The cure to insomnia is sitting in the sky

 

Modern times have ushered forth some new and very exciting prizes. Camera’s, iPhones, digital music, online payment, TV’s, microwaves, etc. But one thing modern times has not unlocked is the cure to insomnia. Yes, there are chemical supplements available to knock you out whenever you wish, but these aren’t always very reliable.

Let’s take melatonin for example. I’ll take melatonin before bed every night for a month. The first night I fall right asleep and stay asleep all night. But by day 30, my body has become accustomed to the drug and it no longer has the same effectiveness.

Then I try a new drug, and then another one, and another one. Not only is this ineffective but it’s also incredibly frustrating. If only I could gaze into the sky and find an arrant solution to my problem.

Oh, wait.

For all who have come here searching for the end to your sleep problems, I will tell you that your answer could indeed be in the stars. It seems absurd that the cure for your nighttime sleeping problems is only available during the day, but hear me out.

Biological clock

Also called the circadian clock, this bodily instrument tells your body when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep. Exposure to sunlight early in the morning (between 6:30 and 8:30 am) will work to reset your clock so you wake up and go to sleep at strict intervals. By lying in bed restless every night, you are losing a lot of sleep you might not be able to get back. Most people have to get up for jobs in the morning which help set their circadian clock. It’s not that easy though. Many behaviors contribute to how our clock is functioning. For example, how late do you stay up on the weekends?

If the answer is 2 or 3 am, you could be messing up your body clock for during the week.

By going to sleep late every night — or getting up late, you cause your body to undergo what is called “drift”. To counter this drift, you need to expose yourself to as much natural sunlight as possible in the morning. Artificial lights(any light that is not the sun) will not have the same effect.

Let me give you an example from my own experience.

Experiment

For two years I worked in an office with no windows — aka no natural sunlight. Many nights I would stay up late — mostly doing homework — but my body clock would not reset when I awoke in the morning. Over that time, I began to experience restlessness whilst trying to sleep which eventually progressed into habitual sleeplessness (aka insomnia). One summer, I took a trip to a country where I was outside in the sun all the time.  For two weeks, I spent very little time indoors and absorbed more vitamin D than I did in months back home. I slept very well those two weeks, and I attributed that to the weariness I experienced from being in the sun all day. However, when I got back I noticed how much quicker and easier I would fall asleep.

Now fast forward to now — I still fall asleep quite easily. But why is that? Certainly two weeks in another country didn’t magically cure me.

Upon returning, I naturally began settling back into my old routine. And over those next few weeks, I noticed that same restlessness starting to creep back in before I went to sleep. With an idea of what might be causing it, I decided to do a little experiment.

Every day upon waking up I would go outside and sit in the sun. This happened before anything else in my entire day — even before I ate breakfast. I had to work it into my schedule to wake up a bit earlier for this, but the results made it worthwhile. I’d relax outside for 15-30 minutes each time and then go about my day like normal.  If it was a cloudy day, I would take a short walk for the same amount of time. The objective was to get as much direct sunlight as possible in the morning, resetting my circadian clock to compensate for my late bedtime. After a week of this experiment, there were obvious improvements in my dozing off-speed as well as my quality of sleep through the night. And the best thing was — I stopped waking up absolutely exhausted. It was an awesome feeling.

My conclusion is we are meant to get up with the sun and go back to sleep when the sun disappears. This experiment is clear biological evidence of that.

If you’re hassled by sleeplessness, think in terms of how your circadian clock is working. Determine how much you are sleeping, how well, and when. Then try this experiment for yourself and watch your clock correct itself using the most natural approach to insomnia there is.

Feel free to attempt this experiment yourself and comment your results!

Subscribe below for updates!

Sleep in easier by doing this one thing

Sleep in

I know the feeling. It’s Friday night and you fall in bed wanting nothing more than a full 12 hours of sleep. But when you wake up in the morning, it is still early and you’re even more tired than when you fell asleep. It seems impossible to sleep in!

