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The Art and Science of Sleeping Like a Baby

Sleeping well is both an art and a science. Yet a quarter of the population complains about lack of sleep, and one-third say they suffer from sleep disorders—those statistics come from France, so imagine what it is like elsewhere. Even if you do sleep eight hours a night, is it optimal, uninterrupted, and truly restorative sleep?

Too often, we forget that being tired all the time is not our natural state. Moreover, keeping prisoners awake for prolonged state, creating a chronic lack of sleep, is a form of torture used in the sixteenth century to extract confessions from witches—and in the twenty-first against terrorists.

The importance of good sleep

So, it is urgent to heal your sleep. The less the body is allowed to recover at night, the more your creativity and memory suffer. Inflammation rages in the body. Muscle or brain cells do not regenerate, especially when you combine lack of sleep with intense physical or mental activity. Life expectancy decreases. Your hormones get out of whack. And this list is far from exhaustive.

In a word: Sleep! Allow your brain to take a break and get rid of cellular waste. Permit your body to repair itself.

How to sleep well

If you want to be stronger, happier and more productive, focus on improving your sleep. Restful, good quality sleep is a pillar of performance. Know that quality matters more than quantity. You cannot replace deep sleep and REM sleep with a long night of light sleep. Sleep is such an epidemic right now, that we have to start getting back to a simpler time, especially in those hours before bed. And while a good night routine is essential, if we’re not tackling our stresses and anxieties, it could be all in vain. There are supplements that can help, especially modern ones like CBD oil; according to Shape.com, CBD oil can help reduce stress and anxiety which can contribute to better sleep but it’s also about getting to a base level of calm.

My three favorite hacks

Here are three of my favorite hacks to boost sleep. In the spirit of biohacking, I suggest you test them. :-)

Eat fat. Your brain is the body’s fattest organ. Healthy lipids from foods such as butter, wild fish, or coconut oil nourish your brain so it can do its job: repair itself while sleeping. Good fat also stabilizes your blood sugar and keeps you from feeling hungry. Refueling at dinner means you are less likely to crave a midnight snack. Before going to bed, add up to 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to some herbal tea. And why not a spoonful of honey, preferably raw and unfiltered?

Unplug your devices. Of course … you all know that you have to turn off your devices. Blue light after sunset disrupts our circadian rhythm and prevents the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells your body that it’s time to sleep. Be careful, screens are not the only source of unwanted light—streetlights and LED bulbs often have the same effect. To really protect your sleeping hours from blue light:

  • Wear blue-light blocking glasses at the end of the day.

  • Use candles or red lights at home at night.

  • No screen (no phone, no tablet, no TV) 3 hours before sleep (unless you use glasses that block harmful light).

  • Unplug devices or cover all the small lights in the room (chargers, alarm clocks, …)

  • Close the shutters or use blackout curtains.

Unplug yourself. That is, meditate. Science shows that meditation significantly reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation allows you to become aware of your thoughts and impulses, and with this awareness, you can tell the difference between useful and destructive thinking. Meditation also reconnects your brain, strengthening certain neuronal pathways that calm your nervous system. Start meditating for nine minutes (that’s all you need to make an impact). Do it every day. Gradually increase to 20 minutes. If you do not know how to do meditate, try a meditation class or find an app.

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Anne Trager
Anne Tragerhttps://www.annetrager.com/
Embrace the future you choose. Rediscover your spontaneity, your focus, and your life balance. Reboot. Rebalance. Reconnect. Be… more. These are the values I believe in and share with others. I’m a well-being junkie—delicious healthy seasonal food, dream-filled sleep, martial arts, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and more. I’m so obsessed with the whole human, each part of an individual ecosystem, that I trained in cutting-edge techniques to optimize human potential and have turned them into a way of life. As a Certified Human Potential Coach, I provide premium life coaching combined with front-line insights from positive psychology, nutrition, biohacking, and neuroscience. I apply the MIME principle—maximum impact, minimum effort—certain that life is meant to be lived fully. Let’s be clear: I have an unbridled aspiration to do just that. I explore both science and traditional knowledge, seeking what nourishes our capacity to create a positive and optimistic future.

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9 CONVERSATIONS

  1. This was a very meaningful article to me as I suffer from both insomnia as well as sleep apnea. I have made matters worse by not having used my c-pap machine in a few years. My computer and my cell phone are not in the same room with me when I go to sleep. Even if I turned both off hours before I go to sleep it would not matter. It takes 20mg of Doxepin to make me fall asleep. Even that takes a while to work.

      • Anne,
        Thank you for your comments and your additional suggestions. I see two different medical professionals for these conditions. For the sleep apnea, I was supposed to see my respiratory doctor this week but he took his vacation instead. I will see him next month to have a new sleep study setup. For my insomnia, my phone can be a tremendous help as I go to the YouTube application and listen to very quiet music with poetic lyrics. it’s a struggle but there is nobody that is responsible for this but me. With work, I got into the habit fo working until sometimes 4:00 am. All of this has caught up with me.

          • I have no doubt it is possible if I change a lot of my ways. In terms of treatment for both conditions, I will always rely on the advice given to me by my doctors. My father (of blessed memory) was a Medical Librarian who did research for many doctors. From that, I have only relied on traditional medicine. Thank you, Anne, for your caring and offers of help both of which were very kind gestures on your part.

  2. How about three out of five, Anne? I am mindful of the last three; I actually cover the stove clock light because it’s so bright, and I live in a tiny 525 s.f. house, so everything is visible. And because my neighbors somehow forget to turn off their outside lights unless I remind them with a text, I finally did buy blackout curtains that are very helpful, except in summer, when I want to be able to open my windows.

    I guess I could find/buy blue light-blocking glasses … hadn’t considered that. Even for watching TV? I do often read rather than watch TV, but I can’t say I do that every night.

    Excellent info and food for thought!

    • Hi, Susan. Thanks for your comment. Did your sleep improve once you got blackout curtains? Technically, when you watch the TV you are not getting as much blue light as with a handheld device. That said, our circadian rhythm is designed for the reds of a sunset in the evening and then darkness for sleep. Even white light in the bathroom when you brush your teeth signals that it’s noon and not bedtime, so I put on my blue-blocking glasses when the sunsets, no matter what I’m doing.

      • Yes, it did, Anne; I tend to like it really, really dark. And my next door neighbors — nice enough people otherwise — often keep their lights on all night. And their “front” door is on the side of their house, not even 10′ from my bedroom windows, so their light there really matters.

        I live in a community started in the 1930s as tents, then shacks, then tiny houses, and some of our small neighborhoods have homes very close, as are the ones in my little area.

        And I hadn’t known about the bathroom light thing; something else to consider! Thanks, Anne!

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