late night insomnia

As you know from my previous posts I have horrible insomnia. So I told my doctor during a physical about this, and that I want to get a sleep study done. She sent me over to a sleep institute where I met with an MD who did an initial screening. As part of that conversation he referred me to a Behavior Psychologist who is an expert in insomnia, and uses evidence based techniques to help solve my insomnia problem.

For a two week period I’ve had to go to bed at 2:30 am and get up at 8 am with no naps in between. Brutal. But, as he explained, based on my current sleep pattern I’m only getting 4.5 hours of sleep to begin with, and my sleep cycles are all messed up and that naps are not my friend when it comes to sleep.

The whole point of what he has me doing is re-training my body so that it craves sleep when I hit the bed, and not before. And to help my mind become calm when it comes time to sleep rather than sit and spin. Now, I might note that the MD mentioned that if I have sleep apnea, then that becomes the big dog in the room and overrides all else I’m doing. And that if I wake up from apnea my body kicks out adrenaline, which makes it harder to fall back asleep.

But in a nutshell what the sleep specialist is working on for me is to reset my Circadian Sleep Cycle. This is the cycle that my body follows when following asleep. And we are working on all those extraneous factors that affect sleep too. Is my room dark or does light get in? Caffeine intake? When do I exercise? Exercise, btw, is good for sleep, but bad if I exercise too close to getting to bed. Anxieties? How are my anxieties? We are doing a number of things to get those reduced and non-existent during the hour before I head to bed, from taking a shower to writing a journal. And I can’t have any intense conversations in that hour of power either.

But the problem I run into staying up until 2:30 am is that the whole world has gone to sleep and there isn’t much to do. Like the lyrics in the song, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas,
“When all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, Not even a mouse.” So I watch TV. And watch TV. And watch TV. Boring, I know, but a transformation takes place after the news ends at 10:30 am.

First there are the traditional late night talk shows like Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert. I channel flip between them. Then comes the late late talk shows. Seth Meyers and James Corden. I channel flip between them too, but lately I’ve been warming up to James Corden more. At first I was like, meh, bit he is witty and funny and so I stay tuned in to him more.

After this round of late night television, which takes me to 12:30 am, then comes a repeat of local news broadcasts and Dr. Oz. I channel flip here too, but I do like Dr. Oz. I recently saw the Squatty Potty for sale at Ace Hardware down the block from where I live. Squatty Potty, of course, made it’s debut on Shark Tank. I poohed poohed the idea of it as a mere novelty. But Dr. Oz did a segment on the Squatty Potty and explained the medical benefits of using it. Our colon has a bend in it near the end of it and that’s why we don’t pooped standing up, because the pathway out of our body is kinked and the pooped can’t glide right out. However, this is a detriment when we are pooping, we don’t want that kink, we want a colon that is straight and aligned so the poop can come out with ease. Fine, you’ve got me, this is a little gross. Anyways, with the Squatty Potty our colon straightens out and the poop comes out that much easier.

I also learned from Dr. Oz, which I had heard the week before from a co-worker, is that the same portion of our brain reacts to sugar the same way as for cocaine. It’s that part of the brain that triggers when we have an addiction, and to the brain cocaine and sugar are synonymous with each other. They are both an addiction the brain craves. Interesting. So much to learn from Dr. Oz.

When Dr. Oz ends it’s now around 1 am. And now come the infomercials. Perhaps the most interesting part of my late night experience. I don’t ever buy anything from those late night infomercials, but they are interesting, and tempting. Let’s see, there is Cize™, The End Of Exercize™. Then comes The NutriBullet Extractor, a food nutrient extractor. On to Keith Urban’s guitar course that not only includes a handcrafted guitar, but 50 additional pieces. Onward ho to zQuiet, which helps with snoring and leads to better sleep (mmm). Can’t forget about My Pillow for better sleep (I’m taking note). And for us food lovers there’s NuWave Convection, conduction, and infared oven. Last, but not least, we have NuWave Induction Stovetop. I’m sure there are more, but those are what I remember.

