FIVE TRICKS TO SLEEP BETTER
Little or no sleep has ruinous effects on the brain.
Rest/Sleep is an evolutionary mechanism that has been developing in man since the beginning of time. The cycles through which we rest or remain awake are delicately synchronized with the cycles of the sun to ensure that we rest during the night and that we remain awake during the day when there is sunlight.
There is some consensus among the scientific community that the human body needs a regular break to function properly in the same way that it is necessary to eat and drink water regularly to survive.
Several studies have found that the brain of a person who spends six (6) days without sleep has traits similar to those of senile people with pre-dementia and Alzheimer’s. The most paradigmatic example about the effects of sleep deprivation is found in the case of the young Randy Gardner who in the 60’s and at age 17 obtained the world record after staying 11 days without sleep. It is the only documented case to date of someone who has spent so much time awake without the support of drugs or stimulants. But the interesting thing is to observe the description of the neurologist David Linden detailing the symptoms observed in the young Gardner during his experiment: “During this period, Gardner at first became moody, His gestures became more awkward and his mood was more irritable. As time progressed, he began to have delusions (he said he was a famous professional football player), then had visual hallucinations (saw a path that crossed a forest that stretched right where his bedroom ended), paranoias and an absence Full of mental concentration. ”
It is not difficult to conclude that if we want to maximize our cognitive performance, sleeping efficiently becomes essential.
But rest patterns, although regulated autonomously by the aforementioned circadian cycles, are also influenced by environmental factors.
People living near the Ecuadorian line not only sleep during the night but also during daytime hours where the sun is so strong that it makes working in broad daylight difficult. As humans migrated to latitudes far from Ecuador their resting patterns were also modified to take advantage of the availability of sunlight.
With the advent of modernity and life in the big cities, there are other elements that conspire against our internal biological clock and against our rest patterns. The vertiginous pace of modern life increases our waking state by staying plugged in and online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To this must be added the greater instability of modern life, the disordered rhythm of life and in general the higher levels of stress that affect the quality of sleep through the greater release of hormones such as cortisol that inhibit the efficacy of melatonin , A hormone that is released by the pineal gland and helps us to fall asleep.
What do the statistics say? The empirical evidence reveals that only 7% of the population manages to sleep more than 8 hours per day. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that about 60% of people have trouble falling asleep due to insufficient rest or poor quality, insomnia, nighttime interruptions, etc. These problems seem to affect women more than men.
But this does not have to be like this.
Here are some very effective strategies that have been used over and over by people across the world with tangible benefits over the quality of their rest. Keep in mind that it is necessary to perform at least 3 of these 5 hacks to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Melatonin is a hormone that together with other chemicals helps us to become drowsy and remain asleep. On the contrary, when we are stressed we usually release hormones like cortisol that increase our alertness and reduce the effect of melatonin, inhibiting it in many cases.
The more relaxed (less cortisol) we are at bedtime, the better the quality of our rest. But statistics suggest that most people do not use relaxation technique. Even when we love many of us, we are not experts in these techniques. Fortunately there are cellphone applications such as Headspace or Calm that offer us 10 minute meditation exercises. Simply connect the headset to your mobile phone and follow the instructions.
The meditation and relaxation exercises have tangible effects on our blood pressure, respiratory rate, heart rate and in just 10 minutes a day is possible to obtain improvements in these markers.
For those who are skeptical of meditation there is another alternative called “ binaural sounds” or “isochronous tones” that are nothing more than audio tracks that have certain sound frequencies embedded that promote the activity of certain “brain waves” associated with relaxation . Such audio tracks usually include sounds of the ocean’s nature to make them more enjoyable. This makes it ideal for most of us as there is nothing to do! Just listen to the nice melodies for about 15 minutes … and voila!
CLEAN THE ROOM
Evidence suggests that the quality of rest gets worse when in the room we have extreme temperatures. If it is very hot or if it is very cold, we will not sleep well. The first measure to sanitize the room is to avoid extreme temperatures.
The same goes for the sounds. These can be a source of distraction and insomnia. For that reason it is advisable to sleep with the door and the windows closed.
But the most important recommendation is undoubtedly to sleep with the room completely dark. What level of darkness is optimal? There is a very simple rule: if when we go to sleep we can see our hand, then there is still a lot of light. Try to close the blinds well and when it is not possible a home trick is to use black consortium bags to seal the windows of any type of incoming light.
The darker the room the more melatonin they will produce and the better the quality of their rest will be.
PROTECTION AGAINST CELL, COMPUTER AND TV SCREENS
One recommendation that you have probably heard is not watching TV or the screen of your cell phone / notebook until two hours before going to sleep. But being honest … how many of us do this? I clearly do not.
But for this there is also a hack.
There is an application called F.lux that can be installed in the PC, notebook and even in the cell phone and that will be in charge of changing the tone of the screen towards the night emulating the cycle of the sun. From 19 hours the screen will have a pink hue to minimize blue light emissions that are neuro-expressive.
While F.lux is an excellent alternative (it is also free) is not optimal as it does not block all sources of artificial light.
To make sure that the receptors in our eyes do not receive any artificial light that inhibits the production of melatonin, the best alternative is to use some kind of visual protection like lenses with selective filters that block the blue light emissions from the screens. The Optical companies offer these types of lenses at a very reasonable price. These lenses also eliminate eye burning, visual fatigue and headaches making it an excellent choice for those who spend a lot of time in front of a screen.
SUPPLEMENTS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF SLEEP
If you do not manage to benefit from relaxation, if you also do not clean your room and do not want to spend on lenses with therapeutic effects then you may need something even simpler, And nothing simpler than taking a pill before going to sleep.
In this sense there are natural alternatives and synthetic alternatives.
On the side of the natural options a tremendously effective hack is to take 500 mg of magnesium (ie, Magnesium Citrate) or some supplement with Valerian or L-Theanine. The latter is very effective as it encourages the production of brain waves associated with relaxation. The l-theanine is the amino acid found in green tea but to obtain a weight that bride tangible effects it is always advisable to obtain it from a natural tablet.
Going to the synthetic alternative, an excellent choice is melatonin tablets. While the bio-available version, which is chemically similar to the melatonin produced by our own body is practically not available, almost all pharmacies sell melatonin in its synthetic version. The weight usually comes in tablets of 3 mg which in my experience is higher than necessary. You can always break the tablet in half and take 1.5 mg which will suffice and avoid feeling dull in the morning. And one last caveat: there are studies that have found that chronic intake of melatonin causes a decline in testosterone levels in the long term, whereby melatonin must be ingested for short periods of time (no more than 3 or 4 months Per year).
USES THE COACH.ME APP TO SECURE A REST ROUTINE
We all suffer from modernity to a greater or lesser degree. And we all find it difficult to define a fixed time to go to sleep. To make matters worse, there are people who are “nocturnal” and enjoy having certain activities (ie reading, writing) during the night.
But for those things of nature the optimal time to go to sleep is before 11 at night. Past that threshold our body interprets that there is some reason why we are not resting. If we remain awake after such a time, the body will begin releasing cortisol and inhibit the production of melatonin to help us stay awake.
We can avoid this by establishing a fixed rest routine around 11PM. But how can we ensure that we are going to comply with this routine? The application Coach.me is an aid super recommendable because it allows defining daily routines and through a system of alerts and rewards helps us to fulfill these objectives. The logic behind the application is the idea of ”social conditioning.” Our network of contacts can see if we are meeting or not with the goals that we upload to Coach.me and this will help us to effectively check the application.
See also: How to feed the soul