Sunday, November 01, 2009

Some Tips to Optimizing Sleep. Haha

Sleeping in darkness improves sleep quality. But darkness isn’t always achievable. Use it when you feel like you need a sleep quality boost, or when your sleep too far overlaps daytime.

Keep wake-up times consistent and sleep quality will improve dramatically, giving you more energy and decreased sleep need. Your body has an internal 24-hour clock which controls your circadian rhythm. Sleep quality is optimized during a very specific window of your circadian rhythm. If you learn to sleep exactly within that window you will enjoy the best sleep of your life. That is, you want to perfectly hit the “circadian low-point”, which is the time when your body is programmed to sleep. Keep wake-up times consistent. Even on weekends. Your sleep quality will skyrocket.

Free-running sleep means:
1. Go to sleep when tired.
2. Wake up without an alarm.
Early studies on circadian rhythm showed that our internal clocks run on a 25-hour period when isolated from external stimuli like daylight and timekeeping. External cues like sunlight reset our circadian rhythm and match it with the 24 hour day. These cues are called zeitgebers. (Other zeitgebers are food, exercise, and social interaction). Even with a 25h internal clock, humans have slept with the 24h day before alarm clocks were invented. Artificial light prolongs the internal clock. To wake up without an alarm clock, don’t expose yourself to too much artificial light at night. That will shift your internal clock forward. Many insomniacs have circadian rhythms that run on 26 or 27 hour periods. It is difficult to entrain a 27-hour internal clock with a 24-hour external clock. Solution: free-running sleep with 27-hour days. Go to bed when you’re tired, wake up naturally. Obviously hard to manage if you’re not self-employed or on vacation. Studies show that free-running sleepers experience a 10-15% boost in creativity compared to those who use an alarm clock. Health-wise, free-running sleep is the optimal sleep schedule. It can be synced with the 24h day, but with artificial lights (like computer monitors) it might run out of sync, which is OK too.

Caffeine takes 30 minutes after ingestion to enter your bloodstream and have an effect on your concentration. Chug some caffeine before a nap. You will wake up naturally 20-30m later once the caffeine kicks in. Wake up with a huge boost of energy and perhaps a mild euphoria. Set an alarm as backup. Limit the nap to 25 minutes so that you don’t enter deep sleep. It sounds weird, but gives it a try. Haha

Levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” spike in the morning and decrease throughout the day. Cortisol levels should be as low as possible when you go to bed. High cortisol levels during sleep drastically decrease slow-wave sleep (SWS) amount, meaning you won’t wake up refreshed.
Facilitate the natural decrease in cortisol levels by…
1. Eating breakfast in the morning
2. Eating low glycemic index meals instead of high GI meals.
3. Don’t go 5 hours without food.
4. Don’t skip meals, but don’t eat heavy meals either.
Follow these rules and cortisol will decrease, your sleep quality will improve, daily energy will improve, sleep need will reduce.

Eat breakfast within 1 hour of waking up. This does 2 things.
1. It regulates your hormonal rhythms (e.g. cortisol rhythm).
2. It acts as a zeitgeber. Just like sunlight, it will reset your body clock. Ensures that your sleep schedule is properly synced with your body clock. It will give you more energy throughout the day and better sleep the following night.

For some reason, it appears that it is easier for humans to push our body clocks forward. It only takes 1 day of sleeping in to push our clocks forward by 3 hours, but it takes 3 days of waking up early to reset it to normal. This is why some have adopted the 28-hour day. Why 28? It syncs with the 168-hour week. Six 28-hour days instead of seven 24-hour days. Good for those who want to be awake in the evening and night during weekends (for going out).

The sleep hacks so far have required adapting to new sleep schedules. When you first adopt a new sleep habit, like waking up at 6am every morning, you will struggle and feel tired. But keep it up for a while. It sometimes takes 7-10 days for a new schedule to “click”. One older study followed six 8-hour sleepers for over a year. Once every 5 weeks the subjects reduced their sleep by 30m. Started at 8 hours, then 7.5, 7.0, 6.5, etc… All subjects reported that every time they reduced sleep by 30m the first 7-10 days were difficult. But after 7-10 days their energy levels “clicked.” Programming new sleep habits can be difficult. Go gradually if possible and give each incremental change a few days to click.


The same study from above showed that it might be possible to train ourselves to need less sleep. The six 8-hour sleepers continued to reduce sleep by 30m increments until they were sleeping as low as 4.5-hours a night (wtf!). The subjects experienced severe fatigue below the 6.0-hour mark, but I guess their suffering was in the name of science… After the study was over, the researchers caught up with the subjects the following year. It turned out that all subjects were naturally, by choice, sleeping 1-2 hours below their pre-study baseline – i.e. they were sleeping 6-7 hours instead of 8. Is this evidence that by gradually reducing our sleep need and giving our bodies time to adapt we can make a permanent change in our sleep need? Perhaps.