I think infomercials in general are stupid, cheesy, and don’t even begin to work. They are only designed to separate me from my money, which isn’t hard to do. But I see a trend in these infomercials. Some of them seem kinda cool. And they seem to offer benefit and value. I can’t say this because I bought them and tried them, but the commercials are convincing.

Take Cize for example, the End of Exercize. These are dance workout videos produced by BeachBody starring Shaun T, the celebrity fitness expert and professional dancer and choreographer. His whole shtick is to do something fun and oh by the way burn calories too. Quit doing what we hate, which for most of us is slugging it to the gym and grinding through a workout. No, instead do something you enjoy and is fun and the calorie burn is a byproduct. This kind of thinking matches what Christopher McDougall promotes in his book, Natural Born Heroes, and to a degree in his bestselling book, Born to Run, which in my humble opinion is one of the greatest books ever written. Back to Shaun T and Cize.

Shaun T is a natural born salesman, and even just watching this infomercial gets me excited to go do something fun and and Cize up. For me, personally, that would be ping pong. But his infomercial is intoxicating. This thing is about to blow up! Those people in the testimonials are having fun. And not just burn calories, they are getting in fit physical condition. A doctor’s dream. So much fun and color and energy and its so hip hop and shiek. I’ve watch it like two nights in a row now. And been tempted to buy it! It’s only $60 for the whole thing plus shipping, so figure it’s knocking on $75. Cheap! Some will argue it’s not, but do the math. Cheap! $75 is nothing in the scope of getting in shape and getting those numbers where the doctor smiles. And it’s fun! How do you beat that. And that one African-American backup dancer in the video is soooo cute.

Shaun T does one other thing in this infomercial. He is supportive, and will guide you every step of the way, which is what we all need in our quest for living the dream. He takes our fears and tells us its okay, he’ll be with us every step of the way. $75 bucks. That’s cheap!. And it’s fun! And the calories will come off. And we’ll all not only lose weight, meaning we are burning those fat cells, but we’ll be in actual better physical condition from lower blood pressure to heart health to lower cholesterol to lower salt to lower sugar. Oh yeah, before I forget. How we eat is a big part of our physical condition, and they address that by giving you their booklet, Eat Up as a guide to healthier eating.

So while I was initially critical of Cize as just another huckster trying to separate us from our money, I am now convinced Cize offers value and bang for the buck. It gets us off our fat ass and gets us moving, eating better, something, to get us in better shape. And a side benefit is we feel better about ourselves for doing so.

Which leads me to the next infomercial, the NutriBullet Extractor. No, it’s not a blender, the host says. It’s an extractor. So what does that mean? Well, according to them our body only extracts and processes so many of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables and all the good stuff we are supposed to eat. The NutriBullet Extractor is different. Because of its special blades it breaks the food it grinds into small, little particles, breaking down cell walls, flipping the nutrients upside down, extracting the nutrients so the body can now process those nutrients efficiently and with ease.

Now, I won’t comment on the science of this for my brain seems to think that my body is fully capable of breaking down cell walls and extracting nutrients, thank you very much. So while this infomercial seems charlatan in nature there is something going on here, like Cize, that is positive. What would that be? You ask. In my infinite wisdom, let me tell you.

They are getting us to eat and consume the good stuff. What they say is true. Eating is the key to our health, what we put in our mouths. They are promoting eating fruits and vegetables and all kinds of cool foods. They are promoting, shamelessly, their product as the end all of all end all to better health. They promote the idea that eating better leads to better health. This is true, in my experience. I got those great numbers during my physical specifically because I focused on eating the good stuff, and exercising. So while this infomercial seems like they are promoting questionable science in terms of what their product does, they are, indeed, promoting better eating and better health. That’s a good thing. If buying this product, based on questionable science, leads to drinking a smoothie, a NutriBlast, as they call it, once a day, then that is a good thing. Because instead of pouring sugar and salt and fat down our throats, we are pouring apples and pears and avocados and berries and nuts. Cool.

