Great workshop last night on the Healing Power of Sleep. I have a few notes here for you but first, two cool sleep facts:
Cool Sleep Fact No. 1 – Hibernating animals still need to sleep
Yes it’s true. A hibernating animal has to come out of hibernation periodically (every few days to weeks) in order to sleep. You may not be able to tell just looking at them but sleep is so important, even a hibernating animal needs it. Obviously sleep is more than just resting.
Cool Sleep Fact No. 2 – Your brain is more metabolically active when you are asleep than when restfully awake
So what is your brain doing so hard while you are sleeping? Building memory, solving problems, repairing your body, rebuilding your immune system and more. In fact, if you don’t get any sleep for a few weeks, your immune system will get so depleted you die from uncontrolled infection.
In other words, sleep is pretty important 😉
So to get the most out of your sleep, there are 4 steps:
Step 1 Good Sleep Hygiene
- No alcohol before bedtime
- No caffeine
- No work or problem-solving in bed
- Get up and write it down. Work out which problems are yours, and which are God’s
- Keep your room
- Dark (no pilot lights, heavy drapes)
- Use earplugs if your partner snores or you have other noise that disturbs you
- If you wake to go to the bathroom, don’t drink before bed
- Don’t be hungry or stuffed full
- Go to bed and get up at the same time
- Normalise (alkalise) your body pH
Step 2: Re-Entrain your Circadian Rhythm
Your sleep is determined by a combination of your circadian rhythm and accumulated sleep debt. Ideally, you want to keep your sleep debt at a minimum. Your Circadian Rhythm can get totally out of whack especially if you have done many years of shift work. This disrupted rhythm really messes with your sleep. Here’s how to re-entrain it.
The main determinant of your circadian rhythm is light. So when you go to sleep, you must have total darkness – no pilot lights, heavy drapes. Total darkness. When you wake, you want bright light, so crank up the lights if the sun is not up. Different people naturally wake at different times. Do your best to work out when your wake time is, subtract 8 hours and be in bed ready for sleep by that time. e.g. if you naturally wake at 6 am, be in bed ready for sleep at 10 pm. Make sure it’s fully dark. When you wake, let the light in bright.
At first, be quite strict and regular with your sleep and wake times. This will help re-entrain your rhythm.
If you are still having trouble, take some melatonin 3mg 20 min before sleep. This natural sleep hormone should be high when you go to sleep. Taking the capsule will help retrain your pineal gland to secrete melatonin naturally at the right time.
Step 3: Address sleep problems
The main sleep problems are commonly due to subluxation: sleep apnoea, restless legs, pain, snoring. Exercise will help with these too.
Step 4: Sleep Aids
If you have done the other steps and are still having trouble, there are some naturally occurring supplements you can take:
- Alkaline booster – 1tsp before bed
- 5-HTP (hydroxy-tryptophan) – 100mg
- Precursor to serotonin and melatonin
- Reduces stress, allows sleep
- Melatonin – 3mg
- 20 min before sleep retrains your circadian rhythm
- Herbal remedies
- e.g. Swanson’s Sleep Essentials
P.S. Peter asked a great question (as he often does – props to you Pete!): What’s the story with blue light and the circadian rhythm? The sensors for light that influence your circadian rhythm are in your eyes but are different to the light sensors you use to see. They contain a pigment called ‘melanopsin’ which makes them sensitive to blue light. What does this mean? It means that your circadian rhythm is more influenced by blue light than warm/yellow lights. So for alertness/waking, you want blue/white lights (like workplace fluoro’s) and for winding down for sleep you want soft/warm/yellow lights. You can imagine computer screens or TV with lots of blue will work against sleeping – so take care!