Sleep Biohacking: Science-Tips
Sleep is still one of the greatest mysteries for science, like gravity and the quantum field. We still do not understand why we are sleeping, although we are becoming more aware of this. Below are tips for those who cannot sleep for a long time, often wake up, do not feel rested in the morning, or just want to improve the quality of their sleep.
Sleep in total darknessThe room should be dark, as in a deep cave. Since people since ancient times slept in the open air, our circadian rhythm is regulated by light. And even the LED on some device in your room can interfere with the production of melatonin and serotonin, which are responsible for the circadian rhythm. Therefore, turn off the gadgets, close the door tightly, turn off the light in the corridor and throw out the nightlights. If even very weak light gets through the eyelids on the retina, it can slow down the course of workour "internal clock". The best option is to fall asleep at sunset (yes, we know that this is a very inconvenient option). In the summer, it gets dark late, so the already declining production of melatonin is reduced even more due to the abundance of light sources in the dark. Since the invention of the light bulb in the 19th century, much more light has been surrounding us at night than ever during our evolution.
Avoid the blue light at night
Especially harmful to sleep are blue light sources , in particular, displays of all kinds of gadgets. Even if you are awake at night, we recommend using glasses that block the blue part of the spectrum. Studies show that these glasses prevent the suppression of melatonin production, which is extremely important at night, even if you are not sleeping.
There are other ways to “protect” from the blue part of the spectrum in different light sources at night. For example, the F.lux program automatically corrects the brightness and color gamut of the display of your gadget depending on the time of day or information from the light sensor. But one question haunts you: why are you sitting at night in front of the screen instead of sleeping?
Using the red part of the spectrum
Different parts of the spectrum have different effects on the emotional and physical state of a person, both positive and negative. Red lighting can be effectively used to reduce nervousness and stimulate healing mechanisms. The red part of the spectrum (600-1000 nm) relieves stress and improves metabolism. In addition, red lighting helps to fall asleep deeper and better relax during sleep , reduces headache, nasal congestion, sore throat and ears, cough. Red light increases the production of melatonin and enhances the regeneration of muscle tissue. All this is especially important for residents of the metropolis, who are very few on the street and are deficient in sunlight.
The benefits of red light to human health have been known for a long time. As far back as 1895, Niels Finsen published the article “Red Light Cure for Smallpox,” and in 1903 received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on the healing effects of light. In 1910, John Kellogg published the book Light Therapy, which described the use of light in the treatment of diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue, insomnia, baldness and many other ailments.
For therapy with red light, it is enough to purchase an infrared light bulb and screw it in instead of the usual one. We recommend turning it on all night.
According to studies , a thermoneutral state is necessary for the best quality sleep. It is achieved at a room temperature of 30-32 degrees, if you sleep without pajamas and blankets, otherwise - 16-19 degrees. That is, if you sleep in your pajamas and / or under the covers, the room should be pretty cool. At temperatures above or below these ranges, sleep duration decreases.
Electromagnetic fieldsTheir influence on our physiology is underestimated by so many. However, electromagnetic fields can also inhibit the activity of the pineal gland, which produces melatonin and serotonin, not to mention other negative consequences . Various devices emit fields with a higher oscillation frequency compared to the electromagnetic field of our body. For example, a household electric network generates with a frequency of 50-60 Hz, while our brain generates a field with a frequency of 2 Hz during sleep. This discrepancy in frequencies can make it difficult to fall asleep or move from the deep sleep phase if you do fall asleep. The brain is trying to bring the frequency of generation of its own electromagnetic field in accordance with the frequency of the external field.
Ideally, you need to protect yourself from the effects of various artificially created fields at night. Unfortunately, in a metropolis this is almost impossible. But you can at least reduce the number and their intensity. There is another way: use a device that generates an electromagnetic field with a frequency close to natural for humans. It is believed that in this case, the mitochondria in the cells of our body work with the greatest efficiency, which allows us to extend the life of cells and all systems of our body.
The procedure for going to bedGoing to bed, it is best to do an exercise that allows you to calm the nervous system and even out the heart rate. This can be meditation, breathing exercises, aromatherapy and even massage. Your goal is to relax and fall asleep soon. Having found the most suitable remedy for you, use it every night.
As Aristotle said, “We are what we regularly do. Then perfection becomes not an action, but a habit. ”
Do not drink fluids for two hours before bedtime
This will reduce the likelihood of waking up due to the desire to visit the toilet. Or, at a minimum, lower the frequency. It is also advisable to refrain from eating during this period, since the process of digestion will prevent the body from slowing down the metabolism.
Go to the toilet just before bedtimeIt will also reduce the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night. You can also eat some high protein snacks a few hours before bedtime, this will give the body a dose of L-tryptophan, which is necessary for the production of melatonin and serotonin.
