please help me hack my sleep. it seems like i have everything right. i go to bed at 10-11 every night, usually sleeping for 8-9 hours. i take some natural calm before bed. my diet is solid. i'm doing yoga twice a week and some minimal other exercise (still recovering from a ligament tear in the ankle and some back problems). the room is dark. i've got a temperapedic-like topper and have tried a harder surface, but it only made things worse. i've tried with limited success esther gokhale's position for sleeping, but i never stay in it. the problem is that when i'm sleeping, i'm tossing and turning all night. now, i usually don't fully wake up, but it's nowhere near restful sleep. oh, also, i don't really have problems actually falling asleep. sooo, what sleep hacks have worked for you? and what suggestions do you have for me? could it be cortisol? something else?
asked bymloster (787)
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on April 13, 2011
at 01:05 PM
Adjusting three things have helped me sleep.
The first is adjusting the temperature. Make sure your environment is a comfortable temperature for you. I prefer it cold, but find out what works for you. I can not sleep much above 75 degrees.
The next thing is universal as far as I know. Make sure you are sleeping in the dark. I'm not talking about turning off the light in your bedroom, I'm talking about real, pitch black darkness. There was no artificial light thousands of years ago. The most light you would have seen would have been the moon and stars or the dying embers of a fire. Blackout shades and closed doors help, just don't do anything to block off ventilation.
The final thing is learning about your natural sleep pattern and adjusting your thinking accordingly. For humans this is not a solid, uninterrupted 8 hours. This is just another modern myth. We naturally sleep much more like any other large animal: a few "shifts" over the night with brief periods of wakefulness in between. In fact in the absence of artificial light other than fires and other combustion based light sources, this natural sleep pattern continued well into modern times:
http://www.cracked.com/article_19121_7-basic-things-you-wont-believe-youre-all-doing-wrong.html (I know it is a humor site, but it is a really good article)
Try examining the way you sleep and learning about our natural sleep cycle. The key for me was as simple as learning and accepting that it is alright to wake up at night. Once I did that, once I was no longer worried about what was "wrong" with me I slept fine. Sure I still wake up at night, but now I know it is perfectly natural. Embrace it, don't try to force it. There is nothing wrong with lazing around in bed for a hour in the middle of the night! It's dark and cool and comfortable and there are no distractions. And if you just let it happen naturally, before you know it you'll be asleep again. Once you embrace your proper sleep schedule you might even sleep less but you will sleep better.
Once I was no longer worried about why I tossed and turned (my body naturally wanted to be up) and why I couldn't sleep like I was "supposed" to I started having the best sleep of my life. Without even trying. When I'm asleep I sleep deeper, when I get up for the day I'm not groggy and begging for coffee and wobbling in the shower; I'm awake. I dream deeper and more often.
Sleep is a big part of your life. Embrace it as you would eating or moving. Don't look at it as something you have to get done or something that if you don't do it "right" then you are broken. It's as much a part of your body as breathing and it will come just as naturally if you understand how it is supposed to work and just let it.
on April 13, 2011
at 02:29 AM
Here's the link about natural calm.
on April 13, 2011
at 03:20 AM
I just received my copy of "Lights Out" by T.S. Wiley.. haven't read it yet, but if you're looking for resources on sleep, it's supposed to be a good read.. most of the negative Amazon reviews are for writing style rather than content..
on April 15, 2011
at 08:19 PM
Your situation sounds a lot like mine. My room is dark, I take ZMA, which is similar to Nat Calm, I work out 3 times/week, but with deeper sleeping issue: falling asleep slowly, waking in the middle of the night in an unpleasant manner, tossing and turning. For the last three nights I've taken 5mg of melatonin, and it's worked. So try that, it seems to be the fix that worked for me.