15

votes

How do you enter Restorative Sleep faster?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 14, 2011 at 12:09 PM

How do we get our bodies into Restorative sleep faster?

How do we make sure we stay in Restorative sleep to keep our bodies recovering longer?


alt text

Trading Reputation for a better nights sleep. Lets hear some more Science and Theories.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on January 08, 2012
at 10:09 AM

Stephen - I'm curious what you applied from all the answers and what results came...

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on July 17, 2011
at 10:09 AM

Stephen - I'm curious what you applied from all the answers and what results came...

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 17, 2011
at 03:42 AM

I'd add some fat to the potato though - fat definitely helps me sleep.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on January 25, 2011
at 08:42 PM

See the first quote above in gray. Essentially eat your protein/fat dinner as usual, but around 3 hours later have a bit of potato.

0ee98c251b5eef357445aefec99c5d7b

(888)

on January 25, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I'm struggling a bit to translate this into practical terms. Any suggestions?

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 25, 2011
at 02:42 AM

Wow, really Stephen? That explains a lot about a few people I know....

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 25, 2011
at 02:18 AM

It's ESTROGENIC too...

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

Nicely done, Sean. Very interesting read.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 21, 2011
at 06:43 AM

I find that feeling cold just distracts me from sleep. Instead of drifting off, I find myself thinking about how cold I am. Then again, being too hot does the same..

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on January 20, 2011
at 10:56 PM

Marijuana can reduce your REM sleep, which will inhibit your cognitive functions over the long-term. I'm all for a bit of green, but I wouldn't use it for enhancing my sleep. There have been some studies on this in patients that use marijuana to sleep better when in chronic pain.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 20, 2011
at 10:22 PM

Hoooray for California :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I have always slept with my feet out. I like every bit of the rest of me covered though. Weird. My daughter is the same way. I've been trying to sleep with my compression socks on to help with my blood pressure and some nights it just drives me too insane and I have to take them off!

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:14 AM

I have had janky sleep issues the past few days and yoga nidra has been invaluable.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 20, 2011
at 12:56 AM

I used to be adamant about my feet being covered, but once I read about being cooler helping with sleep and somebody wrote a tip about feet poking out (not in the NYT article, but somewhere else), I tried it and haven't been able to go back since. :)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 20, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Thinking happy thoughts is a too-often-overlooked tip! The other night my husband switched the TV from whatever he was watching to one of the Underworld movies (= vampires, gore, violence) and I was like, "Seriously, do I really need this stuff percolating in my brain RIGHT BEFORE I head off to try and fall asleep?"

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:32 AM

Ahhh! I have such an anti-cold-feet neurosis, this answer totally made me twitchy to imagine, lol... glad it works for you though ;)

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:08 AM

there is an answer button, or right below questions and answers a very small "add comment" text. click the add comment for well, comments. :) Welcome to Paleohacks!

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 15, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Sorry, what did i do? hit reply?

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on January 15, 2011
at 02:20 PM

lol....now that's funny.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on January 15, 2011
at 05:26 AM

I love that you edited your question S-A. Well played. :)

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 15, 2011
at 03:15 AM

absolutely. i went to a four day yoga nidra conference at kripalu (a yoga ashram in massachusetts) and it was incredible. i have a CD that i use at home sometimes. its quite powerful, and quite deep. i have literally never been so deeply relaxed in my life as i was driving home from that conference!

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Cara, please use the "add comment" feature to add comments like this in the future.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:58 PM

I recently tried the ear plug thing (new roomates, lol) works well. The only thing I'm worried about is if there is some sort of emergency and I am too zonked to respond and or the ear plugs prevent me from hearing danger.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:48 PM

color me ignorant, time to go learn more about sleep.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:47 PM

all my dinners are high fat/protein. 68-70 is our year round house temp at night. humidifiers make me feel icky.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:47 PM

my position is roughly a crawl, (I alternate/mirror)Left Leg straight, Left arm up above me, with head resting on bicep. Right leg pulled in with foot near groin and right arm pulling blanket in against my chest.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:45 PM

i use all of that but the earplugs, been tempted to try just my futon, no pillow, no memory foam pad...

211d4075d68b24cd0aa7ebfa94262bb9

on January 14, 2011
at 09:40 PM

REM is sometimes called "paradoxical sleep" precisely because it is not restful and is much more similar to being awake than other sleep phases. As far as I know we don't even know the purpose of REM sleep.

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

16 Answers

best answer

5
B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on January 22, 2011
at 12:01 PM

Serotonin and Tryptophan! (must pass the blood-brain barrier)

Here is a basic method on getting tryptophan to the brain, from the author of Potatoes not Prozac:

So we want you to eat protein and then 3 hours later have something to raise your insulin level. A potato seems like a better alternative than a candy bar.

