2019-02-08 / Commentary

Sleeping my health away

40–Something

I’ve made two decisions recently: to exercise and to give up my second dose of caffeine during the day. Unfortunately, these two things aren’t exactly simpatico.

I don’t exercise in the morning because I like it. Believe me, I’d much rather be cozied up in bed than braving freezing cold air, weary commuters, and the occasional overly protective dog just to get a jog in before my day actually begins. I exercise in the morning because if I don’t, then I won’t exercise at all.

Something always gets in the way of exercise in the afternoon...work, family commitments, or an overwhelming desire to kick off my shoes, lay on the couch, and binge-watch “Impractical Jokers.” My affinity for x-large pepperoni, sausage, and mushroom pizzas would not go well with such a schedule.

So, I force myself out of bed in the morning, pull on my man tights and various other winter running gear, and head out for a jog. This gets the most painful part of my day over with, allows me to sit at a computer for hours at a time, and eliminates the guilt associated with a face full of cheese and extra toppings.

I have been doing this regimen for a few years, so as hard as it is some days, I trudge through, but now I’ve thrown in that other caveat...no second dose of caffeine.

Why on earth would I do that?

As much as I enjoyed that second Diet Dr. Pepper every day around lunchtime, the consequences of such actions were outweighing the benefits.... Or at least, I thought they were.

That second dose gave me the energy to get through the day, which is a positive, but it also kept me up at night.

I’d love to be one of those workaholic geniuses who requires four hours or less of sleep a night, but that’s just not me. I need sleep—and lots of it. It’s a genetic requirement.

My mother used to go to bed before primetime TV got going every night, and if the back of my dad’s head hit any soft service—i.e. couch, La-Z-Boy recliner, etc.—he was snoring in a matter of seconds. While this genetic sleep curse does seem to relent a bit with each new generation, I’m not far enough removed that I can get away without significant amounts of snoozing.

Which brings us back to that second Dr. Pepper. While I did get a nice jolt from it, by bedtime, I was usually ready to hit the hay. The problem was once I got in bed, I couldn’t sleep—no matter how tired I felt. It was the worst of all worlds.

In the off chance I did manage to doze off, my bladder would wake me up over and over again. I’m convinced Dr. Pepper has some magical power that turns a 16.9-ounce bottle of the stuff into the equivalent of a city water tank during the wee hours of the night.

So, I gave it up.

The good news is that since I quit drinking that extra DP, I’m no longer wearing out a path to my bathroom every night, and I’m sleeping like a 15-year-old hound dog after a long walk. The bad news is now all I want to do is sleep. I actually caught myself dreaming on one of my morning runs. Sleep running might be cool if it didn’t come with the distinct possibility of jogging off a cliff or onto the hood of an oncoming minivan.

Exercise and caffeine deprivation are not a good combination for me. I’ve never lived such a healthy lifestyle, but unfortunately, I’m just too darn sleepy to enjoy it.

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