How to restore healing sleep
Since insomnia is one of our population's most common medical issues, I would like to share some helpful approaches. They essentially fall into two categories:
This is because the purpose of sleep is not just to rest the body; rather, it is to allow the brain to conduct a variety of complex functions that restore it. When you sedate the central nervous system, you also sedate its ability to restore itself. Because of this, individuals who regularly take sleeping pills demonstrate many signs of chronic sleep deprivation.
Note: Alcohol also is a sedative that disrupts the sleep cycle.
Melatonin is the one sleep aid that both effectively puts you to sleep and does not interfere with your sleep cycle. It also helps the brain to detoxify and restore itself.
In addition to these items, people often have sleep apnoea (which can be approached in various ways, such as with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), losing weight, a dental appliance, or restoring zeta potential. Sleep apnoea must be addressed, but if you have the option, avoid going the CPAP route. Additionally, some individuals with disrupted sleep cycles (which lead to their sleep not being restorative, something commonly observed in fibromyalgia), who are not suffering from sleep apnea, benefit from oxygen at night as it normalizes their ability to enter the restorative phase of sleep.
Here are some helpful tips:
•Your bedroom should be a place that is psychologically associated with sleeping. Sleep hygienists generally advise minimizing the number of non-sleep-related things in your bedroom (e.g. a TV or desktop computer) and avoiding intellectual activity or social media in your bedroom.
•It helps to have a set time to wake up and sleep each day. The body adapts to a rhythm, and if you keep changing that time, the body has much greater difficulty falling asleep.
•Allow your mind to wind down before sleep. If you can give yourself at least a 1-2 hour buffer between screens and other mentally taxing or emotionally stressful activities before sleep, that is ideal.
•Do not spend too long on a computer or sitting at one time. At some point, you will pass a critical threshold where it becomes quite difficult to sleep (which I acknowledge can often be challenging—this has happened to me quite a few times while working on various research topics).
•Having more physical activity during the day often makes it much easier for people to fall asleep at night. I believe this is primarily due to the increased fluid circulation in the body those activities create.
•Use good earplugs at night. Silicon ones are the best option, and many people report these dramatically increase their ability to sleep.
•Lastly, while this is not behavioral per say, for many individuals, it can take a lot of time to clear caffeine from their bodies, so foods like coffee should not be eaten later in the day (and with exceptionally sensitive people, other things with small amounts of caffeine like chocolate must not be eaten later in the day either).
•Your brain evolved to have the light present in the early morning (blue) wake you up, while the light present at the end of the day (red) signals you to sleep. Since we are continually exposed to blue light (most electronic screens give them off—something many believe was done intentionally to make them addictive), we have widespread issues with sleep cycle dysregulation (as blue light stops the pineal gland from secreting melatonin).
To address this problem, people suggest:
•Using blue light filters on all electronic devices; with cell phones, a variety of apps exist (however, the default settings in the phones typically do not remove blue light from the screens). You can also put blue light-blocking material directly on screens.
•Change the lighting in your house. Most people believe halogen lamps and incandescent bulbs are the best options, while fluorescents are the worst, followed by LEDs with a high amount of blue light. Some people like to use red lights in the house at night too.
•Consider wearing blue light-blocking glasses, especially at night.
•Do everything you can to reduce the light in your room (e.g., no electronics that blink) and, if possible lightproof everything (e.g., use effective blackout curtains that can entirely block the light in each room).
•Many people have found that having a hot bath or shower before sleep helps them fall asleep.
•It becomes cooler at night, so the body is wired to take coldness in the environment (including the cooling which follows a brief shower) as a signal to sleep. I think this point is significant because many people cannot sleep in rooms that are too hot. For the most part sleeping in cooler temperatures is better (interestingly, the brain also drops in temperature as you sleep).
Although this does not exist within the conventional sleep hygiene literature, reducing EMFs in your sleeping space can be immensely beneficial for sleep.
Some of the best strategies are:
•Do not live near a source of high EMFs (e.g., a cell tower or lots of WiFi routers).
•Turn off your WiFi at night (or get rid of it entirely).
•Flip your circuit breaker at night.
•Put your phone on airplane mode in the bedroom (this is also critical for sleep hygiene).
•Sleep under an effective EMF shielding canopy for your bedroom (the cheaper ones don’t work as well).
•Consider painting your room with EMF shielding paint (only do this if it is a serious concern for you).
•Get an EMF meter (the ones that detect WiFi and Cell Phone radiation are more expensive than the generic ones) to see if you can identify any major EMF sources.
Each of these can help, and the benefits vs. hassle of each is something each person must determine for themselves.