Naughty Sleep, Night after Night, Part 3.

Naughty Sleep, Night after Night, Part 3.

We’re in the home stretch this week…rounding the last curve and running straight towards incredibly naughty sleep night after night after night.

If you missed the first two installments of this three part series on hacking sleep and overcoming insomnia, here’s Part 1 and Part 2. 

(Warning, part 2 is a bit of a buzz-kill.  It works, and  it’s only fun if you focus on what your get rather than what you might have to give up).

This week is all about adding and nothing about taking away.  Plus there’s one item on the list that might be a work-around to something you had to say goodbye to last week.

NOTE:  Solving insomnia is a work-in-progress

This week is all about experimenting to see what works best for you.  Some of the things on the list will profoundly affect your sleep.  Others, not so much.

It just depends on the sleep gods.

So feel free to take what works, make it part of your routine, and leave what doesn’t work for the next person.

Here’s your official try it and see list for better sleep:

 

1.  Adaptogenic herbs. 

Adaptogens are herbs that help the body adapt to stress.  They’re considered to be safe (i.e. impossible to OD on) and have been studied and used for thousands of years in eastern and ayurvedic medicine.  You don’t have to take them forever.  Only as long as the offending issue persists.  So, when your sleep improves, you can stop taking the herbs.

The three I took were Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola (aka Bramhi Brain) and Sleep Easy, all from LifeSpa.  I took them for a month.  Then again a couple of months later when I back-slid for another month.

Listen to Dr. Douillard’s podcast again for ideas on how and when to take.

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2.  Magnesium

Up to 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium, mainly because our soil is depleted and our plants are magnesium deficient.

Among other things, magnesium deficiency is associated with insomnia. 

The good news is that magnesium supplements are pretty inexpensive and easy to come by.  I like Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium Anti Stress, Orignal, which mixes into water which you drink before bed.

There are also lotions and gels you can apply.  I tested one once in a natural food store and found it funky feeling.  But you might dig it if you’d rather not drink a lot of liquid before bed.   For obvious reasons.

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3.  Sauna, hot tub or just a hot bath with epsom salts or magnesium bath salts

Don’t you get deliciously drowsy just thinking about getting into a sauna before bed?  If only I had one at home.  Sadly, I don’t, so a hot bath with epsom salts and essential oils is the next best thing.

Speaking of which…

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4.  Essential oils.  

Sleep as good as you smell!

Best singles:  Lavender, Valerian , Bergamot, Ylang ylang, Cypress, Marjoram,  Roman Chamomile.

Best blends:  Citrus FreshPeace & Calming, Stress Away.

Diffuse.  Add to your hot bath.  Or simple rub liberally on feet and ears before going to sleep. 

Best DIY recipe:  6 drops Citrus Fresh + 6 drops Lavender + 6 drops Peace & Calming.  Combine, then apply to big toes, feet, around navel and to back of neck.

The links are to my favorite brand, Young Living.  I use these oils every day and never buy any other brand.  You won’t find Young Living in a store since it’s a direct sales company.  Here’s more information about signing up so you can experience these incredible oils.

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5.  Blue blocker glasses (Swannies, Blutech)

This is your work-around if you absolutely, positively can not give up your iPad before bed.

There are several brands of eyewear that block the offending blue light of computer screens that leave us wide awake and unable to fall asleep until well after the cows come home.

The Swannies are just basic lenses.  Good for the youngsters whose vision is still intact.

I invested in Blutech lenses through my optician.  So I can block the blue light and still see to read.  Otherwise, what would be the point. 

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6.  Consistent daily exercise, especially outside.

Exercise is pretty much a panacea for everything, including sleep.

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7.  Lower the temperature of your home at bedtime.

Think about how night works.  The sun goes down and the temperature of the ambient air begins to drop.

Now think of this as sending a signal to your body that it’s time to crawl into your cave and under your fur blankies and get some shut eye.  We are, after all, diurnal creatures who are designed to hunt and gather by the light of the sun.  When we can see.

Recreate this temperature situation at home with modern conveniences like windows and air conditioners.  As the sun starts going down, start turning down the thermostat.  By the time you get into bed, the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit.

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8.  Wool mattress toppers

Wool is the adaptogen of fiber. 

It keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer because of its natural breathability.

This temperature regulation means you get up to 25% more time in the deep, regenerative sleep stages.

Other pros:  It’s naturally hypoallergenic, it softens up a firm mattress, so you get to customize your softness levels to your taste.  They last a really long time—10-15 years.

Potential con:  It smells like a barn.  I happen to like the smell, but I’m weird like that.  It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely there.

There are tons of brands and suppliers out there.  I bought mine from Cuddle Ewe.  They sent a free pillow, which I love.

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9.  Cultivate different nighttime activities you can do after the sun goes down.

This might be the most difficult recommendation on the list because it does require some serious habit change skills.  And I’ve definitely not mastered this because I love Netflix and American Ninja Warrior.

But consider what else you might do instead of tool around on Facebook or binge-watch Scandal.

What might you do that requires low light, maybe even candle light?

Make art, make love, make conversation on the back porch with friends.

Take an evening stroll.  Take that hot bath.

My idea list is short because I haven’t put in enough effort to change my own nighttime routine habits.  So, I’d appreciate any suggestions. 

I do know that my eyes adjust quickly to low light levels, so there’s definitely more experimenting to do in this area.

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So there you have nine more things to experiment with to see what will work for you to send you deep into la-la land.

Keep experimenting (definition of bio-hacker) until you find the right combination of adding stuff and taking other stuff away.

Then commit to those things for at least a month and see for yourself if better sleep translates to

  • better function,
  • more clarity,
  • less grumpiness,
  • whatever it is you hope to gain by sleeping better. 

Also keep in mind the less immediate health benefits of better sleep:

  • helping maintain a healthy weight
  • keeping hormones in balance, adrenals charged, inflammation in check.

Gratification may not be instant for some things.  But it will be instant enough for other things to turn you into a true believer and a raving fan of deep, regenerating and slightly naughty sleep.

Do you have any other sleep hacks that have worked for you?  Leave a comment and share what lets you get the sleep you need.

 

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