If you are involved in athletics, then pay attention to the following study . Protein intake at bedtime improves recovery after exercise. The level of amino acids, which is maintained throughout the night, rises rapidly. Protein intake enhances their production in the body itself (311 ± 8 versus 246 ± 9 micromole • kg for 7.5 hours). Muscle protein synthesis grows by about 22%.
Avoid light snacks before bedtime, especially cereals and sweets.
This increases blood sugar and makes falling asleep more difficult. Later, when the sugar content drops below normal (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable to fall asleep again.
Eat the right carbs for dinner.Such carbohydrates can boost the production of tryptophan and serotonin, which are involved in the sleep mechanism. A study was conducted at the University of Sydney among 12 men aged 12 to 35 years. They all had no trouble sleeping. The experiment lasted three weeks, once a week they spent the night in the laboratory.
Initially, subjects abstained from food for five hours. After which they proceeded to a meal, and after a few hours went to bed. The menu was the same: rice with steamed vegetables in tomato puree. But the type of rice and meal times changed every time. For the first time, jasmine rice was served, and one hour later they announced a hang-up. The second time, jasmine rice was served again, but already 4 hours before bedtime. For the third time, long-grain rice was used in the dish and also 4 hours before the end of the day.
Researchers changed the appearance of rice to evaluate the effects of high and low glycemic carbohydrates. Jasmine rice has a high index, long grain - low. When eating took place 4 hours before going to bed, the process of falling asleep took an average of 9 minutes. When using jasmine rice an hour before bedtime, the time to fall asleep averaged 15 minutes. The subjects fell asleep the longest after eating long-grain rice 4 hours before bedtime - an average of 18 minutes. Nutrition does not have another effect on men's sleep. The mechanism of the influence of the glycemic index on sleep has not been clarified by scientists. It is believed that such carbohydrates increase the levels of tryptophan and serotonin, which makes us sleepy, but no accurate measurements of the concentration of these substances have been made. Researchers also note
What foods contain healthy carbohydrates:
- tubers (e.g. potatoes);
- wild rice;
- resistant starch .
Take a hot bath before going to bed, shower or visit the saunaIf you increase the body temperature before bedtime, then it will decrease when you are already in bed, which will facilitate the process of falling asleep.
Wear socks for the nightUnlike the rest of the body, legs often freeze at night, because through them the blood circulates the worst. Studies show that putting on socks before bed reduces the likelihood of waking up from the cold. Alternatively, you can place a heating pad or hot water bottle on your feet.
Wear a mask over your eyesAs mentioned above, it is very important to sleep in FULL darkness. But since this is not always possible, especially in the city, a soft eye mask can help you.
No TV before bedtime
And it’s better to remove the TV from the bedroom altogether. Ideally, throw this hellish box out of the house. Watching television unnecessarily stimulates our brain and impairs the pineal gland, making it very difficult to quickly fall asleep. We also remind you that in the light of the TV screen there is a high proportion of the blue spectrum, about the dangers of which we also wrote above.
Listen to relaxing recordings.The pacifying effect is exerted by white noise or the sounds of nature, the noise of the ocean or the forest. Personally, I like Dr. Jeffrey Thompson - Delta Sleep System .
Below are the patterns of brain activity that are characteristic for different conditions:
Read something spiritual or sublime before bedtimeIt doesn’t matter: story, novel, story, historical description. Well go biographies of famous people. Of course, if their lives can be described in terms of the title, the adventures of Iggy Pop or Malyuta Skuratov will not inspire you to something sublime.
Also a great way to relax and find a good mood before bed is to keep a diary. It is enough to devote five minutes before bedtime to this, write down your thoughts, feelings and events for the day, thank life for one more day lived. This habit helps not only to fall asleep quickly, but also gives you the opportunity to evaluate the events of the day, look at them from a different angle, and possibly change your attitude towards them. The main thing is to find a reason to be grateful .
Avoid drugsPerhaps it makes no sense to somehow justify this thesis. If you do not understand why drugs are bad, including for sleeping, we recommend that you contact a narcologist.
Avoid CaffeineIn some people, caffeine is not processed properly, which is why it affects the body for a long time after consumption. Therefore, even an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will not let such “lucky ones" fall asleep at night. Please note that some medicines also contain caffeine.
Despite the fact that many people become drowsy from alcohol, this is a short-term effect. Drunk people often wake up and fall asleep again for a long time, being half asleep. Alcohol also makes it difficult to go into the deep phase of sleep, during which the brain and body recover best. This explains why so many people rely on alcohol when they need to sleep, but in the end it only aggravates insomnia. The effect of fast falling asleep in the first half of the night is completely leveled by a shallow and intermittent sleep in the second half.