I almost find myself wanting to buy one, just for the smoothie making qualities. I’m not convinced at all about the cell breakdown extracting kind of thing. But I have bought into the movement they are promoting with their product. And the price isn’t bad either. $120 for one of those things. BUT WAIT. If I order in the next 18 minutes I can buy one and get one FREE! So the price goes down to $60 each, plus shipping.

In Cize, they too inform me that if I order their product in the next 18 minutes I’ll get all this extra stuff. What a deal! Somebody must have done extensive research about this 18 minute thing. They know that my impulses and urges will only last 18 minutes, that that is the time frame to hook me! And it’s effective too. I am so tempted to call. I have to use every fiber in my body to not. I really want to.

But more importantly, let’s look at these two infomercials in aggregate. What are they pushing? One pushes having fun while working out and burning calories. The other pushes eating all this great healthy food in a fun easy manner by way of creating a smoothie, a NutriBlast that tastes great and that we will burn with desire to drink. All of this if I spend $60 each in the next 18 minutes. Let me comment.

So what? So what if I fall for their hype and goo and go ahead and spend $60 each in the next 18 minutes. What if I actually use their product? What’s the worst that can happen? I burn calories and eat better and lose weight and get in better physical shape and when I go see the doctor he or she is happy because my numbers are where they should be. I might remind you that during my physical of a few weeks a go 47 out of 48 numbers were right where they should be. The only number off was vitamin D; it was high, because I ate those vitamin D chewables like candy and over did it. Silly me.

So what I’ve concluded from all this: IT MIGHT BE WORTH OUR WHILE TO GET OFF OUR FAT ASS AND GO BUY THOSE PRODUCTS IN THE NEXT 18 MINUTES AND SPEND THAT $60 DOLLARS EACH (remember, you only make 3 easy payments of $19.99 each). IT MIGHT BE THE BEST MONEY WE EVER SPEND, AND WE NEED TO BE SURE TO ACTUALLY USE THEM. Because if you do, your doctor just might smile!

Okay, on to the next infomercial. NuWave conduction stove and NuWave induction oven. Both products are promoting healthy eating because both promote the consistency of cooking, say, chicken, which reduces the fat and drains off the grease and that fact the chicken is cooked consistently and thoroughly throughout can only be good. Now, I didn’t feel it like I did with the others, but I get what they are saying.

Let me take the induction stove as an example. I focused less on the health benefit and more on the convenience. When I cook something on the stove I am always concerned about those red hot burners. You are talking to someone who at 4 years of age plopped his little hand on a red hot stove after being warned my mom and grandma not to. I screamed bloody murder.

I’m always worried about about a piece of plastic or paper catching fire by finding its way on one of those red hot burners. So the appeal of the induction stove is that it doesn’t get hot, is energy efficient, is temperature controlled, and to a lesser degree cooks the food consistently throughout, but in less time. Let me just say I believe these are the benefits for the conduction oven too. The convenience and efficiency of it. Oh, and both are very compact and portable.

I didn’t rush up from my chair and grab my phone, but the safety and energy benefit appealed to me. I almost want one. I really do. Now, I don’t remember exactly their pricing, but I want to say it’s is just 6 easy payments of $19.99. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!. They offer a bunch of other stuff too. Tempting. YESSS, I’VE GOT 18 MINUTES, TOO. And I love food too. And I love chicken with onions and berries and vegetables, part of my healthy eating kick. They are like the vendors I met in India, who got me to buy something I explicitly told them I would not buy, and then I bought it. Those pros at NuWave are good salesmen. They could sell ice to eskimos. And that induction stove of theirs is on my radar. I haven’t said yes yet, then then again, I haven’t said no either.

On to the next product. Mmmm … let’s talk pillows and mouth guards. My Pillow and zQuiet to be exact. I’ve observed many people talk about My Pillow and this is the first I’ve heard of zQuiet. Both products hit me right where it counts. Sleep. They must know I’m suffering from terrible insomnia and both offer solutions for that which ails me. I know co-workers who swear by My Pillow and I’ve convinced myself I’ll give it a try. What do I have to lose? $100 bucks, that’s what. BUT WAIT. IF I ORDER IN THE NEXT 18 MINUTES USING THEIR SPECIAL TV PROMO CODE I CAN BUY ONE AND GET ONE FREE. What?

