It was a late night in 2013, I was studying late into the night. I would sit at my favourite nasi lemak stall reading my university notes while drinking a cup of teh tarik and eating nasi lemak which had double of triple portions of rice.  After studying and filled with sugar, I would do my favourite activity- Cycling at 2am. 

I wore my helmet, took my shiny time trial bicycle, blast music with heavy base and start my 2 hour sprint around Singapore. As I was racing against time, I would sprint through the red lights, adrenaline pumping into my veins. It felt amazing and I was clearly addicted to it. I would stop half was at King Albert Park Mcdonalds(now no more) to eat an upsize meal and a huge coke. 

Upon reaching home I would take a shower and try to sleep. Lying on bed, I will always remember the feeling of my heart pounding incredibly hard, my body still in a heightened state. How could I fall asleep?

I kept this high stress state for many years, pushing my mind till its breaking point. I did rock climbing too and I particularly like pushing my boundaries, all sessions consist of my muscles shaking with exhaustion at the brink of slipping and falling. I was always pushing the evolutionary fear response- death falling from a height.

Only an idiot would fail to realise that all these was causing poor sleep and recovery. Unfortunately, I was that idiot. I thought that only if I push harder would I achieve my success.

2 years passed. my day became my night. My night became my day. Still I had a bad attitude toward sleep. I didn't respect it. I would often say "sleep is for the weak, you can sleep all you want when you are dead". Little did I know the day I would come near to death would be soon. 

2016, I lost all my energy. My body was broken. I was sleeping 10 to 16 hours a night but woke up tired. I told my then girlfriend that I envied her. She had 16 hours in a day and slept 8 hours, I had 8 hours in the day and slept 16 hours. 

With all a host of problems I went to see many doctors. One referred me do a sleep study. The ironic part was since I was sleeping in the day and the sleep study was done at night, I just couldn't do the sleep study.

Me being me, I researched on sleep. I read of people sleeping only 2 hours a night. I was called polyphasic sleeping. Uberman sleep was a version of it. It goes like this: sleep for 20mins, stay awake for 4 hours. You would do this for 6 cycle. To kick start the cycle, you should stay awake for 24-36 hours. You will be so sleepy the moment you sleep, you go into rem sleep. Set your alarm for 20mins and force yourself to wake up. Do this for 2 weeks and your body should accommodate to it. Think of all the extra time in the day from sleeping 10-16  hours to just 2 hours a day. I could do with extra time. 

To side track, I was a glutton. It was my bright idea to put a fridge next to my bed. Literally stretching my hand into fridge grabbing a sandwich and eating on bed. What could possibly go wrong with a 3rd hand 15 year old bacteria fridge next to my bed? 

Speaking of bed, who needs to change beds or pillows anyway? Just had your used items to me so I can save money and spend it to restock my fridge. The colour changes and broken springs didn't bother me.  I will remember, if I left my cup of tea for a day stuff will start growing on top of the cup.

With my uberman sleep, germ filled fridge, florescent blue light, high sugar junk food diet, I quickly lost my sense of time and self. 

My recovery
As a once smart university study who was starting companies, cycling and rock climbing actively, I was broken mentally and physically. I didn't have energy to hold a full time job. Eventually, I ate the humble pie and drove grab and uber usually till 3am-5am in the morning just to get an income. While tiring, there was an upside. I filled my mind with health interviews and podcast, listening to them while driving. I tried to outsmart myself, now I have to unlearn everything and learn how to sleep. Here is what I did.

Track my sleepFrom Excel sheet with sleep and wake times, to smart watch and now Oura ring.
I used to have an hour of deep and rem sleep. I used to wake up 3 to 5 times in the night.

100% Black out my room
10 black out curtains, loads of black tape for every led light.

No more blue light before bed
Changed all my lights

Soundproof my roomWith sound proofing foam, and many yoga mat taped together. I even had 6 connected hung on my window to block out external noise.

Declutter my room
Threw away 80% of everything I had. Bought new beds and pillows.

Clean my room
Every day I mopped and wipe. When I discovered green and black mould growing in the aircon trunking, I ripped the 30 year old aircon system from my house and replaced it.

Changed my dietI wanted stability in my blood sugar. When it drops too low, my adrenal will kick it causing me to wake up.
Correlate foods with and morning dry mouth. Food and bloating. A common 'hack' of having a spoon of honey before sleep does not work for me, it causes lots of gas and bloating. MSG laden foods have a HUGE impact on my ability of fall asleep.

Low my stressFrom tai chi to breathwork to coaching and chiropractic care! No more cycling at 2am through red lights.

Create my night routine
Essential oils, a cup of non caffeinated tea, warm lights, stretch, journal.

Feel safe
I busted by fear of heights through rock climbing. I didn't feel safe at small possibility of rolling of my bed landing 30cm on to the floor. 

Created sleeping cave
To feel safe, I made a "baby cot" where one side was the wall while the other side was the cupboard.

Purify the air
Dyson air purifier while claims to filter particles as small as 0.01 microns

Shielding from EMF
Along with my blockout curtains, I lined my sleeping cave with a fabric which blocks out EMF such as wifi, radio signals etc. There is a satellite communication dish within 1km from my room.

Pee bags and bottle
A big problem I had was waking up to urinate, walking past the living room exposes me to the bright lights installed in the HDB corridor. Now I simply pee in my room and dispose of it hygienically in the morning.

Now it is not uncommon to see 2 to 3 hours of deep and rem sleep each, while sleeping for 8 to 9 hours.