General Wellness

How I Radically Adjusted My Sleep Cycle Part 1

The first question to ask yourself is do you even want to sleep? Are you fighting the idea of sleeping? It seems like an odd question but I know I did. Even when I was finally prescribed Ambien for my insomnia, I found myself waiting to take it.

 

Like a little kid who’d fight his own bedtime, I’d delay taking the pill until after I finished reading an article, watching FB/Youtube vids, or iMessaging into the late hours of the night. By the time I was ready it was 1-2am, no different than had I not taken anything.

 

Studies have shown that losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per day on weekdays can have long-term consequences for body weight and metabolism, a new study finds. Professor Shahrad Taheri, MBBS, PhD, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar.

 

What’s worse, is this can cause you to have increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can cause more hunger cravings, putting you at an increased chance of ordering that late night Dominoes vs. getting much needed Z’s.

 

“We used to think you needed a significant amount of sleep deprivation for it to have an effect on weight. It turns out that’s not true,” says Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep specialist and author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep. Just 30 minutes of sleep loss could make you more likely to gain.

 

This was when I began to understand that things like “sleep hygiene” was much more important than people realized. I tried a variety of things I’d read about online and after some trial and error, finally came across the perfect combo of key bedroom items to keep me asleep longer.

Shown: Everyone after 10pm

Blue Lights Galore

I was never a fan of having a TV in my bedroom. To quote Scott Adams, “Your bedroom should be used for only two things: sleeping and sex.” The problem today however doesn’t seem to be TV’s but cell phones and laptops instead. 

Constantly fidgeting with iPhones/Androids, looking up memes, getting outraged over the latest political event, or catching up on the latest Netflix/HBO series episodes, keep our minds constantly stimulated. 

Research has shown that constant blue light exposure suppresses the body’s melatonin production, preventing your body from knowing when to start getting tired. Never-mind the fact that it can contribute to diabetes and even cancer.

Applications like f.lux can help eliminate exposure for those who just can’t climb into bed without their laptops/phones (Me). This simple addition greatly helped me start to doze off sooner (midnight vs 3am).  

Create A Chilly Cave

My Personal Bat Cave

Anyone who’s ever slept next to someone that doubles as a human furnace knows how tough it can be to fall asleep. No one likes to be a sweaty, sticky mess when lying in bed and for good reason.

 Research has shown that cooler body temperatures help contribute to a person falling asleep faster. Dropping the temp to 68-70 degrees could help you doze off more easily. 

 

Personally, I turn my room into a walk-in freezer (to the dismay of many previous girlfriends). A/C’ on blast at 68 degrees AND I have a fan blowing on me (more on that later). Excessive? Probably. Effective? You bet your cold buns it is. 

 

Light pollution from the outside is also going to be an issue. Most street lamps are a pasty orange or blue (blue light strikes again!), casting an unpleasant glow into the room if you’re window’s nearby. 

 

Black out curtains Las Vegas-style are ideal, but if you don’t feel like redecorating, a simple night cap over your eyes works too, Hell, sometimes I’ll just throw a t shirt over my face and call it a night. Combined, these things create your own personal cave, ideal for quieting the mind. 

 The Silence Is Deafening

Speaking of quiet, I absolutely cannot sleep in a silent room. The lack of noise only means my mind will try to fill it in with own ramblings. You also hear any little creak, dog bark, or conversation/argument outside, depending on how noisy your neighborhood is.

 

 During college, me and my roommate lived across the street from section 8 housing (couldn’t say no to $600/mo!) in Los Angeles, which was always a blast during the wee hours of night. 

 

One of the first things we did was buy a swamp cooler for the rooms, because little did we know, the “apartment” was actually just an uninsulated attic turned 4-bedroom death trap of heat. In addition to the lifesaving cold air, I discovered the noise from the cooler managed to drown out all the noise coming from the outside, allowing me to doze off easier.

 

Once I finally moved out, I kept up the habit of buying a little cheap $20 box fan to keep by my bed in order to drown out the sound and serve as my “white noise” machine.

 

 

90% of the time, these 3 things would help me fall asleep faster 

But of course, for those 10% days where nothing worked, what then? For these types of rough nights, I resort to more dramatic methods.

 

 In my follow-up article, I’ll discuss a solution I accidentally stumbled across during a last minute trip to Europe and how I now use this “recalibration” to manage my sleep cycles. Until next time!

-Dimitri

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