Do yourself a favour – don’t read this article until you’ve read 3 sure fire ways to sleep like a King (or Queen) and implemented everything recommended there.
Not bothering with any of those basic lifestyle tips but trying the hacks listed below is comparable to being that person who takes three different protein shakes a day but doesn’t go to the gym.
Sorry, but supplements, equipment and technology aren’t the foundation of success, they’re either a means of helping those struggling to make the basics count, or tools for those trying to get an edge to take their success to another level.
This is not medical advice, but information you can use to discuss possible solutions with your doctor, which should be done before you begin taking any supplement.
When getting scientific with sleep, the key word is melatonin. It’s known as the darkness hormone, and is released by the pineal gland in your brain at night.
Good sleep is dependent on it, and to facilitate melatonin release requires its precursor to be produced as a neurotransmitter in your brain; serotonin.
It takes three steps to perfect this process: consumption, metabolism, and production.
Step 1: Consumption: Tryptophan and carbs
If you look at what serotonin is made from, its ingredient in your diet is the amino acid, tryptophan.
Whilst this is present in foods like salmon, turkey, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds, pineapple and spinach, it’s absorption is improved when consumed with carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates also have a calming effect on those suffering from high stress levels, assisting in making it easier to get to sleep.
The key is to ensure the carbs are not simple sugars and you’re not eating a large quantity too close to bed that will mean your stomach is digesting food until far into your sleep cycles.
Step 2: Metabolism – Vitamin B6
A key part of tryptophan metabolism in the body is Vitamin B6. The good news is that your salmon, turkey and spinach tryptophan sources are rich B6 providers, with the addition of avocados, bananas and potatoes also being effective.
Step 3: Production – Taurine and Glycine
Taurine and Glycine are two supplements that are not fully understood in terms of their mechanisms, but which contribute to serotonin release.
Experiments on flies with similar sleep mechanisms to humans have shown improvements with Taurine supplementation. It’s the result of improving GABA and serotonin release, both of which play a role in magical melatonin production and sleepiness.
Glycine, taken in a range of three to five grams orally before bed, has also been shown to improve sleep. Like Taurine, this is due to its assistance in increasing serotonin production.
Magnesium is a key mineral in your electrolyte balance and is crucial for entering the parasympathetic state (ie being relaxed).
If you’ve had a blood screening and it’s low, then 100% you need to be on it, but it’s a commonly deficient mineral and harmless to try supplementing.
Take Magnesium Bisglycinate an hour before bed and it could help with both getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Remember the issue with light exposure? What is even worse at hitting these receptors is the screen devices you use.
Screens emit blue light that is otherwise only present in sunlight and you hold these inches from your face, increasing its intensity and tricking your brain. This inhibits melatonin release and stimulates cortisol release, a terrible combo for good sleep.
First of all, try using the blue light fighter on your phone. Set it to turn on at sunset each day. If you find yourself watching TV or using your computer in the evenings and this isn’t possible, you can also buy blue-blocker glasses. Better still, just ditch all devices in the evening and read a book.
Notepad and pen
If you’re unable to sleep because you’ve got decisions for your day that you’re questioning, project ideas or countless items that you can’t forget to add to your to-do list tomorrow, this can be stressful.
A commonly effective solution is to write them down. You are no longer concerned about forgetting important moments of inspiration, and you make peace with your thoughts on things that have happened.
Just don’t turn on a bright ceiling light each time you need to roll over and write something down.
If the above seems a bit low-tech, then drop some heavy change on the most advanced sleep monitoring technology out there.
At $US300-400 they’re not cheap, but with a comprehensive interface providing every stat you need to know in order to measure your sleep quality, it will both keep you accountable, as well as allow you to monitor your experiments with making lifestyle changes to see what is most effective.
So, there you have it. A comprehensive guide to why you should sleep and how to do so better.
Joompa is a digital platform that facilitates the sourcing and booking of freelance, mobile personal fitness coaches. Available on iOS or via www.joompa.com.my