Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
Resting is not just a pleasure. It is essential for our health and living a harmonious life.
Of course you sleep. Even if you didn’t want to, your body still gets its rest.
But sleeping is not enough for being actually rested. How many times have you awaken with fatigue in your bones? This is a major problem for the modern man.
The quality of the sleep makes all the difference. But that’s not an easy thing to get. Many researchers have beaten their brains out to find out the secrets of a more resting sleep. Don’t you think it’s about time you found them out, too?!
On this page:
What does a good bed mean?
You come home after a hard-working day, take a bite of something, and sit down in front of the TV for a little tête-à-tête. It pretends that it has something interesting to say and you pretend that you listen to it with great interest. And that’s how, after some time, you’ll find yourself sitting in a queer position. You’ve fallen asleep on the couch, again. Every joint screams with pain: “If you move suddenly, I am not to blame for what’s next!” Outside it’s pitch dark. You perform, with moil and toil, a transfer to your bedroom and you call that “the resuming of your sleep”.
Does this scenario seem familiar to you?
These brief intervals of chaotic sleep can be named anything but a resting sleep. In order to have a good sleep, you need a good bed.
When I say a “good bed”, I’m not thinking of some carved canopy bed or other such pretentious stuff. A few boards can be quite sufficient. What’s important is the mattress, because that’s what you sleep on (if you don’t upset your wife).
So, when you buy a new mattress, (are you already eager to do it?!) it’s not a good time to save your money. Think about this: throughout your whole life, you spend a third of every day on it. And the other two thirds will not be as pleasant, if you don’t have a loving and harmonious relationship with your mattress.
Even if the price causes you second thoughts, you should do the math: a more resting sleep is shorter, so if you need to sleep even 15 minutes less, that means almost 4 days gained a year. If you have that mattress for 7 years, that means an extra month to live awake. Is the price difference for a cheaper mattress worth it?
But be careful! An expensive mattress doesn’t necessarily mean a more suitable one for you. Mattresses have different characteristics, and every person has his or her preferences. You need to do your research and eventually test some mattresses in the store.
Respect for the darkness
When you sleep, light has a very important role. Or, better said, the lack of it.
The ancestral animal within you knows that there is a night-day cycle and that it needs to sleep when it’s dark. Even if you have been living your entire life with light that goes on and off at the press of a button, this doesn’t mean anything compared to the millions of years during which your genetic code was refined.
The light in your bedroom should be as dim as possible. If there is light coming in from outside, then the blinds or the curtains must be shut.
If, from whatever reason, you need a bit of light into the bedroom, it should be as discreet as possible. You can use a motion sensor watch-light, so that it turns off when you fall sound asleep.
On the other hand, it is as important when you are awake, to stay in bright rooms, not in semi-obscurity.
When you get from light to darkness, your body produces melatonin (especially through the pineal gland). This hormone is the one making you drowsy. The more acute the transition from the light state to darkness state is, the more melatonin you will produce. And thus, the better you will sleep.
No blue light
Even the light’s color is important.
Do you remember the ROYGBIV from your school days? It is the simplified form of the chromatic spectrum, which remained the same since the time of Isaac Newton 1)”Sir Isaac Newton’s Influence on the Color Wheel” by Albert Munsell. On the left, we have the main warm colors: red, orange, yellow. On the right, we have the main cool colors: green, blue, indigo, violet.
The small amount of light you decide to allow within your bedroom during the nighttime should be ranging between the hues of red and orange, not at all blue.
The reason also has to do with the hormone that makes you sleepy. The cool-colored light, especially the blue one (with wavelengths comprised within 460 and 480 nm), blocks the production of melatonin 2)”How Blocking Blue Light at Night Can Transform Your Sleep” by Kris Gunnars, article published in Authority Nutrition in April 2016. In other words, this kind of light tells your body “It’s not the time for sleeping!”
Getting back to Newton, do you remember what he did with the 7 colors of ROYGBIV? He put them on a disk and observed that, if he rotates it with a great speed, the colors have the tendency to turn white. That happens, because the eye sees the colors mixing up. The white color is nothing but a light in which all the frequencies are equally distributed. Therefore, the blue light is included in the white light. Even if you don’t see it.
In conclusion, when you choose your watch-light (maybe for the child’s room), don’t forget that it should be as red as possible. While the usual bedroom light should be as warm as possible.
Be careful what you eat for dinner
It’s pretty obvious that if you go to bed with a full stomach, this won’t help you to sleep very well.
In order to have a good sleep, it doesn’t matter only how you eat, but what you eat as well.
Carbohydrates must be avoided for dinner, because if you disturb the level of your blood sugar, there is the risk of experiencing insomnia. That means no sweets and less cereals, (especially the refined ones).
On the other hand, proteins are quite necessary. But not in excess: don’t gorge on meat, because it is difficult to digest. From proteins, your body will extract L-tryptophan, which is essential for the production of melatonin. You see how everything is connected?
You can eat vegetables, dairy products, some seeds and nuts. Milk, yogurt (not sweetened!), sesame, almonds, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of L-tryptophane 3)”Tryptophan” in Wikipedia.
More and more people, stressed by their daily activities or by their wanting of getting as much fun as possible, sleep too little. Are you one of them?
