I’ve been running from house to house at the speed of snore helping elevate the heads and lives of the good citizens of Lake Norman.
These days, the Tyrano-snore-us Rex, king of the dino-snores, is out there gaining strength. But while I wait for the next snore signal, I have a moment to tell you about how I recently defeated the Caffeine Chameleon!
With the guidance of my favorite sleep sources, I learned the true nature of the Caffeine Chameleon. He takes on many forms and sneakily saps your sleep cycles one by one. He appeared to me as a delicious cup of coffee!
With his caffeine camo, I drank too much coffee on a daily basis and I didn’t know it. After I became aware, I set my sleep schedule and attempted to form a new habit. A morning routine, coffee-free! Take that Caffeine Chameleon!!
It wasn’t easy though. Throughout the process, I did a little grieving for the habit that once held me. My family and my coworkers enjoyed their morning cups around me. The smell brought on cravings, but thanks to being well-rested, my personal fortitude was stronger than some silly urge.
Plus, I gave up coffee for Lent. The Big Buy upstairs was holding me accountable and I didn’t want to let him down! According to my Google Mini, Lent ended on April 1st, so on April 3rd, I woke my wife at the crack of dawn for coffee!
Being the wife of a sleep superhero has its challenges and on this Saturday, and I was one of them. But she’s a good sport and all roads lead to a delicious cup of coffee so she struggled out of bed and accompanied me to our favorite spot.
Lo and behold, my first cup of coffee was underwhelming and overwhelming all the same time. The underwhelming part of it was the flavor was not as I remember it. Not exactly.
Maybe in a few weeks after another cup or two, I’ll know whether or not I got a bad batch of coffee. Or perhaps just the memories of how good it was are exactly what they are, memories. My palate has changed since all I’ve had is tea with no sweetener or dairy. A customer of mine sent me some jasmine petals and it’s phenomenal. I enjoy that every morning instead!
The overwhelming part was how caffeine gripped my system for the next few hours. Holy smokes. On that first day, I remembered exactly why I wanted to stop in the first place.
You see, I can go from zero to “we’re going to win” on a normal day with no caffeine in as quickly as I just did. No problemo. It’s one of my superpowers! High bursts of energy and voice volume.
And with a great night’s sleep I can harness that power and usually keep it in check. Add a cup of coffee to that superpower, throw in a busy showroom with customers asking questions a mile a minute, supply chain issues to wade through at 101 mph, and it’s too much.
I don’t have the emotional control to keep as cool as a Tempur-Pedic Breeze bed wrapped in bamboo sheets in a perfectly maintained 68-degree bedroom on a hot summer night.
About halfway through my caffeine habit-breaking, I figured out the game. The Caffeine Chameleon was stealing my time and energy. The more caffeine I drank, the more tired I got. It is a downward spiral of dependency. Not an easy trap to free myself from at all.
I figured out if I set my bedtime for 9:30 p.m. but I don’t fall asleep until 9:40 p.m., I am officially losing one whole sleep cycle a night. Unless I wake up 10 minutes later every day.
I thought I was losing 10 minutes but it actually cost me 20. Ten from today and 10 from tomorrow. I dropped from my potential 35 cycles a week to 28. And let’s be honest, I never get 35. I’ll always wake up once. Occasionally I have a really good night. But no entire week has ever been perfect.
Have you ever had a night where you look at the clock and think, “Shoot, I’ve been laying here for that long and I’m still awake?” Double it. Yeah, you just got robbed.
One story I’ll share is my closest moment of pure sleep maximization I’ve experienced yet. This was both a result of no caffeine, my sleep mask, and my scheduled bedtime combined.
One night I went to bed and took one of our three dogs with me. My wife hit the bottom of the stairs as I hopped in bed and put my sleep mask on. She hadn’t reached the top stair before I was fast asleep. She brought two more dogs with her and I never stirred in the slightest. Lights were on for a minute or two even. The boys usually walk around a bit to get comfy. I was out!
And for the record, if you drink one too many tequila shots and pass out, you’re not falling asleep quickly or sleeping at all. You are in stasis and… that is really a whole other episode. The short version is that it doesn’t count!
I love the way Matthew Walker illustrates how we rationalize taking 20 minutes to fall asleep in his Master Class, “The Science of Sleep.”
Do you show up to the dinner table and wait 20 minutes to get hungry? And I’m thinking no way José. I will NOT let my fries get cold! And I also think of this in a very American way.
Do you prefer to sit in 20 minutes of traffic before you get to your destination? And if everything took us an extra 20 minutes to do, we wouldn’t have time to get anything done!
So if falling asleep takes, say, 10 minutes a night, not only is the Chameleon stealing 10 minutes from one day, he takes 10 from the next, or he gets your sleep cycle!
And who can really keep up with changing their wake-up time like that? You don’t. Instead, I beat him by not consuming caffeine and I keep him at bay by following an 8 a.m. caffeine curfew.
I realize to some people 8 a.m. sounds ridiculous. Did you just chortle? Don’t let that coffee come out your nose now. You have to wear those pants all day!
But instead of looking at the curfew as a limit, look at it as an opportunity. I asked some of my friends what they would do if they had 20 minutes a day to do whatever they wanted. Here’s what they said:
– I would read comics and fiction ~ Regis
– I would learn how to fly a helicopter ~ Zach
– I would hang out in my Ryder chair and enjoy Sweet Dreams Facebook videos ~ Kurt
– I would without a doubt take a nap! ~ Kieth
– Play with my daughter, Demy ~ Jimmy
– Breathe fresh air. Meditate ~ Chris
– Work on projects making stuff out of scrap wood and metal ~ Jeff
– Read more to feed the brain ~ Casey
– Get some exercise in during the day ~ Katy
– Doing chores and cleaning the house ~ Greg
Me personally? Well, I’ve been spending that 20 minutes in my morning routine SMASHING MONSTERS FOR LOOT! It’s part of my wake-up routine.
Yes, playing video games can be a part of a wake-up routine. Hey, you know what? I’ll explain that in more detail in another episode. Perhaps when I say wake up routine I am being too vague. We can open up that proverbial pillow and look at the nitty-gritty in a future episode.
I’ve defeated the Caffeine Chameleon and banished him from my daily habits and my prize is more time to do things I want to do.
Bad habits are sometimes hard to see. Keep a lookout in your own life for the Caffeine Chameleon. He’s done with me which means he may be moving onto you next!
I know he’s out there because I see him everywhere. Fight from a foundation of sleep and you can maximize your own bedtime routine and awaken superpowers of your own!
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