“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Benjamin Franklin
Sleeping, though it may seem a useless activity where you just do nothing, is instead a fundamental part of our lives. As we know from the duality principle, there is the active essence in this universe and the passive one. Sleeping concerns the latter and being able to “fall” (asleep) into the passive aspect of life will make you enjoy more the active part of it. This means that by sleeping better you will become a better individual in your daily life.
Due to various factors like stress, new technologies, junk food and various types of pollution, sleeping has become difficult for almost everyone. It does not only affect people that have constantly this problem but also a great portion of population that, sporadically, find it difficult to fall asleep.
In fact, l guess it also happened to you that, having to so some “important” activities the day after, like job interviews, presentations, exams, speeches, shows etc, you didn’t manage to sleep the night before. Or that you had nothing to do the day after but still something prevented you from sleeping well.
What are the negative effects of lack of sleep?
Sleeping less time than the one that your body requires is destructive for yourself. According to different studies, people should sleep no less than 6 hours and no more than 9 hours per night. Yes, oversleeping is also harmful and makes you waste unnecessary time that you could spend for your hobbies.
If you are oversleeping, it will be easy for you to get back to the healthy habits just by setting an alarm. In any case, probably, there are much more people having problems with lack of sleep than oversleeping so lets outline the negative effects that it has on you. Sleep deprivation causes:
- Reduced Sex Drive;
- Weight Gain;
- Reduced Muscle Gains;
- Premature Aging;
- Heart Problems (Heart attack, Heart Failure, High Blood Pressure, Irregular Heartbeat);
- Weakened Immune System;
- Loss of Memory;
- Loss of Focus;
- Accidents Proneness;
- Lessened Ability to make Appropriate Judgments;
- ADD (Attention Deficit Disorders);
- Loss of Motivation;
- Black Circles;
- Poor general Quality of Life.
The picture looks quite bad, that’s why we all have to shift towards more healty habits that will permit us to have sweet dreams and great lives.
Going to bed and waking up at different times every day will confound you biological clock about the right times to go to bed and waking up. Try to go to bed before 11:00 A.M. because after that time the body stops producing catabolic hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that are the active ones, produced during daytime and responsible to get you energized.
When sunset arrives the body starts changing its hormonal production and anabolic hormones like Testosterone and GH (Growht Hormone) will be produced. Basically after sunset the body is getting ready to recover and rebuild itself up after it has been “broken”. By going to bed late you are missing a great portion of this process so you will actually have a lower quality of sleep and in the morning you will feel more tired.
Another good thing to do is to wake up naturally without the alarm. When you go to bed early, your body will wake up when refreshed and it will not take him too much time to fully recover, on the other hand it will recover fastly and less sleeping time will be needed to fully recharge.
When you didn’t sleep enough time during the night and feel sleepy don’t go to bed for hours but take instead power naps of 15-20 minutes. They will give you enough energy to continue working but will not make you feel asleep during the night.
Finally don’t go to bed right after lunch or dinner especially, you will not only transform the food in fats, since your metabolism slows down and your body can’t manage to burn them but you will again confound your biological clock.
Another tip is to sleep in a completely dark space since if your eyes will capture even a small amount of light your brain will decrease its melatonin production. Melatonin is essential to have a good night sleep because is is a hormone involved in the synchronization of circadian rithms in humans beings and animals.
According to this Forbes article, another thing improving your sleep quality is to get as much sunlight as you can (without getting burned) in the morning. The most agreed reason for improving your sleep is that receiving sunlight in the skin during the day will make your body secerne more melatonin during the night.
Exposing yourself to screens less than 2 hours before going to sleep is going to impair your sleep quality as well because your eyes will capture light and send signals to the brain telling that there is still light time and so decreasing melatonin production. Screens of PC’s, tablets, smartphones and televisions are designed to look like the sun. If you have to necessarily use your computer the best thing you can do is to install a display adaptation software like f.lux that will gradually decrease your computer’s brightness based on your local time.
Finally, try to turn off the strongest light in your house during the night and instead to use soft lights to induce sleep easier. You can also use candles to create a suffused and relaxing lighting or, as l do, coloured lights like red, green or whatever color induces you relaxation. I personally use them whenever l need to create a particular ambiance, relaxing in this case.