I’m already concocting who I can sell the extra pillow to. I’m desperate. I need to get my sleep. If I get good sleep I can move mountains. Without sleep I am useless. I am amused that there is a different promo code with every ad, which runs every few minutes. And with each ad I have another 18 minutes to buy a pillow. I’m just going to go to the mall, I don’t have to mess with shipping and since I’m impatient I can get it now!

As for zQuiet that fact it’s only $9.95, including shipping, is low enough in cost I’m just going to go ahead and buy it. For me it’s a no brainer. WAIT! I didn’t jot down the number. Oh, they must have a website. For sure they must. I’m desperate, and I’ve got nothing to lose in my war against insomnia. I must win! Whatever it takes! If this works they are a God send. If it doesn’t, well, I’m only out a lousy $9.95. BUT, I didn’t read the small print too well. Only after hitting the order button did I see what I missed before. It costs $9.95 for the 30 DAY TRIAL, not for the purchase of the product. If I keep the product longer than 30 days then I pay a one time charge of $79.95. I went back to their website to double check. Sure enough it does say 30-day trial, and there is an explanation in smaller print under the order button that explains how this works. Mmmm … they pushed the $9.95 in their ads on TV and that is what is in big print on their website. So it smacks a little of … and yes they do put on their website about the 30-day trial. But these are marketing people, they know how my brain is going to work and what I will focus on.

Which leads me to Keith Urban and his guitar course. Let me start right way talking about price. 6 easy payments of $49.99. And I think I get 21 minute for this one. And it will all ship after my FIRST payment, at least according to the friendly, bubbly, perky blond host. Not only do I get a guitar, I get 50 pieces with it, including 30 DVDs where I’ll learn 30 songs in 30 days. Keith himself comes on and explains his goal is to get you to learn one chord first, and then another, and then another. By learning 3 chords, he explains, you can play a lot of songs.

He had a special hand in designing the guitar, he says. The neck is narrower making it easier to wrap my hand around it. The space between the strings and neck is smaller making it easier to press my finger down on a string and make a note. Finally, there’s a special coating on the strings to make them less rough and easier on the hands. Keith explains, like Shaun T and Cize, that he’ll be with us every step of the way in our 30 day journey.

Now, I took guitar lessons once a long time ago and it was fun! And what Keith offers has fun written all over it. And for what you get, the price does seem more than reasonable. I’m not up on what guitars cost, but this seems like a reasonable deal. They claim the guitar alone that they offer in the package is worth $600. I don’t doubt them. For sure I wouldn’t be getting a guitar that Keith Richards would use during a Stone’s concert, but would I ever need that kind of guitar anyways? I wouldn’t be able to extract the benefit from a guitar like that.

And Keith Urban has a high amount of credibility too. Like Shaun T, he is proven commodity. As I sat in my chair, with the glare of the TV bouncing off my eyeballs, I wondered why Keith put his name on this. Was it for the money? He’s worth a boatload and his is one of the hottest country stars out there today. Or is this something he’d been thinking about for a while, that it’s a passion of his, helping others learn to play the guitar? Or did some smart businessman come to him with a great idea, and he saw the value in it and agreed to associate his name with it.

Mr. Urban is helping people learn something fun, and beneficial to their soul. Think of those campfires where you wish there was someone who’d pull out a guitar and lead you in song. Now there might be.

So based on my war against insomnia, my late night thoughts are this. There is much to learn by staying up way past my bedtime and watch the boob tube. And while there are questionable products and questionable claims being made in infomercials, with no more concern than separating me from my money, there are products to consider. Being gullible enough to purchase some of them them might lead to better health, and a better lifestyle, and add more fun to my life. Sitting there in my chair, doing my best to kill time until 2:30 am comes, filling the void with brainless dribble, I never thought I’d see the day.

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