I’m a religious napper. I rarely go a day without one. NASA states that "an afternoon nap increases productivity by 35% and decision making ability by up to 50%". Hopefully you’re convinced… Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a nap? |^_^)/ Adult humans are naturally biphasic. We’re neurologically wired for the afternoon nap. The “afternoon dip” occurs between the 6th and 8th hour after waking up – that’s 1pm-3pm if you rise at 7am. Naps naturally (i.e. without an alarm) last for 20-60m, sometimes up to 90 but rarely longer. If a nap lasts longer than 90m it can mean two things:
1. You are sleep deprived.
2. Your nap occurred much later than 3pm.


The tiniest amount of light can disrupt circadian rhythm and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. LEDs from alarm clocks and computers, although dim, actually do have a measurable effect on sleep quality. Darker sleep increases melatonin which increases sleep quality and promotes good health. Turn off or cover all LEDs. If you wake up to go to the bathroom, turning the light on will immediately cease all production of melatonin. Don’t drink water to the point where you have to wake up at night. It seems like a small detail, but the pineal gland really is that sensitive.

Temperature is closely linked with circadian rhythm. Core body temperature drops around bed time. Sleep in a cool room so as to not counteract your circadian rhythm. Cool temperature will give you higher quality sleep. If possible, keep the room as cool as possible without making it uncomfortably cold. Too cold and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night. Our bodies were designed to sleep optimally at cooler temperatures.

Certain models of in-ear headphones are designed to isolate outside noise by 35dB. Best used for airplane rides, studying, or while meditating to meditation CDs (outside traffic nearly ruins the experience of meditation…) In-ear headphones have become my favorite napping gadget. In-ear headphones fit in your ear canal like ear plugs, hence the noise isolation. The right models are curiously comfortable.

One study compared short sleepers to long sleepers. The study found “The short-sleepers tended to be efficient, energetic, and ambitious… The long-sleepers, as a group, showed more doubts about their career choices and life situations.” A positive attitude toward life, a certain drive and ambition, appears to improve sleep quality and reduce people’s sleep need. Another study showed that long sleepers had less energy and more examples of psychopathology. We can’t tell whether it’s the positive attitude toward life that causes more efficient sleep, or if naturally efficient sleep causes the positive attitude. But who cares? Because developing a positive attitude has its own inherent benefits. As a bonus, there’s a good chance it will give you more energy, more refreshing sleep, and a reduced need for sleep.


So simple, yet so effective.  Set one alarm with a pleasant, quiet buzzer within arm’s reach. Set a second alarm with a very obnoxious buzzer in a hard to reach place in the corner, on top of a shelf  for 5 minutes after the first alarm. You wake up to the first alarm and hop out of bed to quickly turn off the second. The second alarm will punish you for pressing snooze on the first. Now that you’re up, the rest is easy. Go shower. Works well if you sleep with your spouse. First alarm won’t wake him/her up, and you have to get up immediately to turn off alarm #2.


Here are two studies that show how mere belief can change sleep quality:
1. First study. When insomniacs in this study were told that they slept better/more than they did, they felt and performed better during the day when compared to insomniacs who were not told anything about their sleep quality yet who got the same amount of sleep.
2. Second study. Subjects were divided into 3 groups. Time cues and clocks were taken away. All groups went to sleep, and researchers woke everyone up after exactly 8 hours. Group 1 was told they slept 6 and were being sleep deprived for the study. Group 2 was told they slept 10 hours. Group 3 was told the truth. Group 1 complained of sleepiness, irritability and poor concentration. Group 2 complained of lethargy. Group 3 reported feeling fine.
Is sleep need just in our heads? Not quite. Sleep is a biological drive at its core. But psychology can influence the subjective quality of our sleep.

Your brain has a built-in alarm clock. People knew this for years. When you’re stressed out about waking up in time for that important flight/meeting/exam early tomorrow morning… What do you do? You set 5 alarms just in case. Somehow you wake up 3 minutes before all of them… how did your brain do that? It has a built-in alarm.
Only recently has science discovered the biological basis of this alarm. The wake-up process occurs via increased blood flow to the brain, which is facilitated by the stress hormones ACTH and cortisol. By anticipating (or stressing over) a wake-up time we set our internal alarm clock. When the anticipated wake-up time arrives, the brain signals the pituary and adrenal glands to spike ACTH and cortisol. And you wake up.
So how do you use this to your advantage? If you want to learn to wake up easily, refreshed, with a jolt of energy and most importantly without an alarm clock, then it helps to psychologically pep yourself before you go to bed. Your brain will program itself to anticipate the scheduled wake-up time. The internal alarm clock will replace your external alarm clock.

Fall in love, hmmm…..
One study on high school students showed that honeymoon romantics…
1. Had more energy
2. Slept about 1 hour less than a control group
3. Reported greater subjective sleep quality

Help facilitate the cortisol wake-up mechanism.
Create a morning reward. Something to get you excited.
1. Set out ingredients for your favorite breakfast the night before. Get    excited to get up and eat.
2. Set up your favorite coffee or tea.  
3. Morning sex. Huh? Convince your partner to try it.
You’ll wake up easier than you have in years. Some of my morning rewards have been silly and trivial but they were enough to get me excited and wake up with a boost of cortisol. Pick rewards that work for you.


kerja keras adalah energi kita on November 4, 2009 at 1:09 AM said...

that picture is so funny.. the cat was so sleepy...
distance learning business and management
distance learning and sharing knowledge


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