How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep.
So many people these days have trouble sleeping. Yet again, it’s a matter of finding the disconnects that modern life has brought about and filling the gaps, so here is my guide for how to get a better night’s sleep. Please don’t ignore the parts that deal with artificial light and EMFs. Because they haven’t been talked about before very much when dealing with this subject, and many think it’s enough to have a cup of camomile tea in front of the TV, it’s easy to ignore them, but they are perhaps the most important factors. For more on light and EMFs see my last blog post HERE.
1. A good night’s sleep begins with how you spend your day. Get up early, go outside, look at the sunrise and get your bare feet on the Earth. Get the cortisol going so you’re in synch with nature’s daily cycle. This will help the melatonin cycle to kick in later on when you need it for sleep.
2. If you drink tea and/or coffee, try to keep them to before 4pm, or preferably midday.
3. Same with alcohol; if you drink, do it in moderation and make sure it’s worn off by bedtime. An evening spent boozing never gave anyone restful sleep.
4. Don’t eat after 8pm, or preferably 6pm if you have trouble sleeping. Give it at least two hours before bedtime, and don’t eat heavily in the evening.
5. If you are overweight, sleep apnea can be a big problem, ruining restful sleep. Cut the carbs and lose that excess blubber.
6. Wear orange glasses, such as Blublockers, after the sun has gone down to cut blue light from the eyes when it’s not supposed to be there. The main receptors triggering melatonin production are in the eyes, so if you are under artificial light or watching TV/computers all evening, melatonin production will be affected. Orange glasses will lessen the effects of artificial light. Even better, switch off all screens and use candles for at least a couple of hours before bed. It’s actually very relaxing.
7. Don’t watch TV in the evening at all if you can help it, and certainly not programmes that are overstimulating. Want to watch a zombie or vampire movie? Watch it in the morning!
8. Magnesium is huge in aiding restful sleep. Take some magnesium malate at bedtime, spray on some magnesium oil or take an Epsom salt bath.
9. Take a cold shower or bath sometime before bed, maybe after a warm Epsom salt bath, until you get cold adapted and it becomes easier. I won’t go into the science of this, but believe me, the combination of orange glasses and the cold is magical for sleep.
10. Yes, camomile tea is good too! But don’t drink too much of any liquid before bedtime or you might need to go to the bathroom too many times. Hydrate earlier in the day.
11. Don’t exercise vigorously before bedtime. Exercise in the morning or late afternoon. If you feel the need to do something, gentle yoga or Hanna Somatics are ideal and can really help restful sleep. I did a short post on the benefits of Somatics for sleep HERE. Too little exercise is bad for sleep, but too much is worse…
12. Don’t overdo cardio exercise at any time of the day. It totally disrupts hormonal systems. Get into abbreviated weight training and sprints instead. To lessen the impact of cardio workouts with some very clever Ayurvedic ideas, see my blog post on it HERE or for greater detail, get my Pure Activity book.
13. This is an Ayurvedic idea for balancing vata dosha, which is the dosha that’s out of balance when we can’t sleep… Perform an abhyanga, or oil massage. It only takes a few minutes and you can do it yourself. HERE are some instructions. It really does help. At least oil the scalp and soles of the feet. Sesame oil is traditionally the best, but olive oil or coconut oil are good substitutes. I know this seems odd to us in the west, but just put a towel on the pillow to stop it getting oily and wash it out of your hair in the morning. The small inconvenience is worth a great night’s sleep, and it does work!
14. Another Ayurvedic principle, but based in science and common sense too… Go to bed when the first wave of tiredness comes; certainly be in bed by 10pm. 10pm until 2am is the time when the body repairs itself the most, and sleep taken between these times is very precious.
15. Turn off the radiator to keep the bedroom cool and open a window or two. A hot, stuffy bedroom is no good for restful sleep.
16. Sleep on an earthing sheet. This is amazing for improving sleep. For millions of years we slept on the ground, exchanging ions with the Earth. These days it is even more important to discharge the body’s store of EMFs that we get from our technology. A caveat here though is to make sure that you use the copper rod to connect the earthing sheet to earth via a cable outside instead of using the earth pin plug and connecting to the mains, in which case it can make matters worse. If in doubt, just make sure that you get your bare feet on the ground outside every day as often as possible. Also maybe look at magnetico pads if your budget allows.
17. Fit blackout blinds in the bedroom. The darker it is, the better. There are also some receptors in the skin, not just in the eyes, so this can help a lot. Failing this, wear a comfortable silk sleep mask over the eyes.
18. Take all electrical appliances out of the bedroom or unplug them. EMFs can totally disrupt sleep. Certainly never have your mobile phone under the pillow. If you have to have it next to the bed to see the time, turn the brightness down, keep it on airplane mode and keep your orange glasses next to the bed and put them on before you look at it. I can’t stress this enough – one blast of blue light can totally reset the body to make it think it’s daytime and time to wake up.
19. In the same vein, if you go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, don’t turn the light on. If you have to turn a light on for some reason, put the orange glasses on first.
20. Have sex, with a partner, or with yourself if you have no partner. An orgasm is great for a restful night!
21. If you do wake up, don’t fight to go to sleep and try to suppress thoughts. That’s impossible and will get you nowhere. Just watch the thoughts come and go without resisting, as if they were a film, and don’t attach to them. Stay relaxed and in the present, being thankful for a restful time when you can just lie there and enjoy being you without any pressing responsibilities. If you meditate, this is a good time to do it, but if you don’t, just try focusing on your breathing. Just breathe in and out with awareness and this will bring you into the present again. Worrying about not sleeping is the best way to stay awake! Enjoy being awake and before you know it, you’ll be asleep again. If you really can’t get to sleep again, get up, put on your blueblocking glasses and go and do something else for a bit. Try to think of sleep as cycles of 90 mins, give or take, instead of one long stretch. You need about five of these cycles per night. I usually sleep three cycles, then get up for an hour or two and then sleep another two cycles. It refreshes me as much as unbroken sleep.
There is a lot to be said for this biphasic sleep; in fact it might just be more natural than the unbroken eight hours that conventional wisdom suggests. Have a look at this ARTICLE by Mark Sisson to find out more.
22. If you have certain specific worries that are keeping you awake, learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or look into Byron Katie’s “The Work”… or both… (links to them on our resources page). This will do wonders for clearing those useless beliefs that keep you stressed. You CAN change your thoughts and beliefs about problems so they don’t worry you way before the problems themselves get resolved. It’s all about how we look at things, not how things actually are. Stress is a huge killer of people as well as sleep. You will never get rid of all your problems, so get rid of worrying about them instead, and you will never have another problem again!
23. As a very, very last resort you can use supplemental melatonin, but only temporarily, and preferably just to reset the system in emergencies like jet lag. If you do all, or most, of the above, you really shouldn’t need it.