This is my bedside, so far. I have that hideously orange towel to absorb the sweat from my gallon jug filled with ice, so that if I am thirsty, I have very cold water (speeds up metabolism) & I do not have to get up, but also, so that, by morning, the urge to urinate helps me to get out of bed & moving. That is just the 1st of my strategies to balance the power of my circadian rhythm.
Here are 9 more:
1. Program my brain to be sleepy, by the associative properties of a routine. (sensory input of: pajamas, dim lights, brush teeth, wash face). I have noticed, that I am often too tired to muster the motivation to brush my teeth & wash my face before bed, so my new strategy here is to dim the lights 2 hours before I want to be asleep & wash my face & brush my teeth 1 hour before my target sleep time, before I am too sleepy. This has the added benefit of having the associated sensations triggering my brain to unwind & get sleepy. It’s fascinating how quickly I’ve come to crave the feeling of washing my face & how it relaxes me.
2. Avoid the blue light of my electronics (phone, ipad, tv, etc.) at night Exposure to blue light (like the sky) before sleep distorts your natural (circadian) rhythm and causes an inability to fall asleep. Light pollution has even been linked to breast , prostate 7 other types of cancers.
The cause is the photoreceptor in your eyes, called Melanopsin. This receptor is sensitive to a narrow band of blue light in the 460-480nm range which suppresses your pineal gland’s Melatonin production – a hormone not just responsible for your healthy sleep-wake cycles, but also a powerful antioxidant with strong improving influence over ADHD, obesity, thyroid functioning, cancer, depression, learning & memory —>The list goes on, I am clear that I want my body to produce melatonin. Some supplemental melatonin users report an increase in vivid dreaming. Extremely high doses of melatonin (50 mg) dramatically increased REM time and dream activity (* I may experiment with this & report back later)
In 2001 it was discovered that it is only the blue component in ordinary white light that causes melatonin suppression. So, blocking just the blue light is sufficient, versus all light.
I found blue-blocking gel covers for my iPad (Sticky filters by SleepShield fit over your laptop, smartphone and tablet to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes at night)
& special amber light bulbs. & I downloaded a very cool app called Twighlight.
The Twilight app makes your device screen adapt to the time of the day. It filters the blue spectrum on your phone or tablet after sunset and protects your eyes with a soft and pleasant red filter. The filter intensity is smoothly adjusted to the sun cycle based on your local sunset and sunrise times.
Then I had an idea! I bought amber safety glasses! By wearing $8 UV coated amber safety glasses I can enjoy normal evening activities (TV, Computer) while maximizing melatonin production. Again, when my evening becomes amber, this is another sensory input switch for my brain & body to wind down.
3. Bright Days & Dark nights: The more I study the chronobiology of humans, the more important I understand that it is critical to have complete blackness when sleeping & to get sunlight on my skin & into my eyes as early as possible every morning. (Vitamin D, Grehlin, Leptin, etc.)
My strategy here, is:
—I removed all unnecessary light sources (blinking electronics, glowing clock, etc.) & got a dim projection clock that projects the time on the ceiling corner, so when if I wake & wonder what time it is, I do not have to move to see, but there is no light pollution, interfering with my quality of sleep.
—I’ve swapped out my night light for an very low light red LED one that only comes on by a motion detector, so i put it near the floor, so it only illuminates my feet & where I step.
—I bought a comfortable eye mask. I bought an alarm clock which mimics sunrise & sunset wavelengths of light. & I have resolved to watch the sunrise every morning.
— My Favorite! new gadget is my Philips Wake-up light! I set my alarm & it mimics the sunrise & slowly increases its light from a dim burnt umber through amber to a sunny yellow & at the time of my alarm it is a bright happy white. The alarms are actual birds chirping! The principle is that our bodies release chemicals and start the process of waking up when the sun hits our eyelids, before you’ve consciously woken up.. This new version also has a dusk simulator, with gradual decreasing light to help you enter the land of nod.
4. Consistent Sleep Schedule on the 90 min cycle: The main thing is to have a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends & holidays. I live a very social life & going to bed too early would be met with conflict. But I also want to start working out & reading, researching, & writing before the onslaught of interruptions of my workday begin, so i need to get up early if I want some quiet, reflective time. & now that I know that all of my biological systems are cued by light, I want to see the sunrise every morning. Also, I like the idea of seeing the sunrise every morning.
The earliest sunrises in 2015 will be June 5th-June 21th, the 21st being the summer solstice of course, at 6:09am.
So I will want a habit of waking up at 6am.
So I aim to be home no later than 10pm to get ready for bed, so that I am in bed to read by 10:30pm, & asleep by 11pm. It is important to be asleep by 11pm, because the body creates a cortisol surge to keep you up & alert after 11pm. This means, I can be up, dressed, have a little quiet time to enjoy the sunrise, write & start my day off without the hormonal & mood impact of dodging bullets 1st thing! Every day can start off with peace & intention.
Ideally, I will wake up at the end of a 90 min cycle, subjects report feeling much more refreshed when waking up nearer the 90min mark, the time it takes the brain to go through all the stages of sleep. So, I’ll shoot for being in bed by 10pm & falling asleep while reading around 10:30, would have me wake up at 6am, at the end of a 90 min cycle, 7.5hrs later.
As long as I am asleep by 11pm & up at 6am…
This gives me 7 hours of continuous sleep. To be happiest, researchers suggest 7 hours total sleep per 24 hours (not the prescribed 8-10hours, which causes the over-production of depressogenic substances in the brain.)
— According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Average American gets 8 hours & 45 min sleep per 24hrs, So I have almost 2 extra hours to be productive over the average person!
If I ever end up staying up late (I get really excited by what I read sometimes or I’m just being bad & not yet done having fun) or have to get up earlier, it is better to get 6 hours, say 11pm – 5am, or midnight to 6am, so that it is a multiple of the 90 min cycle. The extra 15min snooze will only create grogginess & won’t do anything to have me feel better rested.
5. Supplements: 5-HTP, L-theanine, melatonin, GABA, L-tyrosine, huperzine A, valerian root. It is also better to supplement calcium & magnesium at night. I’ll post more about this later, as this is a very important subject. For now, I will just say that this gives my brain everything it need for me to wake-up smarter than I went to sleep.
6. No Caffeine after 2:30pm.
After 9pm: No alcohol greater than 4oz, No exercise, No worrying, No working, No eating after 9pm ( with the exception of a lite evening snack of melatonin rich foods like cherries). Everything we consume has a bio-chemical effect. It takes 2 hours for the stomach to completely empty. Caffeine & alcohol in particular, adversely disrupt sleep patterns.
7. I sleep on my right side to make it easier on my spine & heart.
8. I have a CPAP machine, (Controlled Positive Air Pressure) that I don’t necessarily need, but it facilitates proper breathing while sleeping & prevents my airways from becoming so relaxed that they collapses & deprive my brain & body of oxygen, by inflating my airways slightly & comfortably with air. This prevents the potential cumulative brain damage from all the times a person stops breathing per night. I also, have a Snore Shield chin strap, to gently keep my mouth closed & force me to breathe through the CPAP.
9. I bought a Smart Pillow, ergonomically designed to facilitate proper neck posture while sleeping.