Sleep is something that is fundamental to all of us and I have of course done a few experiments on the subject in the past few years. From tracking my sleep with a ZEO device or smartphone devices I’ve been able to get a good picture on how to improve sleep quality.
This article will start with things to avoid, and then tricks to help you sleep better which will include natural sleeping pills.
What you MUST avoid
1) Blue Light from electronic devices, destroys your bodies natural melatonin cycle
If you watch TV, work on a computer or simply have normal lights in your room, this is harming your sleep due to the spectrum of blue in the light which prevents your body to start fully going into “sleep mode” until everything is turned off (or you are so exhausted you pass out, with shitty sleep quality). Basically the sun emits blue light, so the lack of blue light entering our skin or eyes is a signal to our body to go sleep, and our body would start to produce a natural sleep hormone, melatonin, to regulate our sleep cycles. Blue light from electronic devices stops this release.
Solution: If you have a TV, buy “blue filtering screens” for your TV but ideally you should just move on to your computer and install f.lux which is a free application that you can manually or automatically at certain times make it remove the blue light from your screen (it will look a bit more orange). I do this ideally 1+ hour before going to bed. On your iPhone, you have no software solution (a blue blocking screen is always possible again) unless it is jailbroken, then you can install f.lux. Now that I have an android phone, I find the twilight app does a great job. This is probably one of the best ways to prevent insomnia naturally. In my case, since I work on the computer I have to also stop working and shut my mind off, by either reading fiction or watching a TV show on my laptop. Don’t forget to close the lights in the room also, unless you buy lights that do no emit the blue spectrum they will obviously also harm your sleep timing.
2) You want absolute darkness while sleeping.
If you are a night owl like me, you wake up many hours after the sun is in the sky. The sun rays passing from cracks in the curtains will harm your sleep quality (slowing/removing the release of melatonin) or simply constantly wake you up.
Solution: If your curtains do not completely block the light, make sure to always wear an eye mask and ear plugs. I have used many over the years and this one from amazon is by far the best, the elastic has behind seems very durable and its adjustable even if it did get loose, unlike all the other ones I bought at my local pharmacies. For ear plugs (if needed) its a personal preference, some I hate some I love… But most of them tend to get lost by leaving my ear during sleep… I haven’t found a perfect solution, but I definitely need them on the road as I never can guarantee if my hostel/hotel/apartment will be noisy or not.
Things to help you sleep
1) Taking melatonin supplements
As you read above, melatonin production being blocked is most likely the culprit for many people suffering from insomnia. An easy solution is to simply take it in supplement form. While side effects have not been established, most supplement companies put WAY too much of it. The body naturally produces very little melatonin (milligrams, mcg) while most melatonin for sale in stores will be of dosages around 3 milligrams (mg) to 5mg. While I took that dosage for a while, after breaking up my tablets into smaller pieces I found no difference in my ability to sleep easily, nowadays I just buy my melatonin supplements from life extension because they offer low doses and time release capsules which is very key, because you want a stable amount of melatonin comming in, not a big burst then nothing, ideally. You can find it on Amazon (in the US) in the 300mcg dosage or here on iHerb (Anywhere else in the world) and you can use my $10 off coupon IFI934. If you don’t mind breaking them up, feel free to buy the 3mg variant and experimenting with lower doses. I take lower doses thinking that if melatonin has one side effect, it might be your body diminishing its own natural production, and since I take it regularly now I try to avoid the risk with low doses, since the benefits do not go up either way. An added benefit is for those trying to do lucid dreaming, melatonin has helped me a lot with lucid dreaming (taking control of your dreams, basically playing inception).
2) Solve any magnesium deficiencies!
As I noted in my post on solving magnesium deficiency, most of us are deficient in this very important mineral for the sole reason that our public drinking water nowadays is completely filtered out of it. One benefit of supplementing with it is the muscle relaxation it induces (I get cramps if I do not supplement) which also helps you sleep very well. I take 400mg a night 1 hour before sleep, with water is fine, or the “special sleep tea” noted below. The only form of magnesium to avoid is magnesium oxide (around 10% of it is absorbed by the body, but sadly it is the one most common in stores), the other ones like citrate or malate (link to the one I use from amazon) (and many others) are all useful. Some people have bowel problems using citrate, but that is not me so I alternate between various forms.
3) Control your blood sugar levels before sleep.
A final tip that might help for those with trouble sleeping at night is to simply limit your consumption of food before going to bed and also experiment with drinking a tablespoon of honey, potentially mixed with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in hot water, to stabilize your sugar levels. Honey comes in two forms, fructose and glucose. With glucose being digested less fast which nourishes your brain a few hours later. Another tip in the same type from Tim Ferris is to use almond butter on celery sticks. I have not had much improvements with either, but I am very careful of my diet (low sugar overall, so no spikes during the day)