Before that she explained the reasoning so anyone can understand it:

Tryptophan is a kind of amino acid, which comes from protein. When you eat protein foods (meats, cheese, eggs, birds, etc.), it is broken down into amino acids. They go into your blood stream and try to get into the brain as "brain food". Tryptophan is a little runty amino acid. The other amino acids compete with him and won't let him get across into the brain.

When you eat a food that causes an insulin reaction, the insulin goes and gets the 'big' aminos and takes them to the muscles to be used as muscle food. The muscles don't really care about the runt so he stays behind. When he is left behind after the big guys go to the muscles, he hops into the brain and sacrifices himself to the serotonin factory. And your serotonin levels rise. The theory is that in the presence of protein tryptophan and serotonin


On that page, she doesn't link to any studies. I'm guessing that is saved for the book. A search finds studies to support her methods or at least the fact that protein can inhibit serotonin production and tryptophan passing the blood-brain barrier.

Some great paleo articles regarding serotonin:


This page, though poorly organized, may also be useful (scroll down to 'Too Much Protein'). Some points from there:

  • To transform tryptophan into serotonin, vitamin B6 is required, as cofactor to activate decarboxylase enzyme which is essential in the biosynthesis serotonin and other neurotransmitters and some autacoids . Consuming more protein than you need requires extra vitamin B6 (and B2 and folic acid). Consuming too much proteinous food inhibits serotonin production.
  • Consuming too much increases blood-amino acid levels, making it harder for the brain to specifically pick up tryptophan. The amino acid phenylalanine inhibits serotonin production, through inhibiting decarboxylation of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophane into serotonin.
  • Consuming too much protein increases blood-phenylalanine level. The amino acid phenylalanine inhibits serotonin production, through inhibiting decarboxylation of 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophane into serotonin.
  • Consuming too much protein increases blood-leucine level. The amino acid leucine enhances tryptophan-pyrrolase, irreversibly decomposing tryptophan. Unfortunately, the liver can not decompose leucine, tissues like muscles can.

B124653b19ee9dd438710a38954ed4a3

(1634)

on January 25, 2011
at 08:42 PM

See the first quote above in gray. Essentially eat your protein/fat dinner as usual, but around 3 hours later have a bit of potato.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 22, 2011
at 01:45 PM

Nicely done, Sean. Very interesting read.

0ee98c251b5eef357445aefec99c5d7b

(888)

on January 25, 2011
at 06:52 PM

I'm struggling a bit to translate this into practical terms. Any suggestions?

957a563c7e4a165663fd3c71207c39da

on July 17, 2011
at 03:42 AM

I'd add some fat to the potato though - fat definitely helps me sleep.

7
B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded

on January 14, 2011
at 11:08 PM

I'm recently a fan of Yoga Nidra, a mental exercise that lets me get some great sleep... even if science is not sure how it works.

I have a two Science papers to recommend to you: http://www.mindfulness.net.au/uploads/35199/ufiles/pdf-new/psychological-neurophysiological.pdf AND https://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~lazar/Lazar_Neuroreport_00.pdf I picked them out because they are well done and FREE online.

If you want to pick up a free YN mp3 from the web, a quick search will get you several variations.

I think YN is an interesting Hack because when I take time to do it before falling asleep, I feel quite supercharged the next day.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=yoga+nidra+neuro will get you some other interesting studies. So will http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=sleep+neuro

I love that this is a no equipment, low to no cost mental skill that can be practiced, and once you own it, you can teach it to others.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 15, 2011
at 03:15 AM

absolutely. i went to a four day yoga nidra conference at kripalu (a yoga ashram in massachusetts) and it was incredible. i have a CD that i use at home sometimes. its quite powerful, and quite deep. i have literally never been so deeply relaxed in my life as i was driving home from that conference!

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on January 20, 2011
at 04:14 AM

I have had janky sleep issues the past few days and yoga nidra has been invaluable.

5
B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on January 15, 2011
at 12:31 AM

There's a plant that's green, been found on 3,000 yr old mummies and fights inflammation and promotes deep rest. It's only legal though for medical patients in a few states.

1cbb6b2a813475d6c0b17fd5e898dc50

(1248)

on January 15, 2011
at 02:20 PM

lol....now that's funny.

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 20, 2011
at 10:22 PM

Hoooray for California :)

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on January 20, 2011
at 10:56 PM

Marijuana can reduce your REM sleep, which will inhibit your cognitive functions over the long-term. I'm all for a bit of green, but I wouldn't use it for enhancing my sleep. There have been some studies on this in patients that use marijuana to sleep better when in chronic pain.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 25, 2011
at 02:18 AM

It's ESTROGENIC too...

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 25, 2011
at 02:42 AM

Wow, really Stephen? That explains a lot about a few people I know....

