Health 102: Sleeping

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Health 101: What Health Is

There are terrible risks of losing sleep

  • Physiological (short-term)
    • Increases inflammation and slows healing
    • Weakens immune system
    • Lessens effect of vaccines
    • Causes high blood pressure
    • Creates irregular heartbeats
    • Physically weaker
    • Intensifies chronic pains
    • Diminishes reaction time
    • Exponential risk of major car accident
    • Disrupts circadian rhythm (natural time clock)
    • Tremors
    • Aches
    • Diminished accuracy
    • Decreased body temperature
    • Slurred speech
  • Physiological (long-term)
    • Increases risk of cancer
    • Increases risk of diabetes
    • Increases risk of heart disease
    • Increases risk of stroke
    • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Weight gain
    • Permanent skin damage
    • Diminishes life expectancy
    • Destroys bone tissue
    • Stunts growth
    • Kills brain tissue
    • Increased chance of dying in general
  • Psychological
    • Causes higher levels of depression
    • More unstable mood swings
    • Increases anxiety and irritability
    • Creates difficulty in reading others’ emotions
    • Cluttered thoughts
    • Causes delusions, hallucinations and delusional thinking
    • Impedes learning
    • Diminishes stress management skills
    • Impairs judgment
    • Inhibits creativity
    • Memory problems in retaining, storing or retrieving
    • Increased perception of pain
    • Depression
  • Benefits of being well-rested
    • Looking better, in physical appearance and vitality
    • Better memory
    • General state of happiness
    • More energy
    • Higher likelihood of succeeding professionally
    • Happier and more well-behaved children, if you have any