Tip#3: Do Sport
As explained on This Article on the National Sleep Foundation website, sleeping proneness and quality is highly improved when you exercise at least for 150 minutes per week. This is not a lot of time and you can actually organize yourself to workout for 45 minutes 3 days per week and add at least a 15 minutes cardiovascular activity. It could even be playing football,basketball, soccer and so on, running, dancing in the club and even having sexual intercourse. The important thing is that you add also a cardio activity.
Cardio activities are great because they make you sweat and by sweating you will eliminate toxins easier. Why that? Because it could also be that you have poor sleep quality because of high intoxication of your body.
Exercise speeds also up your metabolism, elevates body temperature, and stimulates activating hormones such as serotonin and cortisol. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for restful sleep other than happiness and healthy appetite. Cortisol, on the other hand, is the hormone of stress. It is then important not to exercise right before going to bed otherwise your body will be too tense to relax and sleep. Finish your workouts at least 3 hours before you plan going to bed.
- The first element of your diet that you should avoid taking if you are having sleeping problems is coffee. Coffee is bad for your sleep because of the caffeine that it contains. Caffeine is a stimulant and a psycoactive drug that blocks the action of adenosine (a purine nucleotide) that behaves also as a neuromodulator that promotes sleep. If you are a coffee freak and can’t function without it l would advise not to take it less than 8 hours before going to sleep.
- Avoid big or complex meals before going to sleep since your body will need a lot of energy to process them, and this will keep you awake. Spicy, acid and foods high in fats are in the blacklist. If you can’t avoid them at least try to eat these foods during the day.
- Drink the right amount of water before going to bed. Too less water will dehydrate your body while too much will overload your urinary bladder. Both excess will probably wake you up during the night.
- Eat foods rich in melatonin. Melatonin is the main hormone regulating sleep so eating foods rich in melatonin is a great substitute to melatonin pills. Some examples are:
- Passion Fruit
- Sweet Corn
Have these foods during the day but at dinner the best thing is to have just a simple meal, preferably just vegetables and not overcooked. This way your body will digest them very easily. If you feel hungry after a dish of vegetables there is one food that is admitted even right before going to bed: fruit. The more watery the fruit is, the better. Try and let me know! You will be amazed by the results if you keep your dinner super clean. The energy that your body will emit the day after will be unbelievable.
Tip#5: Reduce Stress Levels
If you have a stressful life or are prone to stress you HAVE TO get rid of it. Not only stress literally makes your body weaker, older and less healthy and efficient but it also impairs its ability to relax that is fundamental to sleep. Again workout, can help you but there are also more effective techniques to reduce stress.
Yoga is an amazing tool to reduce stress levels and not only. Yoga is not just simple stretching but it also encompasses a broader spectrum of activities like mindfulness, energy management and mind empowering. You can start your yoga routine in the morning or have a session in the late afternoon after your workout to prepare your body to sleep.
Meditation is another great technique that will make you become the master of your mind. This does not mean only that you will able to monitor and even choose with awareness (on a later stage) your thoughts but it also mean that you will be able to spot what are the most influential stressors in your life, understand why they stress you and put a remedy to them.
Meditation will give you insights about your life that you never got before so l strongly advice you to start as soon as possible to practice it. Once you will start you can begin with basic breathing exercises to make your body relaxed and so more prone to sleep. Also here l will not go into details for now. Look on the internet some basic meditation exercises and start practicing them Gradually. Never overdo them at first cause they can cause a lot of problems to your nervous system.
I will just give you a basic exercise to do
Choose a shape or object that you like. It could be a triangle, the moon, a pencil, a sunrise, a car etc. Close your eyes and try to visualize the chosen shape into your mind. Your aim is to visualize it for 1 consecutive minute without making it change and without distracting yourself. If you get distracted restart from zero. Once you reach 1 minute you can go on incrementing every other time 30 seconds to your meditation. Try simple shapes first and try to focus only on them. Later on you can try to visualize panoramas, more complex objects or moving scenarios.
If you are not into yoga too much and want to get a part of its benefits you can start introducing after your daily workout routine a stretching routine (even though it should always be included). Stretching will help your body to release energy blockages that may have occurred into it and since they affect your mind as well making it become more rigid, by releasing them you will release tension and so be less stressed and more relaxed.
