I stayed away from the computer monitor after a certain point and spent plenty of time reading before getting ready for bed. I even drank a small glass of water with just a pinch of kosher sea salt as recommended here so I wouldn’t wake up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
As I was reading, I reclined on the sleep induction mat and then laid down on the mat and started to doze.
But that didn’t last long. I woke up after an hour, then tried to go back to sleep. My wife had come to bed and was snoring and I was getting the beginning of my “itches,” so I went out on the living room sofa.
Then my daughter decided to get up at 10:30 p.m. to get a glass of water or something, then use the bathroom, requiring her to turn on several lights in the hall and kitchen.
My wife also got up for a few minutes and walked down the hall for some reason. I was beginning to decide that I’d simply never sleep again.
At some point I must have dozed but I seriously doubt I got more than an hour of sleep at a time and often somewhat less.
This was a lot worse than the previous night, and by yesterday afternoon, I was a total zombie. I can only imagine what I’ll be like today.
I finally got up a little before 3 a.m. and did my usual wake up routine. I was pleasantly surprised that I’d dropped a bit of bodyweight (see below) and I hope this will be a trend (as long as it’s just fat).
The minutes crawled past until it was time to leave for the gym. I was a couple of minutes early but got out of the car to wait in front of the doors. I was the first one in since most of the regulars were absent, and for a few minutes, had the weight room to myself as I approached the squat rack.
I seemed to be fine resting an average of 120 seconds and performed pretty well, given my level of fatigue. Here’s what happened.
Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack
4x 210lbs/95.2544kg (Bonus)
Barbell Bench Press
4x 170lbs/77.1107kg (Bonus)
Barbell Bent Over Row
4x 170lbs/77.1107kg (Bonus)
Weighted Cable Triceps Ext w/Rope Attachment
Pull ups (Bodyweight)
Body Hang w/Shoulders Engaged (Bodyweight)
Dead Hang (Bodyweight)
Barbell Zercher Squats in Squat Rack (Bonus)
Bodyweight Upon Awakening
190.5 lbs / 86.409346 kg / 13.607143 stone
Since next week’s 4 rep per set week has my working weight for squats at 210 pounds, I thought that after my usual routine, I should make that weight my bonus set. I successfully did 4 very heavy (for me) reps and considered doing 5, but figured I shouldn’t push it.
I did the same for my bench press and bent over rows, since next week’s working weight will be 170 pounds for each exercise. Happily, I knocked out 4 reps per bonus set, but I was a bit distracted, since I’m always worried someone will get to the one cable pulley station I can use for triceps extensions before I can.
Due to there being just 2 or 3 guys in the weight room, that didn’t happen, so I commandeered it for my own use when I was ready.
Looking back at last week, my second working set had me doing 6 reps for triceps extensions, but today I only did 5 for that last set. Maybe that was an indication of how tired I really was (and am).
Nevertheless, my pull ups seemed strong for all 3 sets, but I could only dead hang for 25 seconds after an engaged hang of 35 seconds. My grip just gave out on me.
I had just a few minutes left in the gym once my hanging exercises were done, so I thought I’d try some zercher squats. Doing 6 reps for my first set at 160 pounds had me sweating and panting, but I thought I could still go heavier. I set the weight at 185 pounds and did another 6 reps.
I did well and got low in the squat, but that was it. I was out of time and pretty much out of energy, but I didn’t realize just how tired I was until I got home and took a shower.
Yeah, I’d kill for a nap, but I doubt I could actually sleep well.
Last night, I tried something new. I used an online app called sleepyti.me to calculate when I should start falling asleep if I wanted to wake up by 4 a.m.
The idea is that you input the time you want to wake up and then click the “calculate” button. That gives you a series of times when you should attempt to fall asleep. In this case, the times are 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10 p.m., or 11:30 p.m.
According to the little “blurb” on the results page:
sleepyti.me works by counting backwards in sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles wakes you up feeling refreshed and alert!
It goes on to say that you should actually be falling asleep at the times indicated, not going to bed then. Supposedly, it takes the average person about 14 minutes to fall asleep, so ideally, if I wanted to hit the 8:30 p.m. mark, I’d need to settle down in bed by 8:16 p.m.
Yeah, right. Sometimes it takes me up to 90 minutes to fall asleep. I can never predict it.
About the only thing in my “hack” that seemed to work was the pinch of salt in water trick. That seemed to delay the time when I needed to use the bathroom.
Other than that, nada.
I decided to approach this problem from the direction of itching when trying to sleep rather than just not being able to relax. As it turns out, this is a very common problem.
The most informative online article I found was a professional paper at medicaljournals.se, and it concludes that this particular problem is not only very common, but could be caused by a wide variety of physical and emotional factors.
The underlying mechanisms responsible for nocturnal pruritus are unclear. One possible explanation may be related to the circadian rhythms related to skin temperature and trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). It has been shown that TEWL is significantly increased during the night and is minimal during the morning (17). The higher TEWL in the evening suggests that the epidermal barrier function is not optimal at this time, possibly facilitating the entry of irritants and itch-causing agents.
Treatment options run the gambit from moisturizers to sedatives to antidepressants.
Suggestions ranged from using magnesium (which I already do), to various types of skin lotion such as coco butter, taking Claritin (which supposedly works better than Benadryl), and even applying the Publix brand of Listerine (gold color only).
Other recommendations are Apple Cider Vinegar, Neosporin Eczema Essentials, Nyacin, Pepperment and Lemongrass Essential Oils, hot showers, and wearing pajamas.
Since anxiety and stress can aggravate or even cause these symptoms, I’d think some sort of relaxation or meditation routine might help, but who knows?
Something had better work soon.
Think less of what the future will bring us and more of what we can bring to the future.
–Rabbi Shraga Silverstein