Sleeping well isn’t hard if you know how to inspire it

  • There are tricks to cure insomnia
    • Take something
      • Drink chamomile tea or passion flower tea
      • Mix 5 parts raw organic honey with 1 part raw Himalayan sea salt, then put the mixture under your tongue before going to bed
      • Eat a spoonful of honey
      • Drink a glass of raw lemon juice
      • Have a night-time drink
        1. 1 cup (almond) milk, 1 tsp honey, 2 drops vanilla extract, 1 pinch ground cinnamon
        2. Heat milk on high until the milk is very hot and foams
        3. Stir in honey and vanilla and sprinkle cinnamon
    • It’s easier to fall asleep the less you think about trying to sleep
      • Mentally tell yourself that you are tired
        • Think of sleep-related words like relax, calm, rest, etc.
      • Think about the past
        • Thinking about the future will keep you up at night
        • Focus on what happened during your day
      • Count backwards from 99
      • Visualize counting something, such as sheep or cards
      • Read a book in bed
    • Inspire sleep with your body’s state
      • Practice 4-7-8 deep breathing (4 second inhale, 7 second hold, 8 second exhale)
      • Blink fast for a minute to make the eyes tired
      • Stay completely still for 15 minutes
      • Take a hot shower to relax the body
      • Stretch out your legs and back
      • Set the thermostat 65-72°F to cool down the body
        • A cooler body falls asleep more quickly since it cools down naturally when it sleeps
        • Make a wind tunnel with a box fan if it’s still too hot to sleep
        • Wet a t-shirt, wring it out as much as possible and wear it to bed
        • Put an ice pack under the pillow and flip it over when the pillow gets too warm
      • Lay down on your right side, since you’ll get to sleep faster than on your left
        • Pay attention to how you wake up, since that position is the most comfortable to go to sleep to
    • Some problems may be keeping you from sleeping
      • If you have allergies that act up, take a shower to get the pollen off of you
      • If you have back pain
        • When on your face put a towel or thin pillow under your groin area
        • While on your side put a pillow between your legs
        • When on your back put a towel under your knees
      • If your nose is congested, leave a sliced onion overnight near the bed
      • If you have coughs at night
        • Eat a spoonful of honey
        • Put Vick’s Vapo-Rub on your feet and put on socks
      • If you have cramps, drink a mix of 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar with a little honey and water
      • If you have indigestion, sleep on your right side
      • If you keep waking up in the middle of the night, eat a slice of bread or peanut butter to go back to bed
      • If your roommate’s or significant other’s phone alarm is going off and you can’t reach it, call the phone to disable their alarm
    • If you need something drastic
      • Look at photos or videos of other people sleeping
      • Read a boring book in bed
      • Cuddle with or have sex with your significant other before going to bed
      • Play the didgeridoo
      • Go camping for a week without electronics to synchronize your melatonin to sunrise and sunset
  • Throughout the day make your sleep cycle work correctly
    • Stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water
    • Exercise regularly
      • As little as 10 minutes a day can make you tired at an appropriate time
      • Exercise heats the body up for 4-5 hours, so avoid doing it right before bed
    • Stressful situations can delay sleep or reduce deep sleep
    • Make sleep part of your routine
      • Learn to de-stress, meditate and wind down at the end of the day
      • Listen to the same song every time you’re tired, then play it back when you can’t sleep
      • Have a routine involving pajamas and a cup of tea in bed by a specific time
    • Avoid these things before bedtime
      • Alcohol can initially cause sleep, but will minimize REM sleep
      • Caffeine can diminish deep sleep
      • Eating will make the heart rate go up to digest food for up to 4 hours and increases waking up in the middle of the night
      • Fasting can make it hard to get to sleep
      • Light can confuse the body’s clock
      • Blue light from using a computer close to bedtime can delay sleep and increase waking up later
      • Noise can interrupt your sleeping, use earplugs if you need
      • Pets in the bedroom can interrupt your sleep
      • Sleeping pills can disrupt natural sleep cycles
      • Wireless networks may run the risk of interfering with natural rhythms
  • Napping during the day can cause very different results
    • 10 – 20 minutes
      • Ideal for a boost in alertness and energy
      • Limited to lighter sleep stages and is non-REM
      • Very useful for getting creative answers and for a quick re-focusing
    • After an all-nighter, a 15-20 minute nap right before the sun comes up will reset the body’s clock
    • According to NASA, the perfect nap should last 26 minutes
      • Taking coffee right before a nap will guarantee waking up 20-30 minutes later
    • 30 minutes
      • May cause sleep inertia (a hangover-like groggy effect for up to 30 minutes after waking up) before the nap’s effects become apparent
    • 60 minutes
      • Best nap for improving recall of facts, faces and names
      • Includes slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage
    • 90 minutes
      • A full cycle of sleep, which includes lighter and deeper stages including REM
      • Leads to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity
      • Typically avoids sleep inertia
    • Healthy adults who don’t get as much sleep as they’d like to should take naps
    • The older people get the less time they will want for napping
    • Sitting slightly upright keeps from sleeping deeply
    • Ideal napping time is usually between 1PM – 4PM, depending on the sleep cycle
    • Napping too late in the day or over 20 minutes can interfere with sleep cycles
  • Have a consistent and full sleep schedule – it takes 7 days to shift a sleeping pattern, but only 1 day to return to an old one
    • Learn how much sleep you really need
      • Falling asleep within 5 minutes of lying down is a sign of sleep deprivation
      • Track when you need to fall asleep naturally with Sleepyti.me
    • There are three different natural patterns (chronotypes) people have
      • Early chronotype (morning people) – 10% of population
        • Productivity peaks at 9 A.M.
      • Late chronotype (night owls) – 20% of population
        • Productivity peaks at 9 P.M.
      • Intermediate chronotype (middle of day) – 70% of population
        • Productivity varies across the day
    • Wake up at the same time every morning
      • If you wake up before the alarm goes off, don’t go back to bed, since that’s your body’s natural clock waking you
      • Don’t binge sleep on the weekends
    • If you want to reset your cycle, stop eating during the 12-16 hour period before you want to be awake, break the fast when you want to wake up in the future
    • There are multiple schedules to keep, and it may be better to do something unconventional:
      • Monophasic – the most common one: 7-9 hours/night
      • Segmented Sleep (Biphasic) – scientifically is the most natural: 3-4 hours at a time, 6-8 hours/night
      • Siesta Sleep (Biphasic) – very common in many European countries: 5-6 hours/night and 20-90 minutes during the day
      • Triphasic – easy to switch to from monophasic: every 8 hours sleep 1.5 hours then awake 6.5 hours
      • Everyman – second most intense to adapt to: sleep 4.5-6 hours, then 2 20-minute naps in the day; alternately sleep 3-4 hours with 3 20-minute naps
      • Dual Core Sleep – sleep around dusk, then around dawn, then several naps in the afternoon
      • Uberman – most commonly attempted and failed, very long adaptation period: 6-8 20-minute naps/day
      • Dymaxion – rarely ever accomplished as a sustainable sleep cycle: 4 30-minute naps/day
      • SPAMAYL – Sleep Polyphasically As Much As You Like, much more popular and more flexible: 7-10 naps, ~20 minutes/nap

