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Reclaim Your Sleep, Reclaim Your Life



My entire life I have been an outrageously terrible sleeper. Insomnia has been a lifelong struggle. Around the age of 3 or 4 years old, which is when I became aware I was not sleeping. I can also recall having panic attacks at that same time as well. So basically, as soon as I became cognizantly aware as a child, a lot was going on internally for me both in my mind and my body.

I feel like it's an understatement to say that sleep is a tremendously important part of life. Even though we all seem to know that sleep does indeed reset our ability to be focused, alert, and emotionally stable in our wakeful life. Somehow both I, as well as it seems to be a lot of people, do not take sleep seriously. Can I argue to posit that we do not take life seriously? I apparently was not.


I became a professional blamer and complainer in my late twenties. I was very good at complaining about how rough mornings were and how sleep is not a part of my life. I would be tired all day (except at bedtime, of course) and lacked motivation to even do the things that I loved. I could barely focus on words being said and my memory was frightening terrible. I did a great job finding things in my external realm to point my finger at. Whether it was “oh well that Netflix show ended up being longer than I thought” or “oh that last cup of coffee really got me today” somehow I would point at Netflix or that cup of coffee rather than at my self. After all, I chose to continue to watch the screen and I chose to make as well as drink a later day cup of coffee. The only direction the finger should veer pint is at the self.


Obviously when I was a kid, I didn't have much control over life.

As a kid you're just following the path that you're given and you're trying to make it the best that you can. So when I was a kid, I couldn't really implement any protocols or practices to help my sleep. It’s unfortunate I saw life this way and it's unfortunate I did not have an adult in my life that cared that I wasn't sleeping. My sleeplessness was something I very much made known and you could see it in my day-to-day child life, too. My mom would even say to me when I was even a young child, “you're just so stressed out Breezi, you're just so used to operating off of being stressed. you look so tired.”

If anything, she made it worse. My childhood was very traumatic and chaotic. I was very unsupported, very alone.


What I know now could have really helped my child self out with sleeping better.


As an adult, I have become the driver of my own vessel, taking the wheel and making my own decisions. I made the choice, after years of struggling even as a young adult, to turn down the lane that is a healthier sleep habit or routine or ritual (whatever you want to call it). I did not want to continue to just suffer and struggle and not show up as a better version of my self. I did not do a good job showing up for my self and others. Sure, I’m a rock solid friend and the most trustworthy but..

My emotional regulation was zilch to none during the many years of me not sleeping. I was a B word and it isn't Breezi. So many episodes to come on this!


I was barely sleeping 3 to 4 hours a night. My entire life. I am now 33 years old. I finally started to sleep regularly at the age of 32. I fixed my sleep.

I can fall asleep as well as stay asleep nowadays.

It is not perfect, but it is quality sleep in comparison to my lifetime of Not prior.


Before moving into the realm of control that is adulthood, I am going to shed some light on how I could have done just a bit better even as a child. I believe it's important that I show how much my decisions as a child, or how much my mom not stepping in and helping me make better decisions as a child, truly and negatively impacted my sleep.

1 of the major factors of sleep is this molecule called adenosine. I don't blame you if you were expecting me to say dopamine - we talk everyday about how dopamine runs the show.

What happens is adenosine builds up more and more as we are awake and it creates the hunger for sleep. So, however long we have been awake is important because this molecule adenosine is going to build up in conjunction with how long we are awake and therefore, we will then be more sleepy.


If we were only awake for 2 hours, then we're not going to be very sleepy, right?


Sleepiness needs to build up. In a bit I will mention how light exposure can super screw up our sleepiness and readiness to be tried for bed.

Caffeine is a blocker to adenosine. Though I wasn't drinking caffeine as a kid, which we will cover in a different episode of struggle to success, I was still deeply impacting how much adenosine I was building up.

Okay, so we have learned that adenosine is 1 of the major factors of sleep. Well, 1 of the main things that adenosine receptors operate off of is how much light we are getting.


We can now state the following: how much light we get everyday directly impacts our sleep.


You better believe we will cover circadian rhythm and hacking that 24 hour cycle in other episodes. For today, we are talking light, the adenosine molecule, and good ole’ dopamine.

A major thing that a lot of us are mistakenly doing is we're not getting sufficient sunlight in the early parts of the day. Sunlight is key for establishing healthy sleep as well as wakeful rhythms. Appropriate light exposure helps us fall asleep easier at night. Sunlight is literally the foundation to proper sleep and circadian health.


