To Dream, Or Not To Dream

Last modified on January 13th, 2010

So today is January 13th, which means I’ve been both caffeine and pop (soda for you Americans) free since the start of the year. I’ve given up caffeine at various times in my life, so that’s not amazingly impressive for me. But I can’t say that I’ve ever given up pop for more than a few days at a time before.

I’ve had quite a few problems sleeping over the last few years, and I often have trouble both falling asleep and staying asleep. It seems even the smallest of noises will wake me up sometimes, or even something as small as a breeze blowing across some exposed skin. To be honest, it pretty much sucks.

Because my sleep has been so crappy, it’s not very often over the last few years that I’ve had any dreams. A lot of people will argue that I must have had dreams, and simply didn’t remember then, which may be the case. But given how tired I was some days when I woke up, I wouldn’t discount the fact that I rarely hit REM sleep enough times to dream for any significant amount of time.

Strangely enough, I’ve been dreaming pretty much every night for the past week or so. Last night I had some crazy dreams about speaking at a conference I wasn’t prepared for, and the day prior something about being on a boat. But the fact that I’m dreaming at any capacity again is kind of cool, so it’s like a new adventure every night! But I have to attribute that to a complete cessation of caffeine.

I’ve been reading a bit on the physiological effects of caffeine, trying to figure out just what will happen if I continue staying away from it. Apparently it takes at least six weeks for cortisol to go back to normal levels, which is the hormone involved with stress. So I imagine I’ll continue to see slight improvements in sleep (and possibly mood) over the next few weeks.

In general though I feel pretty great. Waking up in the morning isn’t a chore, most likely because I actually got some rest during the night. I also don’t feel tired in the afternoons anymore, something that would usually happen at around 2 or 3pm for me, facilitating another big intake of caffeine to keep going.

So, I’m going to continue staying away from pop and caffeine for a while longer and see just how I feel. But the hard part is obviously over, so much so that I passed a big display of diet pepsi today and didn’t crave it at all in the least.