|Posted on March 10, 2017 at 11:40 AM|
Written to an 8th grader from Albany Middle School on Friday, March 10, 2017:
Any habit you want to make, you can form in 21 days. I've written up a list you can pick from. If it's something challenging (e.g., I have the toughest time remembering to floss nightly), use happy face stickers on a wall calendar to keep track of your progress, and to reward yourself. Who doesn't enjoy stickers?
What I do for sleep is as follows:
- Try to exercise daily, but not right before bed. (After sunset, yang is retreating into yin, so it's not the right time for vigorous energy spending.)
- Stop eating after 8pm. (If your body is busy digesting food it will not want to go to sleep. When you are asleep your metabolism slows down, including digestion, and the body knows that to get the most out of your food you need to stay awake. This is why little kids who have dinner late hate being put to bed.)
- Stop using screens after 8pm. (Actually, this should be 'stop using artificial lights after the sun goes down' but as a human in the modern world I have a hard time following that rule, so I modified it. Our bodies make melatonin after dark which makes us feel sleepy a few hours after sunset, because we're a diurnal species. With all the electric lights and gadgets with glowing screens that we use, we trick our bodies into thinking it's still daytime and then we don't make enough melatonin to make us feel sleepy naturally. This is why you see melatonin supplements on the sleep & relaxation shelf at the health food store. Some of my patients don't even know that their bodies will make its own if you just give it some darkness!)
- Go camping. (Lots of readily available darkness, fresh air, and moonlight (which is good for regulating the mentrual cycle), and it's easier to unplug all your devices from the world wide web. I aim to go once a month this year to reset my body energy clock.)
- Be outside 10-15 minutes every day. (Sunlight makes serotonin, which turns into melatonin after dark. Exercising until you feel tired also increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel less melancholy and more happy. Direct sunlight also gives you Vitamin D3. Even when it's cloudy or rainy it's still better to spend a bit of time outdoors.)
- Avoid caffeine. (Coffee in particular unlocks your adrenal glands, giving you an adrenaline rush which makes you feel more awake temporarily but also depletes your body's reserves, a bad idea if you aren't replenishing your reserves with sleep. I don't drink coffee, but I like loose leaf tea, so if I'm having fancy black tea I will switch to hot water and lemon after noon.)
- Cuddle my cat. (Cats are masters of relaxation; they can lie around all day and then jump up to chase a mouse or a toy any moment they want to. Also I have heard there's been studies on how the vibration of purring is actually self-healing for a cat's internal organs. Finally, cats are a good indicator for the energetics of a room. They always pick the spot with the best qi to curl up, maybe because they have no human inhibitions.)
Some other things that people do:
- Use blackout curtains or eye covers to block out light.
- Use earplugs to block out sound.
- Don't use your bed for any activity but sleeping.
- Soak feet in hot water before bed. (I do this occasionally myself.)
- Use a white noise machine or delta wave meditation soundtrack.
- Slow breathing, especially lengthening the exhalation or out-breath gently.
- Drink chamomile or passionflower tea.
Categories: Sleep, Self-care Tips