Life Hacking

Solving My Sleep Problem

Gallup Journey BonacciBy Marty Bonacci

It was 6 am and my phone was singing that all too familiar nauseating Verizon alarm tone . . . But I didn’t need it. I had been awake for hours . . . many hours. To be honest, I probably only slept 2 hours that night.  This had become a pattern.  Night after night after night.  There’s only one thing for me to do at a time like this. It’s clearly time for my next hack!

I’m a hacker, but not the kind of hacker that figures out how to get into Target’s network to steal credit card numbers. I’m a life hacker.  I figure out other things . . . like making snowboards and bringing VWs back to life, and it was time to hack how to fix my sleep problems.

“Hacker” may be a new label, but hacking has been around since the beginning of history. My favorite hacker was Thomas Edison.  He invented many important gadgets, but the one that he is best known for is the light bulb.

He had a hunch that he could create a bright light source that didn’t have an open flame, but he didn’t know how to do it.  He tried thousands of different ways to make a light bulb before he finally made one that worked.

Thomas Edison hacked the light bulb in the following way:

  1. He had something that he wanted to do that there was no clear road map for doing.
  2. He researched his idea.
  3. He tried different ways of doing his idea until he found one that worked.

I had hacked many other things in my life.  Unfortunately every hack came with trial and error and many failures . . . some costly, some embarrassing, but most of my hacks eventually resulted in successes.

At this point I had a strong passion about fixing my sleep patterns.  It had gotten real bad.  I only slept 2 to 4 hours a night most of the time. I didn’t even remember dreaming anymore.  It was affecting my performance in all areas of my life.

Even though I was driven to fix my sleep patterns, it took a long time to figure out what the issues were.  There was a lot of trial and error. The weird thing about hacking is that you may feel like you are making no progress for a long time, then all of a sudden you have a huge breakthrough.

This makes me think about how Thomas Edison must have felt after trying thousands of ways to make the light bulb, thousands of failures, then miraculously one worked. It must have felt like it was sudden success . . . sudden success from out of the agony of thousands of failures

That’s how it felt after months of trying different foods, meditation, thought patterns, exercise, vitamins and even new age colored light contraptions . . . All to get a good night sleep.

Then all of a sudden some of the things I tried worked. After a couple of years of not sleeping well, one night I slept through the night like a baby! Not only did I sleep through the night, but I could remember my dreams too. I felt like I had just invented the light bulb!

First let’s look at my big failures:

  1. I was taking vitamin B in the evening. B vitamin helps our bodies turn food into energy. More energy at bedtime keeps us awake.
  2. I wasn’t spending enough time outside in the sun.  Without sunlight our bodies won’t produce vitamin D.  Without vitamin D during the day our brain doesn’t know that it’s time to be awake.  If our brain doesn’t know when it’s time to be awake, it also won’t know when it’s time to be asleep.
  3. Lastly, I wasn’t feeding my brain what it needed for fuel while sleeping. Our brains run on fat (omega-3 fatty acids) and sugar. At the time I was trying to gain muscle and loose fat so I was cutting fat and sugar out of my diet. My brain wasn’t getting what it needed to do its thing while I was sleeping.

The solution seemed too simple, too easy, but it worked beautifully.  I’ll lay it out for you.

You will have to do your own experimenting to determine how much vitamin D you need. If you don’t get any sunlight you will need to take about 1000 IUs per 25 pounds of body weight of vitamin D IN THE MORNING.  You can potentially get enough sunlight so you don’t need to take any vitamin D, but it’s unlikely given that most of us work or go to school inside, under florescent lights all day. Don’t take multi-vitamins, vitamin D or vitamin B in the evening.

Here’s where it gets a little unorthodox.

I heat up 2 tablespoons of butter from grass-fed cows with half a cup of milk, also from grass-fed cows, and a heaping spoonful of raw local honey right before bed. You’ll want to mix it between every drink because it separates.

Grass-fed butter (unlike conventional butter) is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which our brains use while we are asleep.  Grass-fed milk can be bought in town at the La Montañita Co-op, but grass-fed butter, I am forced to buy in Albuquerque . . . at Costco of all places.

Raw honey contains the sugar that our brains run on.  I prefer raw local honey for the anti-allergy effects.  Raw local honey comes from bees that get nectar from local flowers, the flowers from the plants that many of us are allergic to.  It has a natural effect of sometimes inoculating us against those potential allergies.

I originally used the milk from grass-fed cows as something to mix the butter with to get it down.  It was part of my first successful experiment, which worked so well that I keep using it.  I didn’t research this part, but I think the milk may release tryptophan and melatonin (both help us sleep) when warmed, but I’m not sure.  That’s the thing about hacking, when you find something that works, you are less concerned about why it works than you are thrilled that you found a solution

This hack was one of the most life-improving hacks I have done. It has improved my energy level, my alertness and even made me better looking (no more dark circles under my eyes).

I am not a doctor, nor a nutritionist, nor an engineer, nor a mechanic.  I am a hacker.  I read things on the internet and tried them until I got the results I wanted.   I hope my sleep hacks are helpful.  I know a few of my friends have had great results, but everybody is unique.  Perhaps this hack will be helpful to you?

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