Alright, so my circadian rhythm was screwed up. Therefore, my adenosine levels were screwed up and I was not sleeping. One of the huge things that I should have been doing as a kid, even though I grew up in gray overcast northern Wisconsin, was to go outside in the morning. I didn't have a lot of control but I had the choice to go outside, or at least near a window. Even with overcast skies, I now know I could get the sunlight I needed. I will say, direct sunlight truly feels better for me. That's my seasonal affect talking.


To be clear, you don’t need brilliant and direct light all day everyday to sleep normally.


Even though I wasn't getting fed breakfast and nothing was going on in the house, it was just a whole bunch of me and just my sisters being alone, I should have gone outside.But instead, I would just watch TV or hop up on the dial-up computer. And get this, I fell asleep with a tv on at night too. I was constantly surrounded by lights from screens. Nowadays we call this screen time. I apparently was feeding my self a lot of it as a kid.


Nowadays we have multiple streaming services and can scroll on our phones all day to night, and through the night. That screen time is also immensely and negatively impacting sleep. Screen-time and light will be super covered in a different episode of from struggle to success.

So even though I didn't have a lot of control as a kid, I had enough to at least get a little sunlight. I also could have at any point turned off the tv at night or not turned on the tv during the day. With all this being said, it is indeed easier said than done.


Why?

We we will cover in many episodes to come, I was afraid to close my eyes at night. The darkness brought extreme fear into my body. I would be fearful of leaving my room or get off my bed to use the restroom.

During the long days of caring for my self, I used tv to not only pass the time but to assist with emotional support, entertainment, and education.


Though I apparently had choices, there was a lot going on inside me.

I understand why a lot of people struggle and suffer when they do not want to because issues live way deeper inside us than what we are and are not doing on the surface.


Not sleeping is a big deal. Because I was not sleeping well, I could be a crabby kid. With this being said, a majority of my emotional issues had to do with what was going on inside the home and my poor attachment to my mother. These experiences growing up also negatively impacted my ability to sleep.

If we are not getting good sleep, our mood is absolutely impacted. It is not magic. It is science. When we fix our sleep we begin to further repair our anxiety, ability to learn, problems or issues, focus, and our capacity to feel okay everyday.


I could talk for hours about the real life difficulties of fixing sleep as an adult. Smoking pot at night and in the morning. Scrolling and doing late night computer work. Staying up late, just because. Watching late night screen junk. Eating all the everything's before bed. Using sunlight blocking curtains for the morning. The list of habits that did not support a happy or healthy life can go on for a while.


Now that I am in my thirties and sleeping healthy, what did I do to reclaim my sleep?

It sure wasn’t any of the aforementioned.


In regards to todays episode and highlighting neuroscience mechanisms, here's what I did to my sleep ritual:


  • No screen time of any sort between the times of 8pm and 8am

  • Low to now light from 10pm to 5am

  • Absolutely NO screen time from 10pm to 6am. And to be factual and clear, no human should have any screen time from 10pm to 4am unless you indeed want to alter your circadian rhythm..which means your hormone levels are likely altered, too.

  • I gave up caffeine years ago thanks to my anxiety, but nowadays I consume kratom to immensely help my anxiety and depression. I am sure to not drink any after 2pm. Kratom is legal except in 5 states. Kava is mighty beneficial notably in the evening, too.

  • No more late night computer work. Though I used to feel revved up and could even leverage my dopamine to work all night after a full day of work, I now understand that cortisol peak in the evening is not meant for me to use to stay awake. Furthermore, I have now leveraged my dopamine as so I feel like a junk human being when I fall off my nightly healthy sleep ritual.


If I want to be in a good mood, if I want better mental health, if I want to be better at learning and focusing, if I want better metabolism, then it is important that I take control of my light exposure. Controlling light and my exposure behavior at night is very important to my mind and body everyday.

One last thing I want to mention. When we choose to be exposed to light such as phone screen light from 10 to 4am that choice of ours directly suppress our neuromodulator that releases dopamine. If you’re not new here, then you know that dopamine runs the show. It is like we are controlled by dopamine.


So not only does dopamine affect our mood but dopamine is going to affect how we learn, if we have any sort of motivation throughout each day, and it can create all sorts of detrimental effects in our body and mind. If we are screwing with our circadian rhythm and getting too much light at night, then we are screwing with our dopamine.

Dopamine is not something I would screw with.

I have learned to make dopamine work for me, or else it will absolutely work against me.

And, yeah, it’s dopamine that will help you make whatever choices it is you have decided you want to make in life.


Choose wisely. Choose a solid and healthy sleep ritual.

Whatever you truly choose will be backed by dopamine. In my words, this means you will feel supported from the inside, out.


I feel energize and aware every morning as soon as I wake up because of the sleep ritual choices I consistently make every day and night. Commit to your self. Commit to your sleep.

All the best today!


YOU GOT THIS


- Breezi

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