What do you think is the best time to go to bed? 10 pm? Doesn’t matter if you are an ‘owl’ ? Depending when you plan to get up? If you are a plant eater you don’t need much sleep anyways?
Well, WHEN you go to sleep actually matters and for everyone. And it matters even more than HOW MUCH you sleep.
A massive number of people have problems with sleep. I know this first hand. This past year when I worked at the natural supplement place, sleep aids were as popular as weight loss, stress, collagen and sports supplements.
Now, when I attended high school and then university, I usually went to bed at around 9:30-10 pm, and 95% of the time it took me about 2-7 minutes to fall asleep. When waking up during the night, it took me seconds to fall asleep again. In the morning, most of the time I’d get up feeling refreshed (even if getting up at 4-5 am). So, even sometimes 5-6 hours was enough to get through the day relatively decently. The fact that I was relatively good with only 5-6 hours of sleep made me always wonder, why? Well, I knew that in my case, it had to do with WHEN I go to sleep. But still, why going earlier matters so much? Well, the diagram below is the answer.
If you look at this diagram quickly, basically, the secret to a maximally-restorative sleep IS BEING ASLEEP BY 9 PM.
Maximally-restorative sleep means that your body is able to optimally regenerate and re-tune its tissues, processes, and energy currents. This way you feel more invigorated, refreshed, and peaceful the next day.
Okay, going to bed early is one thing. But what if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Sleep therapist, Dr Nerina Ramlakha has answers for you (1). Unfortunately, sleep pills won’t help. Instead, she suggests the following to get the deep sleep that your body craves for:
♠ again, try to go to bed before 10 pm and sleep for at least 7-8 hours. This way you will notice that you start to feel sleepy around 9-10 pm as early as next day
♠ reduce stress in your life – use Google for some ideas. Because your body must rely on adrenaline so much, it’s often in the survival mode, and correspondingly the sleep is not as deep (hey, there may be tigers around, can’t afford to see that dream tonight – sorry pal)
♠ make your bedroom your sanctuary. Comfy interior, peace-bringing decorative objects, minimum technology all help
♠ limit electronics an hour before bed. Blue light and electromagnetic frequency from phones and laptops certainly don’t help you sleep better. Within an hour of going to bed read a book or meditate / pray instead.
♠ eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Even if it’s something small like two dates or a dozen of almonds. This helps your body produce less stress hormones related to low blood sugar levels
♠ drink enough water. This one is no brainer – your body is 70% water, and sleep cycles need water to run smoothly
♠ limit caffeine. That includes caffeine form green tea and raw chocolate. It interferes with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Caffeine also gets on the way of liver breaking down adrenaline, the stress hormone
These suggestions seem like nothing new but some might need a considerable effort to master.
I find the above sleep diagram incredibly interesting, so let’s come back to it, and see what your body does exactly so that you wake up feeling like a newborn.
I’m taking the below right from the Dr Nerina’s book “Fast Asleep, Wide Awake: Discover the secrets of restorative sleep and vibrant energy”
9 pm-11 pm: The body focuses on the thyroid and adrenal glands, re-balancing your metabolism, replenishing your depleted energy levels, and lowering your stress hormones to reduce feelings of confusion and paranoia.
11 pm-1 am: The body focuses on the immune system and muscle growth and repair. Emotional re-balancing focuses on reducing feelings of resentment and bitterness.
1 am-3 am: The body detoxifies the liver, along with the heart and other organs to a lesser extent. Emotional re-balancing focuses on fear, anger, frustration, and rage.
3 am-5 am: The lungs release toxic waste (hence the early morning coughing in smokers). Emotional re-balancing focuses on grief and sadness.
That’s fascinating, isn’t it? The human body is like a carefully programmed machine that does different things at pre-set timeframes.
So, now you have a valid excuse (and an obligation – because your health is your responsibility) to slack and be in bed before 10 pm. And I’ll try to be more disciplined in this matter as well.