I have noticed that 2018 has started with a lot of ‘self-care’ articles published in the media. One area I have been looking at for a while is SLEEP.
Sleep is such an important of our lives, as part of the recovery/reset process every day. However, for many, they do not get enough of it for many different reasons. So I have decided to write about some of the products that I have been trying out to improve my sleep.
I have recently been reading an interesting book by Nick Littlehales called Sleep. In it he sheds light on how we should sleep Instead of trying to sleep 7 ½ to 8 hours a night, sometimes this is not possible. We sleep in cycles of 90 minutes (during which we go through the 4 stages of sleep) and on an average night we have 4 or 5 cycles. Over a week, we should try and have 35 cycles and not worry about what we achieve on one night alone where we might have had a bad night’s sleep. 28 to 30 cycles a week is an OK amount according to the author.
The point he makes, for example, is that if you have a set time in the morning you have to wake up, say 6.30am, you should calculate backwards in 90 mins cycles until you come to the time that you should go to sleep. The aim is that you wake at the end of a cycle and feel fresh and awake rather than in the middle of say, Stage 3 - Deep Sleep .
Here is an example, if you have to get up tomorrow at 6.30am:
Wake up Time; 6.30am
The 5th cycle starts: 5.00am
The 4th cycle starts: 3.30am
The 3rd cycle starts: 2.00am
The 2nd cycle starts: 12.30am
The 1st cycle starts: 11.00pm
If you have to get up at 6.30am, the author would recommend that you switch off your light and go to sleep at 11pm. Otherwise, he says you should stay up until the start of your next sleep cycle at 12.30am. Or he says you could go to sleep at 9.30pm if you are exhausted. However, do not worry, if on one night you only get 3 or 4 cycles in the night; you are allowed to catch up with Controlled Recovery Periods (a nap to you and me) between 1pm - 3pm and 5pm – 7pm. These naps should not last longer than 90mins in the afternoon and 30mins in the evening.
The whole point of timing when you go to bed is to hopefully feel good in the morning when the alarm clock goes off.
Currently, I also am testing some of his sleeping kit – the R90 PostureMAX 50 topper and the Clusterfull Mattress enhancer.
The R90 mattress topper is really excellent and am loving it. Unlike the Tempur mattress I have under it, the topper does not make you overheat and has very good ventilation. Also I am now sleeping on my side.
I found enhancer made me too warm and am no longer using it.
Have a read of his book - Sleep by Nick Littlehales
For those who travel, we all know how the circadian rhythm is affected by the different time zones. I have been trying out the HumanCharger over the last year to help me when I travel to adjust to the new time zone and also when I might be feeling tired during the day.
Recent discoveries have shown that there are photosensitive receptors throughout the human brain, much like those located in the retina of the eye. Photosensitive receptors can be accessed by light flowing through the ear canals and ear structure. When these photosensitive areas of the brain are stimulated by light, it affects the neural circuits in the brain via neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline).
As a result, when using the HumanCharger, you experience an increase in energy levels, improved mood, increased mental alertness and quicker recovery from the effects of jet lag. You only need to use it for between 4 to 12 minutes.
Blue light filter
Light is the most crucial element that sets our circadian rhythm. However, blue light is a wavelength we are particularly sensitive to. This wavelength is prevalent during the day when the sun is shining, and that is good for us, but it is also present in all our computers and iPhones and iPads. So when we go to bed in the evening, we do not really want to have that wavelength present as it suppresses the production of melatonin which is the hormone which will help you sleep well. The presence of blue light in the evening can lead to what Professor Chris Idzikowski calls ‘junk sleep’ – disrupted and diminished sleep.
So I have been trying out these anti-blue light reading glasses in the evening. I have to say that by the time I switch off my light at night, I am feeling drowsy, even when I have been looking at my iPhone. My son has been using non-reading plain glass anti-blue light glasses in the evening when he is doing his homework and he says he is sleeping much better too.
Doc Parsley’s Sleep Remedy
Another product I have tried in the last year is Doc Parsley’s Sleep Remedy. Designed by Doctor Kirk Parsley, an ex-Navy Seal and who served as Naval Special Warfare’s expert on Sleep Medicine. While serving with the Seals, he noticed how these elite soldiers were suffering from sleep deprivation; not recovering from workouts; had trouble concentrating and were emotionally unstable. Many were using heavy dose sleeping pills such as Ambien to help sleep while on ops, where they did most of their work at night and slept during the day. They were also missing out on any exposure to the sunlight as they were either sleeping or covered in uniform from head to foot. So over time, he managed to get them off the sleeping pills and replace it with a natural product he produced to reset their bodies.
This extract is taken from a podcast where Dr Kirk Parsley is talking about sleep – click here
Dr Parsley: Right. And that’s the biggest obstacle when people consult with me. I can tell them, “I want you only to eat kale for 6 months.” They’d be like, “Okay. Check. Kale for 6 months.” And I’d be like, “Meditate 2 hours a day.” “Exercise 2 hours.” “Okay.”
And then, “I want you to sleep 8 hours.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I can’t do that.”
Dr Parsley: But the truth is the research is really clear. Again, sleep research does not vary. It’s not controversial. The research is really clear. If you deprive yourself of an hour of sleep, you lose an hour and 15 minutes of efficiency. If you’re primarily doing a skilled task or a cognitive task. If you’re making decisions… if you’re writing, if you’re being creative, if you’re running a business – you’re losing 15 minutes by losing an hour of sleep. And then you’re also setting yourself up for diabetes and obesity and chronic inflammation…
Taken from Dr Parsley's website, his Sleep Remedy has been specially designed to replenish the nutritionally and stress-induced deficiencies that interfere with normal physiologic cascades that lead to deep, restful, and restorative sleep.
The remedy is simply very small amounts of the nutrients involved in the production of melatonin:-
- Vitamin D3
- …and a very small dose of melatonin.
He goes on to say that an increase in brain GABA levels, is also a normal player in the initiation of sleep, so they have included a small amount of a GABA derivative that can cross into the brain–called “phGABA”. The quantities of each ingredient are intended to replenish normal levels of these nutrients, to allow for the normal production of melatonin, and to help initiate the initial cascade of events that lead to deep, natural sleep. The Sleep Remedy is designed to restore commonly deficient nutrients associated with sleep. In Dr Parsley’s experience, once these nutrients have been restored to optimal levels, most people have vastly improved sleep.
Sleepy Cow Calming Pillow Mist Spray
Finally, I have tried out the Cowshed Sleepy Cow Calming Pillow Mist Spray. As I discovered, this has been the secret to many of the GB Olympic team’s success. This spray has been used by athletes on their pillow the night before they are competing when they might be nervous, have butterflies in their stomach and are struggling to get to sleep. The calming ingredients of Melissa and Lemon Myrtle essential oils seem to work, along with St John’s Wort and Lady Mantle extracts. Indeed, it is a very pleasant smell.
I hope some of these might help you if you need it. As ever, we continue to help with individual performance. Interested to learn more? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org