New Year’s Resolution: Improved Sleep

It’s not really a New Year’s resolution, but it sounded a bit better in the title. One of the things I thought a lot about during the first months of my recovery from heart valve surgery has been my sleep. I think it’s something I have to admit I’ve neglected over the last years if not decades. In the back of my mind I decided it’s something I wanted to do something about, although I didn’t form any firm plans what it was.

Browsing in a bookstore during a trip to Reading just before Christmas I came across a little book I decided to pick up and see if it can help me forming a plan how to improve my sleep:

‘Elite sports sleep coach’ sounds a bit strange and bombastic, but then the author has indeed good credentials, having worked with the major football teams, the Sky cycling team and more. So I thought I’ll give it a go. I haven’t finished the book just yet, but what I’ve read so far largely makes sense to me.

Since just before Christmas I’m now getting up at a regular time (6:00 for me, very early, but I need the early start for various reasons) regardless of the day. Yes, even over Christmas and New Year I got up at that time. So far that’s working quite well. I’m trying to think/plan my night sleep in 90 minute cycles instead of thinking the old outdated 8 hours (which I never managed anyway) and also aim to have daytime naps in either 25 minute power naps or 90 minute full cycle naps. That part isn’t fully working yet, my body still needs to properly adapt to it. I’m trying to slow down and significantly reduce screen exposure the last hour before going to bed. I’m having mixed success with this, I’m now usually shutting down my laptop an hour before bed, but I’m still looking too much at my tablet/phone at the last minute, so far I haven’t fully build up the resilience not needing to look. Combined with general recovery/fitness plans I’m going for a 15-20 minute bedtime walk regardless of the weather, that’s working really well. I’m also doing other closure/preparation tasks like washing up, preparing my clothes for the next day and the like in that hour, that’s working fairly well.

There are many more areas needing work and I need to make sure I transfer what I’ve started into fully consistent habits, but then this is a journey, not something you just switch on. I’m hoping improving my sleep will help me in both the ongoing recovery as well as maintaining my health later on. After all sleep is when our bodies rest and repair themselves.

The Sailing and Beach Bum Years

Most people probably only know me with very short hair, the haircut I’ve now had for over a decade, probably closer to 15 years. But my hair hasn’t always been this short. In my younger years my hair for several years (mainly at school and at university) was quite long. When someone else shared a picture of him with long hair in younger years I had a look through some older prints I still have and ‘scanned’ two of them with Google’s PhotoScan. Here’s how I looked in 1989 (I think at least the picture with my Oma (Grandma) is from 1989) and 1993 (I know that’s from 1993, as it was taken when my parents and sister visited me while I was living in California):

(as usual, click on the pictures for the larger versions)

The Birds and the Berries

No, not the birds and the bees, the birds and the berries. Stop being naughty. For the last almost three months I haven’t been able to fully use my camera due to my heart surgery. Almost all the pictures I’ve taken were with the phone, except for the ones of the roses, but for that used the lighter ‘normal’ zoom. As I was limited in the weight I was allowed to lift I was unable to use my big (and unfortunately rather heavy) telephoto zoom lens. Only recently I’ve been allowed to start lifting more and on the 3rd Christmas Day (i.e. the 27th of December, the bank holiday in lieu of Christmas Day falling on Sunday) I decided to give the big lens a first go. I had spotted a number of birds going into a tree with red berries to feed. Not being used to lifting the heavy lens any more I wasn’t particularly successful, these three pictures I thought just about presentable:

(Click on the pictures for the larger versions)

I only lasted for about 10 minutes, then I really started to notice the weight of the heavy lens. Still a long way to go until that part of my body will have fully recovered, but I’m happy that I at least had a start now and have something to build on.

Nothing but the truth…