The so-called slow-wave sleep (SWS) stage under the influence of alcohol increases. However, the REM stage suffers in this case, during which we have dreams, and the brain supposedly processes the memories of the past day.
ExerciseRegular exercise for half an hour a day will improve your ability to fall asleep quickly. But do not exercise in the evenings, on the contrary, it will prevent you from falling asleep. The best time for classes is morning.
Lose weightThis advice has a whole bunch of profits, but we will only touch on those related to sleep. Excess weight increases the risk of night apnea, which seriously affects the quality of sleep. There is an inverse relationship: lack of sleep provokes weight gain. Therefore, analyze your diet and stick to a healthier and more balanced diet. An important point: limiting yourself to food, it is very important to get enough sleep every day. According to studies , in this case, dieters lose more than half their weight as fat. For those who do not get enough sleep, fat is only 25% of the weight lost. In addition, lack of sleep increases the level of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for the feeling of hunger, and also reduces overall energy consumption.
Acupuncture mattressOf course, this is not real acupuncture. Probably all of you remember such a concept from childhood as the Kuznetsov iplicator . This is a fabric substrate on which small plates with short plastic spikes are uniformly sewn. According to studies, while lying on a similar mattress, a whole set of various “useful” hormones is produced, including endorphin and melatonin. In particular, such pseudo-acupuncture very effectively improves the quality of sleep, and in some cases eliminates insomnia.
Such a mattress can be easily made independently; the Kuznetsov applicator is widely available for sale.
Avoid foods you are hypersensitive to.This is especially true for sugar, cereals and pasteurized dairy products. Hypersensitivity reactions can be expressed in constipation, intestinal disorders, bloating, gas formation and other troubles.
In 1987, a study was conducted that revealed that most babies with poor sleep actually had an allergy to milk. 71 babies were divided into three groups: 1) with sleep disorder, 2) with symptoms of milk allergy (many of them also slept poorly), 3) control group, without information about sleep quality and allergies. The first and second groups showed signs of an allergy to milk, and when it was excluded from their diet, sleep quality improved markedly. The return of milk again led to the appearance of insomnia.
Increase MelatoninThis hormone runs through the whole article in red thread. Melatonin increases drowsiness, helps to fall asleep faster and wake up less often, improves the body's rest during sleep and reduces fatigue during the day. This natural substance produced by our body, in addition to sleep, has a beneficial effect on a number of other physiological aspects.
It is best to increase melatonin levels naturally - by exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime. You can also use fluorescent lamps, I use Philips goLITE BLU Light Therapy Device.
Melatonin can be purchased as a dietary supplement. Do not take it daily, because it can cause a negative effect. However, it will be useful to take it for a week every month, three hours before bedtime, 1-3 mg.
Take Vitamin B12Vitamin B12 not only increases our energy during the day, but also stimulates the production of melatonin at night. This vitamin also contributes to a more intense drop in melatonin levels in the morning, which makes it easier to wake up. However, not all subjects tested positive for B12 in sleep disorders.
AnalyzesBefore embarking on experiments to improve your sleep, it would be nice to fix a certain reference point in order to subsequently evaluate the results of your efforts. To do this, you can pass some tests and pass the analysis ASI-analysis (Adrenal Stress Index). We are interested in fluctuating levels of certain hormones produced by the adrenal glands during the day.
The level of hormone production changes with some cyclicality. The highest concentration is achieved in the morning, the lowest - at night. ASI analysis involves taking saliva samples during the day: before breakfast, at noon, at lunch, and before bedtime. Cortisol levels in the early morning should be the highest compared to the rest of the day. He gives us strength and energy at the beginning of the day. In a healthy person, the graph of cortisol concentration approximately corresponds to the one presented above. Noticeable deviations indicate problems.
High levels of cortisol at night indicate that you have difficulty relaxing after daytime stress and have difficulty falling asleep. It also shortens the phases of REM sleep and does not allow you to fully relax during the night, deprives of energy in the morning.
If the cortisol level is normal day and evening, but is too high early in the morning, then this indicates an too early rise (4-6 hours) and a lack of sleep.
The third characteristic form of the graph: the level of cortisol is consistently high throughout the day. This indicates chronic stress when the adrenal glands no longer cope with high production of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to compensate for cortisol levels.
The described situations can have very serious consequences for human health, and not only on the quality of sleep. Possible weakening of the immune system, a decrease in the intensity of renewal of the skin, degradation of muscle tissue, weight loss and osteoporosis.
Also, ASI analysis can help in getting rid of the following ailments:
- memory impairment;
- low libido;
- low body temperature.
We hope these tips will help you gain control over your sleep and, as a result, your health. What methods do you use to improve sleep?