If you don’t usually get enough sleep, you can develop many health problems. Even the quality of sleep for the following days can be affected.
All the experts insist on you getting at least 7 hours of sleep out of 24 (especially the youngsters and the teenagers). But few of them point out how important it is to observe your bedtime and your awakening time.
Your body is a clockwork, literally speaking. It doesn’t take a peak to the clock on the wall, but to its own inner mechanism, called the circadian clock. This winds automatically, based on some signals from the outside, especially by the light/darkness state. Every day, at certain hours, different metabolic processes are triggered, observing a schedule called the circadian rhythm.
Your body takes into account your habits and it tries, as much as it can, to adapt the circadian rhythm to them. But, if you act in an unpredictable manner, you manage to confuse it. And, that you do more often than you may think.
Let’s take, for example, your sleeping hours. You’ll tell me that you have to work or go to school. Willingly or unwillingly, you have to get up when your alarm goes off. But you are very keen on getting enough sleep, so you try getting to bed 7-8 hours earlier than the ringing of that mischievous alarm clock.
Now, there may be some exceptions: on New Year’s Day, Easter, March 8th, June 1st, family anniversaries, plus those of your friends, the big day of the concert (the unique occasion of this year), the day when the national soccer team won the championship, the day it lost, the day your kid caught a hell of a cold – it’s all understandable.
But now, be honest: what do you do every single weekend? You stay up late, watching the TV or surfing the Internet, and you get up later in the morning after, just because it’s the weekend.
Only, your circadian clock doesn’t know what a weekend is. Tough luck. Hundreds of our ancestors’ generations didn’t have such a thing. Therefore, the so-called extra hours of sleeping on the weekend mornings are more likely to turn your metabolism upside down.
You’ll tell me that after you’re struggling to wake up early every weekday, you want to “catch up” a bit. But have you ever wondered that your grandfathers used to raise up earlier than you ever did? And that means on a daily basis. How did they do it? Easy, they had a very fixed sleep schedule.
When you strictly observe the bedtime hours and respect the wake-up hours, the metabolic mechanisms can do their job more efficiently. Not only that, after a while it would be easier for you to get up early in the morning, but you will also be rested, even with less sleep.
There is a certain flexibility in choosing your bedtime hour, it only has to be the same every day. The body will get used to it. But if you want to be as natural as possible, choose one around 22-23 PM. The midnight should find you sound asleep. (Have you ever wondered why is it called “midnight”? Because it’s not when your night begins.)
Set your alarm after 7.5-8 hours. That’s because a sleep cycle lasts about one hour and a half. If you wake up just before the alarm goes off, it’s perfect.
What is the ideal temperature for sleeping?
The surrounding temperature matters for a good sleep. You know how hard it is to fall asleep in a scorching heat. And if it is too cold, you have to cover yourself with tons of blankets. But what is the ideal temperature?!
Of course, some of us are cold persons, others are more hardened. There is no ideal temperature for everybody.
But one thing is certain: during the night, the bedroom should be cooler than you like during the day.
Just to get an idea, the optimal temperature for a resting sleep should be around 16-20 °C 4)”The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep” by Anahad O’Connor, article published in The New York Times on 3rd August 2009. Just what it takes not to shiver with cold.
You can play a little farce to your body: have a warm bath before bedtime. Or drink something warm (but no coffee or green tea). After the body gets warmed up, the bed will seem cooler and it will say to you: “Ha, it’s sleeping time!”
Now, don’t you think that if the temperature in the room is a bit chilly, you have to put a sweat suit on you. On the contrary, it’s good for the pajamas to be as loose as possible. Especially in the summer, when you can give up the pajamas for good. Your skin will breathe more and you’ll have an extra reason for a good sleep.
If you don’t suffer from a medical affliction, you have nothing to worry about: your body automatically self-adjusts its temperature while you’re driving your pigs to market. It seems that we are genetically programmed to function like this 5)”Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset?” – study conducted by P.J. Murphy and S.S. Campbell, published in Sleep in July 1997.
You can sleep better in two
If you sleep as a couple, you will get better rest after some cuddling and some kissing, you know what I mean.
The reason is the release of the oxytocin within the body. This hormone, among other things, makes you sleep like an angel.
But then, after some lovey-dovey action, you get warmer than after a cup of hot milk, as I was saying. Sleep tight!
All these may seem very easy to put into practice. And that’s the reason for which you’ll forget about them in the next 5 minutes. (Or not?)
It takes determination to bring changes into your life. And it’s even harder to make changes within your family. But after just one month, you’ll think things have been like this forever. I’m looking forward to you telling me the results you got.
A day in which you are truly rested is a day full of life. Good luck!
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References [ + ]
|1.||↑||”Sir Isaac Newton’s Influence on the Color Wheel” by Albert Munsell|
|2.||↑||”How Blocking Blue Light at Night Can Transform Your Sleep” by Kris Gunnars, article published in Authority Nutrition in April 2016|
|3.||↑||”Tryptophan” in Wikipedia|
|4.||↑||”The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep” by Anahad O’Connor, article published in The New York Times on 3rd August 2009|
|5.||↑||”Nighttime drop in body temperature: a physiological trigger for sleep onset?” – study conducted by P.J. Murphy and S.S. Campbell, published in Sleep in July 1997|