple of disclosures first.

After lunch, I was exhausted and decided to have one more cup of coffee after noon, so I broke my own rule there. Also, when I was reading while lying on the sleep mat, I was covering a chapter in Bill Gifford’s book about how the heart loses its elasticity over time, becoming more brittle, less efficient, and a heart attack time bomb.

ghost heartMy heart, along with the rest of me, is 61 years old, and I know that there’s a lot of me, most of me, all of me, that’s not as flexible and bendable as it used to be.

Food for thought, especially at bed time.

Part of what I read about the sleep mat is that I could use it for as long as I want. Also, when reading in bed, I prop my pillow up and place the mat over it, so I’m sitting up, not lying down.

After I finished the heart attack chapter, I laid the mat flat on the mattress and reclined upon it as best I could with my slowly healing sore back.

I felt myself doze off just as I became aware of my filling bladder (drinking two separate glasses of water for Natural Calm and RelaxMax means having to go to the bathroom a lot).

One “potty break” later, I tossed the mat aside and went back to bed.

I slept for a little less than an hour and woke up. I don’t know why.

The pattern from the previous night repeated as I subsequently fell back asleep two more times, waking up after about an hour on each occasion.

And that was it. By now, my wife was in bed and for some reason, I had another itching attack. I could tell that my incessant scratching was bothering the missus, so I figured I should go sleep, or at least lie down on the sofa in the living room.

On a whim, I took the sleep mat with me. I figured, if it helped me relax once, it could do so again.

The upside was that when my back itched, all I had to do is move around a little on the mat to scratch it. The downside is that, as far as I can tell, I didn’t get another wink of sleep. In fact, because our couch is over 20 years old and soft as a melted marshmallow, shifting my body around to get the mat out from under me was a major chore and actually left scratches on my back.

I may have gotten a little more sleep. It’s tough to tell, but when my cell phone said it was 3:40 a.m., I decided it was time to get up. I was supposed to be up at 4 anyway, and this week, my long-suffering wife has to be up at 4:15 to start getting ready for work.

My back’s still a bit tender, although better than yesterday, so I decided to continue to set aside weightlifting and do another session of cardio at the gym instead.

Photo credit:

I’d recently read a blog post at Straight Talking Fitness called A simple, old school & fun way to build a monster grip!, and the article said in part:

The classic death hang! All you need is a pull-up bar, your hands and maybe some external resistance in the form of a dumbbell or weight belt (depending on your current strength).

Since the forearms, like the abdominals and calves, are primarily slow twitch in nature, thus they’re an endurance muscle group. Endurance muscle groups like those above respond very well to isometric induced tension. Hence, why the dead hang pull-up is a perfect candidate.

If you can’t last at the very least, 60 seconds with your bodyweight, then don’t even contemplate adding weight via a weight belt/dumbbell. Ideally, I’d have you being capable of at least 90 seconds – sometimes even 2 minutes – before you add weight. Once you can comfortably surpass 90 seconds with regularity, add 5 kg and repeat the cycle.

I typically do a hanging exercise at the end of my weightlifting workout, usually 30 to 35 seconds hanging with my shoulders engaged, followed by a 5 to 10 second dead hang. I decided to see if I could hang for a full minute.

Hanging Exercise with Shoulders Engaged

x35 seconds

Dead Hang

x25 seconds

I guess my grip is at least adequate first thing in the morning before any other sort of exercise, but I’ll have to see if I can hang a full minute after lifting really (for me) heavy weights.

Beyond that, I did 35 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, including 5 minutes of all out sprints, 30 seconds max, and 30 seconds moderate speed, as well as a 5 minute cooldown at the afterwards.

body weight squats
Photo credit:

I did practice “squatting” in the bathroom at home just to see how my back felt, and it seemed OK. Of course, I wasn’t supporting any weight beyond my body, but unless something drastic happens between now and the next morning, I’ll likely do some form of modified weightlifting tomorrow, making sure to protect my lower back as much as possible. I sure don’t want to start losing muscle mass because I’m not lifting.

I was pleased that my weight came down just a tad from the previous day:

Body weight upon awakening:

191.3 lbs/ ~86.77 kg/ ~13.66 stone

After my cardio, having sweat out a ton of water, and then experiencing a good “evacuation” from my innards once I got back home, I weighed in at 190 pounds even post-workout. Of course, that went away the second I drank a glass of water, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Night two of my sleep hack was really disappointing. I know two nights isn’t much, but I have to get some sleep. 5 hours here and 3 to 4 hours there won’t cut it. So far, as I write this, I can concentrate, but as the day wears on, my brain is going to degrade. I’ve got a meeting today at one that I need to stay sharp for.

Why can’t I sleep?

Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal: My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Louis Pasteur


5 thoughts on “Night Two of My Sleepless Sleep Hack

  1. Sorry your back is still sore. That’s never a good time. I didn’t look to see what is in your night time supplements but a long time ago my doctor recommended melatonin, which didn’t do a darn thing for me. Then another doctor a couple years later told me it has to be in your system for about 3 hours to do anything 😦 Even though most labels will say use at bedtime or near bedtime….might diminish the need to get up to go to the bathroom too if you take them earlier? Also, have you tried breathing exercises? There are some really great techniques for inducing sleep. I will see if I can find the link I have used . I found them to be useful for middle of the night wake ups. helps me get back to relaxation~ Cheers! Feel better.


    1. Hi Kelly,

      My back’s getting better and I should be able to do some lifting tomorrow morning.

      Both Natural Calm and RelaxMax have a magnesium base that’s supposed to induce melatonin production but knowing I need to take it up to three hours before bedtime is good information to know.

      At least in the beginning, it’s not falling asleep that’s the problem but staying asleep. If I didn’t wake up multiple times during the early evening, I might actually get some rest.

      So far, I don’t really feel tired and my concentration seems fine, but I know I’ll start to drag in the early afternoon.

      If you (or anyone) has any other suggestions, I’m certainly open to them.

      Thanks, again.


  2. Keep up with the dead hangs James! They really have tremendous carry-over to other exercises like you wouldn’t believe! Having a ‘pre-fatigued’ grip will definitely slash your potential numbers, but if you consistently perform your hangs in the latter stages of your workout, just keep working that 25 seconds up. You’ll get there. I’d be really interested to see your progress with them, particularly as I knew you were a fan of those before I even wrote about them 🙂


    1. Thanks. I did the same thing this morning: 35 seconds hang with shoulders engaged and 25 seconds at dead hang, all for a total of one minute. Murder on the delts, biceps, and forearms, especially at the end of a 45 minute workout.


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