Our society is all about the nightlife. Even after the sun goes down, our eyes are bombarded by a profusion of artificial light. Night after night, we stay up after hours to engage in the thousand different activities available — or maybe you’re part of those activities because you work the late shift at your job. Regardless, this repeated behavior has caused our body clocks to go completely haywire, resulting in fatigue at times when we need to be alert. But all hope is not lost for that much needed Saturday morning snooze.

I do want to take a moment to point out that sleeping in is not wrong. People tend to get a lot of flak these days for wanting to sleep more. In our culture, sleeping seems to be equated with laziness. This makes sense in the case of someone who sleeps all day and behaves sluggish when they are awake, but for those seeking a few extra — much needed hours of sleep, there’s nothing wrong with that. Scientists have concluded the optimum amount of sleep per night is 10 hours. The average sleep per night for an adult is only 6.8 hours. So we could all use a couple more hours here and there.

 

Blue light

The percentage of sleep disorders and sleep studies has exploded since the early 2000’s. The problem has a lot to do with what they call ‘blue light’. It’s the culprit who steals your sleep right out from under you. It’s your phone, laptop, and TV which you use to entertain you at all hours of the day. This kind of artificial light reduces your melatonin levels to the point where, even if you’re tired, you won’t be able to fall asleep. Studies show that blue light can cause damage to your eyes over time.

blue

Timers

Our bodies are timers. They use a range of chemicals and hormones to tell us when to get up, go to sleep, eat, poop etc. The name for our body clock that informs us when to go to sleep and wake up is called the circadian clock. When our bodies become tired, it is because our melatonin levels have risen — which usually starts a few hours before sleep —  and our body begins to feel sleepy. Waking up is even more of a process for our body. About an hour before we wake up, our body temperature begins to drop and we begin to gain consciousness — gradually. Eventually, our body ‘s becomes fully alert and we wake up. If this happens to you early on a Saturday morning, it is pretty much too late. Of course, you might be able to fall back asleep but it will require not alerting your body further. You can’t make any noise (or hear it), move anything, or have any light shining in your eyes. I’m sure you’ve tried this — as I have — and noticed how ineffective it is. I wish there was a way to reset my body clock so that I can sleep when I’m tired, and be alert when I’m awake. Thankfully, there is a way.

 

Circadian Clock

The Circadian Clock is just one aspect of a vastly complex biological clock inside all of us. For a person’s body clock to be healthy, their melatonin levels need to rise enough to induce sleep, stay that way during the night, then decrease when the morning comes. Our clocks aren’t functioning properly if we are tired during the day and completely alert at night.  These circadian timers are highly influenced by both sunlight and artificial light — this certainly includes blue light. However, our body rhythm is also affected just as equally by our genes. 15 of them to be exact. This explains why some people are night owls and others are early birds.

Reset your clock

There are a number of different methods used for re-dialing an out of rhythm circadian clock. Among these are light boxes and hormone supplements such as melatonin. Unfortunately, these approaches don’t address the underlying problem. There is a quite obvious solution, although it is widely unpopular. If we woke up and went to sleep with the sun, our body clock would readjust themselves accordingly. The artificial light we expose our eyes to at night — and during the day as well — are to blame for our ‘out of whack’ circadian clocks. Research done at the University of Colorado suggests the solution is simply a weekend camping trip. In their study, the people who had gone camping fell asleep 1.8 hours earlier than those who had not. For a week after they returned, the participants continued to fall asleep up to 1.4 hours earlier. Although the results do fade away over time, the principal of this short term solution gives way for a more long term answer. What is the principal? The people on the camping trip rose and rested with the sun, and did not use phones or any artificial light!

Conclusion

For those who already enjoy camping, this solution will be welcomed. If you’re thinking about it, I urge you to give it a try. Go on a little weekend camping trip somewhere and just enjoy the outdoors. It may not be attractive for some, but I would venture to say that — based on these results — restraining ourselves from blue light will do wonders for our sleep. Even if we only lose our electronics for half the day — or a few hours at dusk — major revisions in our body’s circadian clock are sure to happen.

Try this out for yourself and tell me how it works for you!

5 Snacks to Stay Asleep

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry? You could get up and grab a snack, but you don’t want to cheat on that diet you’ve been so faithful to. So here are 5 foods that will help you stay asleep during the night without jeopardizing your diet plan.

