John Milton in his magnum opus, Paradise Lost, was not necessarily talking about the modern man’s insomniac tendencies. Rather he, being a sedulous, hardworking scholar and a blind poet could be indifferent towards it. Nevertheless, many people face trouble getting a sound sleep these days. Oddly enough, few consider the lack of sleep as a bragging right. You may seem to work just fine with less sleep but soon it will catch up to you. Sleeping inadequately doesn’t make you a tough guy, rather it can convert you into a limp-wristed, pansy, skinny-fat, retard train wreck (1-3).
Pride In Sleeplessness
Recently a famous blogger, admittedly a bad sleeper, in his caffeine induced jabbering during his podcast counseled listeners to under sleep. He was capitalizing this advice on many famous celebrity insomniacs. If all of insomnia and sleeplessness could translate into greatness, we’d been witnessing a magnificent era of excellence unseen before. But it’s not so, and insomnia is as bad for productivity as the sloth. Correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation. Greatness comes from creativity and restlessness, not sleeplessness.
Getting back to sleep and recovery, the circadian rhythm in your body doesn’t just determine your sleep cycle, but also energy, hunger, insulin sensitivity and protein synthesis. Shift workers are well acquainted with these facts.
Night Time Sleeping
The circadian rhythm is established by the amount of exposure to light. Eyes sense light and communicate with the brain via nerve cells. Brain in response releases chemicals and hormones, particularly melatonin (released by pineal gland), which send the signals to relax and chill out. When it’s bright outside your body produces less melatonin and more of the stimulatory adrenal hormones to keep you alert. But in the dark, the melatonin production increases to put you to sleep. It could be attributed to our ancient cave dwelling genes. This concludes our basic circadian clock lesson 101.
Since the advent of electricity, our circadian relationship with light is kinda screwed up. To worsen things, the light from your electronic devices especially blue light disrupts your sleep further. Since the message to sleep and melatonin signaling is determined by light, the fluorescent room lights, watching tv in the night, laptops or mobile phones etc are all contributing to give you sleepless nights.
How To Relax
- Reduce the use of t.v, cell phones, tablets, laptops etc. in the evening. Dim the screen of your gadgets or use apps like f.lux to reduce the blue light exposure.
- Use amber-red lights for room lighting in your bedroom after dusk. It has been shown to almost double the melatonin levels.
- In the morning open up the curtains to expose yourself to the natural sunlight. Exposure to lots of light in the morning will improve your alertness and help get your circadian rhythm back in right order.
- Develop a sleeping routine by setting yourself in the relaxing mood by following a ritual like reading fiction, having chamomile tea or meditation etc. Wake and sleep every day at the same time. If needed, use a supplement containing phenibut, L-theanine, 5-HTP, or ZMA instead of prescription sleep medicines.
- Cortés-Gallegos V,et al Sleep deprivation reduces circulating androgens in healthy men. Arch Androl. (1983).
- Hairston KG,et al Sleep duration and five-year abdominal fat accumulation in a minority cohort: the IRAS family study . Sleep. (2010).
- Sio UN, Monaghan P, Ormerod TSleep on it, but only if it is difficult: Effects of sleep on problem solving . Mem Cognit. (2012).