Thursday, September 27, 2007

Going Cold Turkey

Lately, I have embarked on an experiment of sorts. This semester, I am teaching a Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Since my first class begins at 8 a.m., I try to arrive on campus no later than 7:30 a.m. That means I get up around 6 a.m. (I know that is not all that early, but you need to understand that I am basically more of a late night person.)

I have had some trouble hitting my stride this semester, getting into the routine of going to bed on time to be able to bounce out of bed early. My recalcitrance in heading to bed has been exacerbated by recurring insomnia. Once I get to bed, and finally turn out the lights, I simply don’t go to sleep. Some nights, even with my eyes shut, I have vivid images flashing with full color. It is rather like watching one of those compressed images videos, where photographs flash by with just a brief moment for you to recognize what you are seeing.

There have been nights when I would glance at the clock, and see the time slip from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. and even later, before I finally fall asleep. I am not attempting to garner your sympathy. For, you see, I think I have solved my problem.

No hot bath before bedtime for me, no warmed milk. No sleeping pills, nor even a dose of Benadryl (which is what my doctor suggested when I declined her offer to write a prescription).

I have gone cold turkey—no caffeinated coffee in the evening. You have no idea how painful this decision has been. Not because of my experiencing any withdrawal, but from sheer enjoyment of drinking coffee. This particular trait is one I believe I inherited from my mother (as did my sister—not sure about my brother. . .). One of my dearest memories is of sharing a cup of coffee with my mother.

And the outcome of this momentous decision? For the last several nights, I have gone to sleep like a “normal” person, sans flashing images, and grinning clocks.

The things I give up to teach!

14 comments:

mon@rch said...

I have the same problem trying to get to bed at night! But my problem is not caffein its blogging! But, I can promise you that I couldn't go cold turkey blogging! Which reminds me, its 11:15 and I have no comments in my RSS Feed! I should try to get to bed early tonight!

ocean and forest walks said...

Hi Donna and Hi Mon@rch above (I am a shy fan of hers blush blush) -- anyhow I clicked on to say Donna why not try a nice cup of herbal sleepy tea - I do that and fall fast asleep if I can get away from the computer. Also there is a little chewable health pill with a vitamin in it that puts one right to sleep with no addictive problems. You can email for the name of it if need be. I like the post you did and must reread it now as I tend to rush. I hope this teaching business of yours will not cut into your blogging time thats for sure!!

Anvilcloud said...

My recalcitrance in heading to bed has been exacerbated ...

Two of my favourite words.

Elaine said...

I'm thinking this change in sleeping patterns is an age (groan!) thing. I tried no Diet Coke in the evenings and that helped immensely--caffeine, too. Now I have eliminated the pleasurable sensation of Diet Coke bubbles almost completely and have noticed many more significant improvements in my physiology. (Don't want to go into the gory details.) Could it be that what we eat/drink is really important?
Live and learn, eh?

Denise said...

I figured out, awhile back, that I needed to cut out caffeine by mid-afternoon if I wanted to get to sleep without hassles. It was not a choice I wanted to make, but a necessary one none-the-less. I have been learning to really enjoy green teas (caffeine free, of course) and, my new favorite, Rooibos tea. I have several different flavors that are wonderful! But, coffee is still hard to beat...

Climenheise said...

You don't know if your brother shares your love for coffee? When I provide my classes with a pot of coffee available during class? When I grind our own beans, using fair trade coffee from Ten Thousand Villages? That reminds me, I have to go get a cup of coffee.

possumlady said...

I've been a Diet Coke fan since it came out in 1982 and before that Tab!! I have always had problems falling asleep. When my doctor told me I was slightly anemic and that caffeine can leach iron out of the body, I switched to Caffeine-free Diet Coke. Yes, I had headaches in the morning for a while but they went away. The most important improvement, though was being able to fall asleep in 15-20 minutes, whereas before it was at least an hour to an hour and a half to fall asleep.

Can you not stomach decaf coffee?

Jean said...

When I worked, it was agony to sleep 10pm til 2am and then awake til 4 knowing I had to be up at 5:30am. Glad you got to the "root of the evil":)

Climenheise said...

AC said that your sentence "My recalcitrance in heading to bed has been exacerbated" contained two of his favourite words. Me too: "My bed."

Mary said...

Donna, two years ago I gave up coffee because I had ankle surgery. No one would make the coffee for me, so after 8 weeks on crutches I didn't miss it.

I used to drink a gallon of iced tea each day, too. After a few years of having the same problem you described, I stopped drinking iced tea after 4pm. Slept like a baby.

Gave up the iced tea, too!

I love nodding off before my head hits the pillow! The 5:20 a.m. alarm is a very rude awakening!

Like Monarch, my problem now isn't caffeine, it's blogging too late in the evenings.

cat59 said...

Like Possumlady, I am curious about the fact that decaf coffee didn't seem to surface as a viable alternative. I like the flavor of coffee (with a lot of milk), but am not a habitual coffee drinker. However, my theory is that, other than the lack of caffeine jolt, that anyone who is served a good cup of decaf today in a blind taste test would not know the difference. I guess there is the possibility that I am wrong!

KGMom said...

To all-the various ideas, such as herbal tea or vitamins, are most interesting.
For those of you who wondered why I don't try decaf coffee, that is exactly what I am doing. I have always ground our own coffee beans (ahem--Daryl, forgive my forgetting you do the same--in fact, I gave you some beans from Zimbabwe one time, if memory serves) and I mix them 1/2 caffeine, 1/2 decaf. In the evenings, I do have that cup of coffee, but all decaf now.
And, so far, it is working.
And--to AC and Daryl who like my vocab choice--AC didn't say which words were his favorites; Daryl claimed MY and BED--there's a bit of a joke there.
My daughter noted that in a particularly dense essay she is reading in her master's program she found 6 or 7 words that she knew, or needed to confirm. So I am now working them in (without having told her) my blogging. Recalcitrance was the first.
The second is in my blog on The Art of Giving.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Donna, that insomnia is a bad deal! Good luck in your caffeine withdrawal.

Mo said...

I was going to suggest decaff - you get some really good brands on the market now that are just as tasty as the real thing. But I see you're already trying it! 6 am sounds incredibly early to me.