Continuing from the last part…
We were looking at the two lifestyle issues that plague most of us – Stress and Sleep issues. Then we mentioned how you can start reducing your stress levels.
And in this part, we are going to show you a Sleep Optimization Formula.
It’s very quick and easy to apply.
So you are not going to have a list of 50 things to do… just two or three key things.
So with Sleep Optimization we are going to focus on external cues, meaning your environment… then we’ll look into internal cues… the environment in your body, and finally some quick tips for ensuring you get a good night’s sleep!
For perfect “baby sleep” you really only need 3 things… it is not too difficult, it is just a matter of getting them done… a matter of developing some core habits (remember the topic on importance of habits?).
1 The first thing is that you have to be aware of external cues disturbing your sleep. Fundamentally the way our sleep works, it’s based on sunlight exposure.
During the day your body is exposed to sunlight, your body should be most active, and late at night, when the sun is away, your body should start to tire.
Meaning, what should ideally happen at night is, you should feel sleepy and should hit your bed as soon as sleep starts taking over.
And to ensure this happens, the first thing we need to do is, have the same sleep routine every single day.
2 Secondly, we need a complete blackout during sleep… no light in your room whatsoever when you go to sleep.
Many people have a habit of keeping a “night light” in their rooms. But this light totally confuses your brain.
1000’s of years of evolution have taught our brain that there should be no light at night. Period.
So basically, your brain ‘expects’ zero light when you sleep.
In fact, block out all bright light even before you go to sleep. At least 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep.
Blackout means ZERO light, no alarm light, no night lamps, no light coming in from the window, no computer charging lights and no computer screens.
? : The reason behind this:?
A: They emit the same frequency of blue light as that of daylight.
So the problem with ‘blue light’ is…
Though it is night-time, your brain sees this blue light from all our digital devices, and it stops the production of Melatonin, the most important hormone for inducing sleep.
Lack (or lower levels) of Melatonin = trouble falling asleep.
And to combat this “symptom”, the amazing western science gives a solution…
Don’t improve your routine, instead take a Melatonin pill! (That was sarcasm, by the way!)
But what these “pill solutions” do is that they completely throw your body’s natural hormonal stability out of whack!
If you take a melatonin pill for inducing sleep, your body will stop it’s own natural production, which will result in totally dependence on that pill for the foreseeable future.
Add to that, the side effects of external hormonal supplements are almost horrible.
The point being :
Our body thrives on habits, routines and consistency. The way to optimize sleep is to focus on this blackout environment and external cues… no lights, no mental stimulation before bed, and a totally natural environment.
Now… let’s have a look at internal sleep cues…
There is a big problem with people these days with this whole ‘tired and wired’ thing…
Many people wake up in the morning and they are exhausted. But late at night… they are wide awake like an owl!
And this is because of the hormone Cortisol… the most “dis-regulated” hormone in our urban lives… and what it does is, as we saw earlier… increases stress and makes you suffer from lack of sleep.
Ideally… Cortisol is released when we wake up, in response to the stress that your body will be dealing with through the day.
And when we approach night time, Cortisol starts dropping as the “sleep hormone” Melatonin rises… making you feel sleepy…
But today, thanks to the modern world, this has been flipped 180°… we are awake at night, and tired throughout the day!
So here’s how you can start fixing this problem…
The technique we teach is called the “reminder alarm”.
Usually when you think of alarms… you think of something that we are used to wake up, right?
But in this case, you are going to do the exact opposite.
You set an alarm for when to go to bed…
So for example, every night, you will start going to bed five minutes earlier.
Then, next step, you will set an alarm thirty minutes before that time, that is, before going to bed…
… and when it rings… you need to plug out and go away from all your electronic stuff, get off your computer screen and start doing something else, something passive, something that does not emit artificial light.
What this simple thing will do is re-train your brain to amp up your Melatonin levels before bed, making you feel sleepy, helping you sleep quickly and deeper.
“But What If I Still Have Problems “Falling” Or “Staying” Asleep?”
In that case, try one (or more) of the following tips… these help 8 out of 10 people sleep better and wake up fresher.
1 Get off the digital screens!
We already covered this. One of the MAJOR causes of insomnia and any other trouble with sleeping is because our eyes are glued to the bright screen, and we get the brain confused (“…Is it daytime, night, evening, what’s going on!?”)
So step 1 is to get away from all bright digital screens (mobile, tablet, TV, laptop, etc.) at least two hours before going to bed.
2 Hide your clock
You toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, watching the minutes tick toward morning on your bedside clock. Does this scenario sound familiar? Do yourself a favor: Hide the clock.
Constantly checking the time only increases your stress and anxiety (“only two hours left to wake up!!”), making it harder to turn down the dial on your nervous system and fall asleep.
3 Cool your room
Did you know your internal body temperature is integral to regulating your biological body clock?
When you’re falling asleep, your body temperature drops slightly, which according to the Harvard Medical School helps the process.
Darkness cues the brain to make Melatonin, which tells your interior clock that it’s time to sleep.
Melatonin cools your internal body temperature, which reaches its lowest point between 2 and 4 a.m.
A temperature of 22-24°C is recommended by most Doctors as being optimum for sleep (in India!).
4 Wear socks
Researchers from a Swiss study published in the journal Nature observed that warm feet and hands were the best predictor of rapid sleep onset.
In the study, participants placed a hot water bottle at their feet, which widened the blood vessels on the surface of the skin, thereby increasing heat loss.
Shifting blood flow from your core to your extremities cools down your body, working in concert with melatonin.
5 Immerse your face in very cold water for 30s
If you’re anxious or distressed at bedtime, the best medicine may be a face full of ice-cold water.
When you’re in a full-on aware state, your nervous system desperately needs to be reset to help you calm down.
Submerging your face in a bowl of cold water triggers an involuntary phenomenon called the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Then it’s off to bed with a calm system.
6 Listen to music
Finally, music will help!
Studies have shown that classical music, or any music that has a slow rhythm of 60 to 80 beats per minute, can help lull you to sleep.
In a 2008 study, students aged 19 to 28 who listened to relaxing classical music for 45 minutes before bed showed significant improvement in sleep quality.
PLUS: They also reported decreased symptoms of depression.
Sleep is one of the, if not THE, most important factor when it comes to weight loss.
Ironically, it is also the thing that’s given the least importance, especially in our urban life.
If you don’t have any problems sleeping (and know that you’re lucky for that!), then definitely try to get at least 7 hours of (minimum) QUALITY sleep every night, with 8-9 hours being optimum.
And if you’re someone who has a lot of trouble with sleep, then we highly recommend this American program that has helped our very own founder (Amod Oke) to eliminate his sleep issues: