Before getting into the topics I promised last week, a couple of important points.
Most of us think that if we have a sleepless night, we can compensate for this the next day by getting more than our usual amount of sleep. NOT SO.
In a research project participants underwent two nights of sleep deprivation followed by two nights of recovery sleep; this was the test group.
The control group was made up of well-rested people who had slept normally.
Both groups were given a decision making test. The well-rested control group performed much better than the test group even though the test group had had two nights of RECOVERY sleep.
The study’s lead author stated that:
“It wasn’t just that sleep-deprived people were slow to recover… Their ability to take in new information and adjust was completely devastated.”
So keep this in mind when you’re out partying on Saturday night. Monday will be worse than usual, even though you slept through most of Sunday.
Another thing most people seem to believe is that over-sleeping is OK. WRONG.
Without going into details, if you sleep longer than the normal range, which is said to be between 7 and 9 hours, you open yourself up to the following risks:
*Headaches caused by brain impairment
*Stiffness caused by lactic acid buildup in the joints
*Loss of fertility
So, how does one determine how many hours of sleep is optimal for them? Not only does the amount of sleep needed differ from person to person, it also seems to decrease with age.
First, some basic ground rules to determine how many hours of sleep you need:
- Try to go to bed every night at about the same time and get up at the same time every morning. Even on weekends.
- Try not to go to bed later than 10:30 – 11:00
- Experiment with different durations of sleep. Do one week with 11:00 – 7:00 (8hours), next 11:00 – 6:30 (7.5 hours), next 11:00 – 6:00 (7 hours), etc.
- See how well rested you feel with each duration.
- Look at other signs. For example, if I’ve overslept a bit, I get sleepy after lunch.
- What time do you get sleepy at night?
I’m sure you can think of additional criteria to determine your optimal sleep time.
There are also “modern” ways to help you determine this. I, for example, use a gadget I put around my wrist, which vibrates to wake JUST me up, and analyzes my sleep. How many hours I slept, how many times I woke up, the quality of my sleep, etc. The window below is from the image on my iPhone yesterday. As you can see, 7h and 4m seems to be quite adequate for me.
A gadget called LARK generated the above picture. You can also look into FitBit, Microsoft Band and an interesting application that wakes you up at the optimal time in your sleep cycle called SleepCycle.
The last “method” of trying to time your sleep has to do with the three 30 minute cycles that we supposedly go through when we sleep:
*30 minutes light sleep
*30 minutes seep sleep
*30 minutes light sleep
It is claimed that you should wake-up at the end of the third 30-minute (light) sleep cycle.
So let’s say you want to wake-up at 7:00 in the morning. You go back in time in 90 minute tranches. For example, to wake-up at 7:00 in the morning, you can go to bed (sleep)
*at 1:30 and get 5.5 hours of sleep,
*at 11:30 and get 7.5 hours of sleep,
*at 9:30 and get 9.5 hours of sleep.
If you are out of options, you can give this a try. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but what’s the harm.
I’ve gotten a bit carried away; NONE OF THE ABOVE MEANS ANYTHING IF YOU FIRST DON’T ABIDE BY THE BASIC RULES OF GETTING A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP. These include being out in the sun, what to, and not to, eat/drink, your sleeping environment, watching TV, reading from your iPad, etc. I’ll go over these in detail below.
These are healthy sleep guidelines, that those of you having sleep problems should seriously consider implementing.
* Stop watching TV or using your computer (and iPad) at least an hour before going to bed.
* Make sure you get BRIGHT sun exposure regularly, particularly in the morning. This is important for optimizing melatonin production and for syncing our circadian clocks-yes we have more than one. When they are in sync, the body performs at optimal levels.
* Stop consuming alcohol or caffeine or food at least an hour before going to bed, better still two hours.
* Eat a handful of pumpkin seeds an hour before going to bed. A certain protein in pumpkin seeds helps in the production of melatonin. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea will also prepare you for a sound sleep.
*Install a low-wattage yellow, orange, or red light bulb for navigation at night. Remember minimizing “taking a pee” disruptions discussed last week.
*Your bedroom temperature should be 60 to 68 degrees F (15.5 to 20 degrees Celsius).
* Be mindful of electromagnetic fields in your bedroom: no mobile phones, tablets, electronic clocks, etc.
* If you take melatonin supplements, stop taking them periodically because your body also produces this hormone and if you keep taking it the body will stop its own production.
* Take a hot bath 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This will increase your core body temperature, and when you get out it abruptly drops, signaling your body that you are ready to sleep.
* Recall my post on MEDITATION. Meditate before you go to bed in order to relax and calm your body and mind. You will see that, a good night’s sleep will be much easier to get, after a 15-20 minute meditation séance.
*EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE, more commonly known as TAPPING, is the subject of next week’s post. The medical community has accepted this technique as a bone fide treatment method for a diverse list of problems, ranging from psychological problems, to loosing weight, to quitting smoking, etc. Sleep problems are also addressed by this technique.
So, just a heads-up for next week.
Try implementing the above guidelines, if you want to sleep like my Uzi (Uzay) pictured above. He is the joy in our life, son of our niece Melis and our son-in-law Talat.