Disclaimer: I have no moral objections to others consuming alcohol. For as long as I can remember, I have been a regular consumer. As of late, I have had a change of heart concerning my own use. Now, I am considering giving it up altogether. Here’s why:
I told my wife I may have to stop drinking, including one of my favorites: wine. The first thing she said to me was that a glass of wine is supposed to help you sleep. Come to think of it, I have have never had any trouble passing out after drinking. It does help me fall asleep faster than usual, but sleep is the primary reason why I am making this decision to abstain. Of all the reasons to stop drinking alcohol, sleep is may be number one on the list.
Four notable days in a two week period:
Thursday, 8/9/2018. It is Thirsty Thursday at a nearby grocery store. It has become an after-work tradition to have a few half-off craft beers in the tap room located inside the store. It is usually a good time spent with co-workers blowing off a little steam. On this particular Thursday, I noticed something new. I woke up wondering why I slept so bad. Of course, I have had bad sleep in the past, but this one in particular stuck in my mind. It was the first time in a couple of weeks, that I had consumed alcohol.
Friday, 8/17/2018. It has been just over a week since my last beer. I am out to dinner with the family and have an Michelob Ultra. I don’t usually drink Ultra, but I am trying to be a good boy and limit my carbs. The next morning, after one beer, I feel it again. Horrible sleep for the first time in a week. What is going on? I am not a big drinker, but I do like to have an occasional drink. But two times in a row of drinking mixed with bad sleep has got me wondering.
Monday, 8/20/2018. After work, I have two glasses of wine with dinner. I love wine. I fall asleep quickly and wake up wondering what just happened. I feel like I have been up the whole night.
Wednesday, 8/22/2018. Today, I am experimenting. I am going to have one glass of wine with dinner. I want to see if this has the same effect. I really don’t want to stop drinking , but I have another bad night of sleep. Damn!
Unfortunately, there is no sleep data for 8/17. I love how my Fitbit Charge 2 tracks my sleep, but on this night I was charging it.
Sleep is a precious commodity in my life. If I am lucky, I get about six hours of it a night. I am fine on six hours. I am fine on less as long as I hit one key metric. Deep sleep. Over an hour of deep sleep and I feel great the next day. Under an hour, and I struggle. When getting lower numbers of deep sleep in the past, I thought it was unfortunate stroke of luck. I never drew a correlation between deep sleep and alcohol consumption. Due to my work schedule in the month of August (which slowed down my normal consumption), I did not drink as much or as regularly. This small change allowed me to make this connection between deep sleep and alcohol.
I am in the process of reading Tony Robbins’ Awaken the Giant. In the early part of the book, Tony talks about associating behaviors you want to change with pain. What he was explaining made a lot of sense. I initially looked at his advice from a diet perspective. Eating the wrong foods often result in physical pain. Refined sugar, for example, can lead to joint pain. As I read from Awaken The Giant, a light came on in my mind. I never viewed moderate alcohol consumption as bad, but I did look at not sleeping well as painful. In fact, this was the most notable pain currently in my life. Once I drew the connection between sleep and alcohol, the thought of having even one drink became a painful idea. This is sad, because I like having the occasional drink. But as much as I enjoy the pleasure of drinking, I hate the pain of not sleeping.
We will all come to crossroads in our life where we will have to make a decision. Maybe it is not alcohol for you. Maybe it is another behavior or habit that is causing you pain. Is the pleasure of that habit worth the pain it causes later on? If it is something you actively want to change in your life, then the more pain you can associate with it, the greater chances you have of changing it. Using pain as a tool can get us closer to achieving our goals leading to a healthy body, soul, and spirit. Give it some thought, and maybe give it a try.