Apart from that you can have benefits for your back that for many people hurts when sleeping in bad positions or when one wakes up. The quality of your sleep will improve a lot if your back will be in a good shape. Another tip is to sleep in a supine position that is the perfect one for your back health or at least on your sides. Never sleep on prone position because it will flatten the natural curve of the spine and give you lower back issues. In any case, always experiment and listen to your body.
Go out and scream! Screaming is another great technique to LET GO OF EVERYTHING. You know when you are at the club and your favorite song kicks in? Yeah. I imagine you scream like me since nobody can really hear our gross singing skills. In any case and apart from jokes, screaming will make your body release all the retained emotional garbage that can be preventing you from sleeping well.
You may have also problems with overthinking. If you just pass your days thinking about negative stuff chances are that at the end of it you’ll feel anxious, drained, depressed and that you had accumulated tension into your body.
This unreleased and self created tensions are killers for sleep because they can be rooted into your subconscious making is a tougher problem to solve. Try to bring your problems to surface and face them so that your mind will be freer and unconstrained.
If you cant sleep because you are too worried and you can’t take these things out of your mind do what Dale Carnegie advises:
“If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.”
Sensorial stimulation is a very good way to relax your body and prepare it for sleeping. Choose some things to do amongst these based on your tastes:
- Take hot baths to completely relax your body for 15 to 20 minutes, before going to bed;
- Get a massage from your partner but only if he/she is skilled;
- Use essential oils that induce relaxation, Lavender is a good one;
- Drink relaxing tea blends. Peppermint, Chamomile, Valerian, Lavender and Lemon Balm;
- Listen to relaxing music. This is individual so choose the right one for you.
- Imagine relaxing places for you like beaches with calm sea, lakes, and other relaxing places.
While you perform these activities try to enjoy them completely. It is fundamental that you like what you are doing otherwise it will not be relaxing at all. So choose your activities based on your instinct.
Making love is also another great way to help you sleep well.
During the sexual activity your muscles are constantly contracted but approaching the orgasm they reach their contraction peak just to completely release and relax after that.
Apart from this, consequent of orgasm is the release of hormones like prolactin that induces relaxation, letting you falling asleep more easily. It makes also women produce estrogen that are enhancing of their REM phases, the part of sleep where dreams occur. Also, as said on This Article of Elite Daily, after having made a survey on british women, 17 percent of them slept longer and deeper after sex.
Again it turned out than not only sex helps sleeping better but sleeping better helps having more sexual desire. Women in sexual relationships that slept more than average reported the highest levels of sexual desire and vaginal lubrification.
As concerns men, after orgasm many hormones are produced including norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and nitric oxide (NO). This hormones are called endorphines and are also responsible for reducing the production od cortisol, a stress hormone.
Oxytocin and vasopressin as said here are also responsible for inducing relaxation and release of melatonin that regulates the body clock as we know.
There are much more benefits associated with sexual activity but for topic purposes we won’t cover them here. In any case good luck and have fun with it.
Seems like our journey is about to finish. Nooooooo! Don’t worry. l won’t leave you after having given some other little tips that can also make a difference. Ready? let’s GO!
Final Little Tips
- Use earplugs if there are too loud sounds that disturb you. You can also use a white noise generator since white noise is going to cover all the peaks and downs in external sounds that are actually responsible for waking you up. It does not work for everyone but trying costs nothing. There are plenty of white noise videos on youtube so choose the one that fits you the best. If it works you can buy a real generator;
- Try to set your room temperature between 16-19 Degrees because the body to sleep weel needs a cool environment. Be sure you cover your feet if you feel too cold because they are very sensitive and could be difficult sleeping if you have cold there;
- Use a sleeping mask if there are too many lights that prevent you from sleeping;
- Sleep on a good quality bed with good quality pillows. The mattress and pillow should comply with your tastes even if a hard mattress is generally considered better for sleep.
- Read contents that make you sleepy or bored but on paper support.
- Affirm to yourself that you will sleep peacefully and very well this night.
- Imagine fantasy stuff in your head to approach the dream world more easily.
- Avoid counting how many hours you are gonna sleep, it can make you stressed
- Use your bed just for sleeping and sexual activities.
These advises that l have given you are partially derived from research and partially from my experience. Anyway what l would like to tell you is to always listen to your body needs and sensations. If you feel something is not working try to change it with something else. We are all different human beings with different necessities so listen to your body.
Having said that, l hope that you will start having sweet dreams in your bed, and not only.
To the next one.