Learn to fall asleep in 100 seconds or less here

1. Turkey

If you’ve had a traditional Thanksgiving meal, you know how ready for a nap you are afterward. Turkey is very filling and also has tons of tryptophan — an amino acid that helps you fall asleep by triggering production of melatonin. You don’t need to fill up on turkey ever night to sleep though. A couple other foods that are high in tryptophan include eggs, salmon, and pineapples.

 

2. Tart Cherry Juice

The science on this one is mostly the same. Eating tart cherries(or tart cherry juice) boosts your melatonin levels to help you sleep. In a study done involving tart cherries, the researchers found that those who consumed them twice a day stayed asleep and took fewer naps. If staying up in those hump hours of the day are a problem for you, maybe try a cup of tart cherry juice in the morning.

 

3. Almonds

If trail mix is one of your favorite snacks, you will love this one.  Almonds contain a ton of magnesium, a chemical that regulates reactions in your body that help you sleep. It will help improve the quality of your sleep and keep you from waking up in the middle of the night. However, be careful because taking too much magnesium can cause a reaction with some medications.

Fall asleep easier using this sleep position

4. Raisin Bread

Never mind regular bread — raisin bread is where it’s at.  Not only does it taste better but it can also help you sleep. Raisin bread is very filling but also safe to eat because it’s filled with plenty of healthy fats and carbs. Since you are less hungry, you won’t wake up as much during the night. The raisins also help lower orexin levels. Orexin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that causes you to get up and get more food. By taking that out of the equation, you will be able to stay asleep longer.

5. Yogurt and Strawberries

Yogurt is known to contain a load of calcium. Disturbances in sleep have been closely associated with calcium deficiency. Research has shown that calcium levels are higher in deeper stages of sleep. Most berries —including strawberries —  contain the vitamin B6. A deficiency in B6 has been found hinder the production of melatonin, causing lower quality sleep. To stay asleep and get much-needed rest, eat some yogurt with strawberries mixed in sometime during the day.

Check this out for more on Calcium and Magnesium: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/163169.php

If you know any other foods that aid sleep, make sure to list them in the comments below!

Also, check out this other post on how to sleep in easier on Saturday morning!

How does caffeine affects dreams?

For all of those avid coffee drinkers out there, this question has probably come up. What effect, if any, does caffeine have on my dreams?

A good majority of coffee drinkers will tell you that caffeine produces no detrimental sleep problems; they have built up a tolerance to caffeine which allows them to drink it whenever they want, and still fall asleep without much trouble. But if we look deeper we will find some underlying effects.

Caffeine is known to increase the production of a hormone called cortisol. It’s often created by the body in high-risk situations because it enhances alertness/awareness. A person not in a stressful situation when producing extra cortisol will experience negative effects like stress and anxiety. Of course, the most popular example of a low-stress situation that we engage in all the time is sleeping. For a person attempting to sleep with high levels of cortisol, the best case scenario would be a very light sleep while the worst case would be the development of insomnia.

Studies show a decrease in the quality of sleep for those who drink coffee regularly —which is definitely the case for most.  But it doesn’t always mean they don’t sleep through the night. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can abstain your body from entering deeper stages of sleep. For example, a coffee drinker could fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night, but they might only be in a very light stage of sleep. So naturally, their 8 hours of rest might only feel like 5, and their body will feel extra tired during the day in order to revert back to normal sleep patterns.

 

But what does this have to do with dreams? Well, there is a stage of sleep where you are most likely to have dreams — especially ones you recall. This stage is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and, naturally, it’s the deepest stage of sleep. Coffee drinkers — and particularly those who drink coffee right before bed — have not given their bodies a chance to get rid of the stimulant which causes their body to stay in light stages of sleep. If the body can’t enter stage 3/Delta sleep, then it won’t be able to enter REM, thus causing dreams to be prevented.

For those who take a break from coffee for a few days, vivid dreams could occur because there is no longer a stimulant blocking their passageway into REM sleep.
Has coffee effected the way that you dream in any way?