Hiya, There are so many people I know who cannot sleep or don't sleep soundly in the night. (The hilariousness of this entry is that directly after writing the first sentence I lay my head down and passed out for a couple of hours.) I am not one of them. My sophomore year in college I once woke up on my couch with a note pinned to my shirt. It read, "Aina, I really think you should get your narcolepsy checked out. You fell asleep mid-sentence." I don't actually have narcolepsy, but I can pass the f*ck out in a moment's notice. Sleep is something that almost never eludes me. I have the ability to shut off my mind or put into it exactly what I want. I daydream and meditate. I can get into a deeply relaxed state in a flash and be up and ready with the same speed. This isn't the way it is for many people.
For so many sleep comes in fits and starts. You may be really sleepy and then try to go to bed and not be able to fall asleep for hours. You may fall asleep right away but have trouble sleeping through the night. You may have night terrors or sleep apnea. All of the disturbances in and around your sleep may lead to a life that feels more like a slow death than a vibrant fun experience. Sleep is as important as breathing. You need it to live.
Now, for those who don't know, the pineal gland secretes melatonin when it detects an absence of light and is inhibited when the retina detects light. Production of melatonin peaks during nighttime hours and helps create changes in your body that would promote sleep, such as decreased body temperature and rate of respiration. Now receptors for melatonin are found in the pituitary gland, ovaries, suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), blood vessels and intestinal tract. I will let you know that melatonin affects women's menstrual cycles, mating cycles in some mammals, skin color in amphibians, and has anti-aging properties. The part that is key for me to communicate to you is how your diet plays into your sleep… after all there are receptors to melatonin in your intestinal tract.
What we eat affects everything in our lives. How we think, what we think, how we communicate, dream, feel. Food is the chemical/fuel/stuff that keeps us running. We put a lot of things into our bodies, these beautifully made machines, that have no value outside of entertainment. If you have sleep issues there could be a myriad of problems and you could probably get some relief without changing your diet… but if you did decide to change your diet, you would surely see a difference in your sleep patterns. You would also see a difference in just about every other area of your life that you may not be happy with. Food is true medicine.
Sugar, artificial flavorings and preservatives , processed foods, caffeine and any other sort of stimulant reduce melatonin secretion in the body. Chronic stress decreases melatonin secretion. Too much light in your bedroom will also reduce the secretion. Here is a challenge for all those experiencing sleep disturbances: 1) cut out sugar. 2) cut out processed foods 3) cut out caffeine 4) exercise 5) hydrate well throughout your day 6) make your bedroom as dark as you can. Cutting out all lights from alarms and phones and from the outside and 7) meditate. Meditation can be a powerful sleep inducer. Forget that you are supposed to stay awake when you meditate. If you have issues sleeping and meditation gets you into a state of deep relaxation, then use it. There are many guided meditations you can use if you aren't a meditator already.
There are so many other things you can do as well, like turning your phone off, keeping animals off the bed, keeping the temperature in your bedroom cool, having an orgasm (through masturbation or not) or cutting out all noise with some sort of white noise machine (on your phone there are apps or you can buy one). Because the list goes on and on let's just start with the first 7 I mentioned. What do you have to lose except more sleep by not practicing my suggestions? If you do accept the challenge, let me know and comment on how it went.
Now, time for bed.. :)