Let's Talk About Sleep

(Wrote this about two weeks ago, when I was sleeping really poorly. Still not great, but getting better.)

I've been sleeping really poorly as of late, this week in particular. Last night I finally got a full 8 hours of sleep, but possibly only because I was exhausted from four nights of 4-5 hours of tossing and turning.

This post is partly for me. I wouldn't call myself an insomniac, I fall asleep just fine. But I tend to wake up in the middle of the night, say 3am or so. I'm wide awake, sometimes even feeling a bit panicky. Or I wake up bored and just figuratively twiddle my thumbs.

I hate it.

Not only am I not getting the necessary recovery and physical refueling I need for a very physical job and lifestyle, the mental weight of knowing I only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night is stressful. Which adds to the stress that might be causing me to not sleep in the first place. Le sigh. First world problems, no?

I'm going to discuss some things I've done and will be trying to get sleep back in line. If you're having trouble, hopefully some of these tricks will work for you.

Completely Dark

We installed blackout curtains over our windows and I made ManFriend put electrical tape over the millions upon millions of LED lights that glow from electronics in his office area. I also put my alarm clock face down during the night so it's not glowing at me and that makes me less tempted to watch the minutes tick by when I do wake up.

Noise Free

The blackout curtains also help curtail the noise from the street. Our windows face a pretty busy city street and this makes a huge difference. We also make sure to have things turned off when not in use.

Tempurature

I heat up a lot when I sleep. I had ManFriend turn off some five CPUs that he had running 247 that he didn't really use. I also now only use a couple of sheets rather than a comforter over me (I have to have something). I also apparently stiff-arm ManFriend in my sleep so I don't have to deal with his body heat. That makes me laugh because I have no recollection of doing it.

Protein Before Bed

Not only is this supposed to help your body recover faster from exercise and training, it allows your liver to maintain blood glucose throughout the night. When sugar stores get low, cortisol will rise in an attempt to move more glucose from the liver to the blood stream. If cortisol gets too high, you will wake up and at the worst, wake up in a panic.

Supplements

ZMA

These pills of zinc, magnesium, and B12 are supposed to help you sleep deeper and help protect you from catabolic processes that can happen during the fasted state of sleeping. I don't like using the phrase "anabolic assist" since "anabolic" has such negative connotations with the general public, but that really is what it does.

Melatonin

Our bodies naturally produce melatonin throughout the day in response to sunlight cycles. Since many of us are working indoors, we often do get that hormone cycle happening, one hormone in many that controls our circadian rhythms. Taking melatonin before bed can help get your body to shut down.

5-HTP

This compound is a precursor for melatonin, with the added benefit of being a precursor for serotonin, so is sometimes also used as an antidepressant aid along with the sleep benefits.

Adaptogenic Herbs

This one was just recommended to me in case my poor sleep patterns are related to adrenal fatigue. Since I haven't tried them yet, I can't personally attest to their efficacy, but they are supposed to help even out your energy levels they way your adrenal hormones are supposed to do, but do to fatigue, no longer can. I'll post about these again once I've tried them myself.

If you know of any other tricks…

I'm always looking for other tips and tricks to get the best sleep possible. We live in an age where we have some of the fastest technological and medical improvements coming around that make our lives easier in one way, but also more stressful and busy in other ways. Sleep is sometimes our one retreat away from it all. Let's make it the best we can!