The Magic of Health and Sleep
How much do we actually need sleep? Unfortunately, for a good majority of us the struggle is real.
How much do we actually need sleep? Sleep is essential for health. Sleep regulates brain function, athletic performance and cell metabolism. Sleep is a mandatory contributor for recovery and healing. Unfortunately, for a good majority of us the struggle is real. Ultimately, effecting the quality of rest and in turn the quality of our hours awake. Most people need 7-9 hours with only a few exceptions.
Sleep is a Problem for Almost Everyone
I, personally, have never been a big sleeper. "Rooster" was my childhood nickname. At slumber parties as a kid I was always the last asleep and the first awake. I have spent countless nights staring at my bedroom ceiling and many mornings waking up before the alarm. Eventually I came to depend on more (and more…) caffeine just to get through the work day. But, as a result of personal trial and error, and the help of many great mentors, I no longer suffer from insomnia and I drink coffee when I want to enjoy it rather than needed it.
Below is my personal list of sleep hacks to get your zzz's on:
- Go to bed by 10:30pm, 11:00pm at the latest.
I fought this long and hard. I justified staying up late as long as I clocked 8 hours of sleep but didn't then realize the effects. Finally, an ayurvedic doctor, and friend of mine, refused to stop addressing it until I started getting in bed by ten. What a huge difference! It is between 11pm-1am that the liver most actively repairs itself from the constant work and processing of the day. If you do not get to bed by 10:30 your body may trigger a release adrenaline and give you a second wind.
- Block blue light.
Blue light can inhibit the body's melatonin release and upset the natural circadian rhythm. 2 hours before bed take appropriate measures to cut off blue light exposure. Make sure to dim all your lights and avoid bright screens from electronics including computers, cell phones and televisions. Try reading rather than watching TV. If you must expose yourself to these devices you can turn down the brightness or install blue blocking screens or the Flux application. You can also use blue light-blocking eyeglasses which are available in many varieties on Amazon or from Gunnar for nicer glasses. I keep a pair in several drawers around the house and always take them when I travel.
- Get regular acupuncture.
Yes, I may be biased here but I have seen quality of sleep improve for countless number of my regular patients. Acupuncture has been successfully treating insomnia for thousands of years. A good acupuncturist will insist on you sleeping well in order to strengthen the body's energy so it may heal itself.
- Use your mobile phone to track your sleep.
Apps like SLEEP CYCLE help you to track your sleep and add notes according to what activities you did, food you ate and supplements you took during the day. This will allow you to see patterns of what works best for you in order to get highest quality sleep at night.
- Try grounding (walking around barefoot on the earth)
Walking barefoot on the earth is a simple way to help you to reconnect with your natural state and it balances the energy of the body. Walking barefoot can also massage the meridian points on your feet that correlate with sleep. You can also use an Earthing mat/sheets or Bio mat.
- Try the acupressure sleep induction mat before bed
These mats stimulate the acupuncture meridians/channels in your body to bring your energy downwards and help you relax.
- Take a hot bath (or an ice cold one according to Time Ferris's experiments) with lavender and roman chamomile essential oils.
Try Chinese herbs first, these are given based on your specific diagnosis. Then, specific neurotransmitter stimulating supplements; melatonin, phenibut, L-tryptophan with Methycocalamin (B12) and L-ornithine.
- An hour before bed start to wind down by reading having a cup of relaxing chamomile valerian or passionflower tea.
- Try a tablespoon of raw organic honey before bed.
- Use melatonin.
It is great for resetting your time clock when traveling. Go to bed at a normal time in the time zone you are arriving and supple with 15mg, twenty minutes before bed, and going down by 5mg each night.
- Use acupressure.
Put them on Heart 7 point, which is on the lateral side of the interior wrist crease. This is the best point for insomnia.
- Upon awakening get sunshine on your face the first chance you can.. This will help your circadian rhythm signals normalize by stimulating your pineal gland.
Causes of Insomnia
Insomnia is caused by many factors, including improper diet and nutrition. Here are examples of the types of food that promote sleep and the types that inhibit it.
Foods which promote a healthy night of sleep include:
- Chlorophyll-rich foods such as leafy green vegetables either steamed or broiled
- Fruits such as mulberries and lemons to calm the mind
- Carbohydrate rich foods boost serotonin which promotes sleep
- Vitamin B6 oriented foods
- All types of mushrooms
- Jujube seeds calm down spirit
- Chia seeds
- Warm milk with honey is one of the oldest and best sleep remedies
- Lettuce should be an integral part of your evening diet if suffering from a sleep disorder
Foods which can cause insomnia include:
- Coffee and tea before bed
- Spicy foods
- Refined carbohydrates which drain the B vitamins
- Non-organic foods which contain pesticides
- Canned foods
- Sugar and foods high in sugar should be avoided at dinner
- Foods likely to cause gas, heartburn, or indigestion: spicy food, fatty food, garlic flavored foods, beans, cucumbers, and peanuts
- Foods that are high in protein such as meat can inhibit sleep by blocking the synthesis of serotonin
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (often found in Chinese food) can cause a stimulant reaction in some people
- Avoid heavy meals before bedtime