4
E34fbfa1bca9ae970c9c7313bf9de9f8

(1436)

on January 14, 2011
at 09:44 PM

Tim Ferris's new book, the 4 hour body, has a couple chapters on hacking sleep. His suggestions for better sleep:

-Test 67-70deg as your bedroom temp

-Eat a large fat&protein meal 3 hours prior to bedtime

-Tax nervous system with isolated movements

-Take a cold shower/bath prior to bed

-Use an ultrasonic humidifier

-Use Phillips Golite/nightwave pulse light

-Resort to the half military crawl position

I like to foam roll before bed. I have no idea whether it helps sleep or not, but it is relaxing.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:47 PM

all my dinners are high fat/protein. 68-70 is our year round house temp at night. humidifiers make me feel icky.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:47 PM

my position is roughly a crawl, (I alternate/mirror)Left Leg straight, Left arm up above me, with head resting on bicep. Right leg pulled in with foot near groin and right arm pulling blanket in against my chest.

3
9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

on January 22, 2011
at 12:13 PM

3 ideas: magnesium, sex, melatonin.

3
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 21, 2011
at 06:54 AM

SOmetimes my brain whirls around and around thinking about stupid problems that have no good solutions and then I can't sleep. Once I realize that my sleep is delayed and my brain won't settle down, I find some kind of brain task that will distract me and slowly bore me to sleep. The classic counting sheep thing would be a good example but does not seem to work for me. I think maybe it's just a tad too easy and does not distract me from my other problems. What I do instead is imagine a jumping animal, say a kangaroo, as he jumps over different items, maybe the bed first, then a table, then a fence. But each item is different so my brain is kept busy coming up with new items to jump over. Duplicates are not allowed! I imagine him jumping over all kinds of things world wide, maybe the moon or the Eiffel Tower or whatever. The effort of this brain task is just enough to distract from stresses in life, but also not so much that I can't drift off to sleep. For other people, the same thing might be accomplished via other mind games like math problems or whatever, but it just can't be anything stressful. You need to keep yoru mind occupied on something relaxing. Sometimes when doing this, I will get distracted, forget the jumping animal, and go back to stressing, but if that happens, I just gently remind myself to continue on with the jumping animal. I think this may work similar to meditation in which they sometimes use breathing exercises or various mantras to try to steer the brain away from daily stress. Perhaps this is a variation on the 'think happy thoughts' suggestion, but in my version it is more like don't think bad thoughts! Instead think of boring things that will block out bad thoughts and slowly activate your imagination and let it carry you off to sleep.

3
C0fcb48d7da4f76fac17318efd2cd6b8

on January 20, 2011
at 12:27 AM

Here is my mise en place for sleep: Go to bed when I feel sleepy. Turn the heat off. Then, all done in as complete darkness as possible, I think happy thoughts, don't eat too close to bedtime but I'm not hungry, I don't drink alcohol too close to bedtime, I have moved my body vigorously and breathed deeply sometime earlier in the day, I wear earplugs, have a comfortable mattress and a good blanket, say a loving word to my partner or myself (sounds corny but I don't care), have a dog (or cat) at my feet, smile in the dark just because, then I take a deep breath, close my eyes, smile again, and go to sleep. Anyway, works great for me every time.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 20, 2011
at 12:55 AM

Thinking happy thoughts is a too-often-overlooked tip! The other night my husband switched the TV from whatever he was watching to one of the Underworld movies (= vampires, gore, violence) and I was like, "Seriously, do I really need this stuff percolating in my brain RIGHT BEFORE I head off to try and fall asleep?"

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on January 14, 2011
at 08:11 PM

Rest and repair comes primarily from slow-wave sleep (SWS). REM promotes creativity, and memory consolidation, and Stage 2 sleep increases alertness and motor skills.

We tend to get more REM in late morning, as a function of circadian rhythm, whereas SWS peaks depending on when we go to sleep, not absolute time of day. SWS is more highly prioritized the longer it's been since you slept.

2
50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 21, 2011
at 04:13 PM

Stephen - Here is a neat article re sleep and the stages of it, from Emily Deans website

link text

2
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on January 20, 2011
at 09:49 PM

I am not sure if this is related to the Yoga Nidra post but this is what I do to pass out into a deep sleep: 1. Focus on breathing. Become aware of your breathing and try to make it deeper and slower progressively. 2. Imagine every muscle in your body relaxing progressively. 3. Visualize yourself slowly covered in a blanket of dark heavy sleep.

I also read someone's post on a fitness blog that saying "I'm thankful" for at least 5 things is therapudic mentally. I tried it the past two nights and I slept very well. I think it's due to putting focus on your happy thoughts rather than keeping work/stress in the mind.

And lastly, I tend to sleep better after a big whack of green vegetables like roasted broccoli or brussels (favorite!) I think due to the magnesium content. I don't have access to natural calm.

I also have a very hard time sleeping in warm environments. I second the colder room theory.