Traveling to a new place is almost always hard on sleep

  • When we are somewhere our mind interprets as new, our brain stays alert throughout the night to protect us
    • This makes it much harder to fall asleep when we visit somewhere new
    • Gradually, the brain will lose its state of constant alertness and we’re able to sleep well
    • Frequent travelers become accustomed to sleeping anywhere, so they lose this ability naturally and can sleep anywhere
  • Make accommodations to prevent sleeplessness when traveling
    • Try to find a low-traffic area in a hotel, such as a top-level room
    • Use blackout curtains or blinds
    • Ask for or bring a white noise machine, earplugs and an eye mask
    • Bring your own pillow that you’re accustomed to the scent and feel of
    • Eat a light dinner that isn’t spicy, fatty or rich in carbohydrates that could upset the stomach
    • Pack and plan for the next day and put away all electronics to avoid having any active thinking
    • Take a hot bath to relax the muscles
    • Meditate and breathe deeply
    • Get up if you can’t sleep, this prevents the brain from expecting to simply lie down without sleeping
  • If you’re only going to be gone for a day or two, keep the synchronized pattern from back home
  • Jet lag is almost always unavoidable, so be prepared to fix your body’s rhythm
    • Drink a natural tea like Yerba Mate, ginkgo biloba or ginseng
    • Take a warm shower in the morning
    • Spend the day outside, ideally between 8 and 9 a.m.
    • Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon
    • Laughing for 15 minutes has the same effects as getting 2 hours of sleep
    • Wear “re-timer” glasses that emit a soft green light
    • Nap for up to 20 minutes at a time to get back on schedule
    • Avoid anything that can interfere with your sleep like coffee or alcohol
    • Take a cold shower in the evening

Everyone dreams, but not everyone remembers their dreams

  • There isn’t much scientific explanation about how or why we dream, but we all have them
    • Drinking half a glass of water before bed and half a glass when waking up can be a psychological cue to remembering all your dreams
    • Warm up the room before going to bed if you have trouble with nightmares
    • A chemical compound in apple juice is known to cause vivid and crazy dreams when drunk
  • There are many common dreams and they have relatively logical interpretations
    • Being Back At School – the work-related side of life
    • Being Cheated On – anxiety about real-life infidelity
    • Being Late or Unable to Perform – fear of failing at an upcoming event
    • Being Lost – insecurity or anxiety
    • Can’t Find the Bathroom – unable to express personal needs
    • Death – feeling a big negative change on the horizon for you or someone close to you or contemplating dying
    • Driving Out-of-Control Vehicle – feeling of being out of control
    • Falling – feeling a lack of control or insecurity, or a sense of failure
    • Flying – feeling freedom
      • Trouble Flying – impediment to freedom
    • Food – symbolizes energy, knowledge or nourishment
    • Houses – representative of the self, basements hold secrets while inner rooms are deep personal things
    • Nakedness – vulnerability and exposure in a situation
    • Paralysis – feeling of powerlessness
    • Pregnancy – growth or a new experience, unacknowledged desire to create something
    • Running – could be from a problem or struggle or to a goal or achievement
    • Sex/Friends – desire for others’ traits
    • Snakes – hidden threats
    • Spiders – manipulating a situation or feeling of being manipulated
    • Teeth – confidence and strength
      • Teeth Falling Out – loss of confidence or strength
    • Test/Exam Day – difficulties with managing life or failing at responsibilities
    • Unable to Make a Phone Call – communication problems
    • Vehicles – represents the power for us to achieve or move forward
    • Water – life or the emotional side of existence, the state of the water refers to feelings needing to be confronted
  • Lucid dreaming is the ability to control what’s going on in a dream without waking up
    • To tell if you’re dreaming check a clock twice, you’re dreaming if it’s drastically different the second time around
Next: Health 103: Having A Good Memory