2
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 15, 2011
at 12:23 AM

I've also read about being cooler during sleep as a terrific tactic for falling asleep more quickly, and then having a more restful sleep. See this:

NYT: Really? The Claim - Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep

This is the precise reason why giving babies and toddlers a bath before bedtime is a tried and true strategy; the water lowers their core body temperature just enough to trigger the "bedtime" tripwire in the kiddos' internal clocks.

Since I love feeling super warm under IKEA's level 6 down comforter, I found that wearing no socks - feet poking out at the end, affords me the mostly full body warmth I crave while temp adjusting for more restful sleep with uncovered feet. :)

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:32 AM

Ahhh! I have such an anti-cold-feet neurosis, this answer totally made me twitchy to imagine, lol... glad it works for you though ;)

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 20, 2011
at 12:56 AM

I used to be adamant about my feet being covered, but once I read about being cooler helping with sleep and somebody wrote a tip about feet poking out (not in the NYT article, but somewhere else), I tried it and haven't been able to go back since. :)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on January 20, 2011
at 02:31 PM

I have always slept with my feet out. I like every bit of the rest of me covered though. Weird. My daughter is the same way. I've been trying to sleep with my compression socks on to help with my blood pressure and some nights it just drives me too insane and I have to take them off!

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 21, 2011
at 06:43 AM

I find that feeling cold just distracts me from sleep. Instead of drifting off, I find myself thinking about how cold I am. Then again, being too hot does the same..

1
135ea7e598ac8517e26ac2896309e776

(161)

on January 21, 2011
at 10:00 AM

I'm a fan of those earplugs too but try to avoid them as often as I can because the brain loses the ability to overhear noise in the environment while asleep. And then you finally wake up from the tiniest of sounds without your earplugs, your totally dependent on them. This at least is what I've read on some websites. Sorry, but I don't have any URLs at my hand. And I think that our paleo ancestors haven't had a totally noise-free environment while asleep. I think of bonfires cracking and burning and other people of your community making sounds in the middle of the night, something like that.

Personally I eat a large meal at 6PM, take a magnesium supplement and drink 1L of Rooibos tea. To bed I go usually at 11 - 12PM so my stomach is not very full but I am not hungry either. Then I switch all the radiators and electrical devices off except for one light and read a litte. Eventually when I become drowsier I put the book aside, switch of the last light and have a nice sleep.

I guess my sleep routine has some room for improvments too though ;)

0
58987593d41d8a148c86690fd6a4ee67

on January 21, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Ever since I switched to paleo I've been having I wouldn't say a more restful sleep but a deeper sleep. And a bit longer. Maybe it will become more restful once my body goes and adjusts to a ketogenic state. From my understanding sleep is crucial in the paleo lifestyle. You have to make your room as black as possible. Avoid the tv, the computer, and bright lights an hour before you go to bed. Don't exercise 4 hours before you sleep. Turn off ALL lights including LED lights.

For me I personally meditate (Vipisanna) for 30 minutes in the dark before I sleep. My body becomes like a ragdoll and any tension really disappears. There's a good summary of clinical research done of the effects of mindfulness meditation somewhere. I don't recall the site at the moment. But the go to book is mindfulness in plain english which is free online.

I especially have a problem with dwelling in the problems of the day and of the past but vipisanna meditation really makes it easy to brush aside.

0
04293f705870e1837b8670d3c1cd5f67

on January 21, 2011
at 04:27 PM

I think the only thing that would work for me is:

1.) A hard day of hunting and/or gathering.

2.) Out in the wilderness, Laying safely next to a ledge, fireside, sounds of a creek nearby with my loved ones.

awwww, just like camping, without all my electronic stimuli, lights, or distractions of real life.

0
461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 14, 2011
at 11:31 PM

good tips, i've been having a really hard time sleeping lately

Cara

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Cara, please use the "add comment" feature to add comments like this in the future.

461312f31b933638202e0308ab4011b4

(258)

on January 15, 2011
at 11:28 PM

Sorry, what did i do? hit reply?

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 20, 2011
at 12:08 AM

there is an answer button, or right below questions and answers a very small "add comment" text. click the add comment for well, comments. :) Welcome to Paleohacks!

0
Medium avatar

on January 14, 2011
at 10:01 PM

I find that proper D levels coupled with a completely dark room, ear plugs and a 3" memory foam mattress cover makes sleep in general nearly instant.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:45 PM

i use all of that but the earplugs, been tempted to try just my futon, no pillow, no memory foam pad...

50637dfd7dc7a7e811d82283f4f5fd10

(5838)

on January 14, 2011
at 10:58 PM

I recently tried the ear plug thing (new roomates, lol) works well. The only thing I'm worried about is if there is some sort of emergency and I am too zonked to respond and or the ear plugs prevent me from hearing danger.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!