Tuesday, May 24, 2016

FARMACY: HACKING SLEEP


T H E   G U I D E   |   B E D S I D E   T A B L E   M A N N E R S 
An updated guide to biohacking your brain + body into sweeter slumbers, from moonlit rituals to bedside staples — 26 years and a third of your life in bed, well-spent . . . 



r e s t i n g   r i t u a l s 
w i n i n g   +  d i n i n g | Eating a heavy meal, especially close to when you slip into bed, can wreck havoc on your sleep cycle. The body can rest most optimally when dinner has been digested well, so allow three hours between dinner and bedtime. Cut out caffeine after 2 p.m., as its effects can carry through the evening and cause difficulty falling asleep. Try to limit alcohol consumption as well accompanying a light dinner—breakfast and lunch should be your main and large sources of fuel.

f i t t n e s s  | Similar to dinner close to bedtime, rigorous exercise often disrupts the sleep cycle although some people claim to rest better with an evening regimen. Experiment with what feels right for your body with keeping this in mind and try a yin yoga routine instead, focusing on pacifying vata qualities—the Ayurvedic Medicine constitution primarily responsible for our irritabilities and tensions—that emerge during high-stress times. 

f. l u x   +   n i g h t   s h i f t | As much as many of us aspire to turn off our computers in the evening, it's not a possibility for the majority. A way to hack into the digital rabbit hole is to use f.lux, a software designed to fluctuate your screen's light according to the time of day. The app controls and reduced blue light colours which, according to research, is the most harmful and are highly disruptive to melatonin levels. I used this app through college—much to the dismay and surprise of friends exclaiming that my "screen is orange?!"—and it saved me from many post-epic essay sleep deprivation. 

Apple has also recently premiered Night Shift with their iOS update which, by using the clock and geolocation, adjusts the lighting of your iPhone. The generic blue light shifts to a warm orange tone—similar to that of f.lux—as the evening approaches. You can activate this in the Display and Brightness section of your Settings.

d a r k n e s s  | A room that is completely dark—so much so that if you raised your hand, you would not be able to see it—is essential for a good night's sleep and a sleeping mask will not cut it. The incredible Lauren has more to say about that  and the effect of light on even our hormones with Lunaception over on Empowered Sustenance. Another great addition is to get thick, light-blocking curtains for complete darkness in the bedroom, such as these ones from West Elm. You might also want to try a digital detox or be wary of how close you keep your electronic gadgets.

b a t h  o r  a l t e r n a t i n g  t e m p e r a t u r e  s h o w e r s  | Regulating the body's temperature through a bath is a quick way to induce sleepiness as the body shifts itself to cooler temperatures. Add in bath salts such as these beautiful ones from Mullein & Sparrow or make a quick epsom salt and mustard bath for achy, tired joints. 

l i s t s   +  j o u r n a l s  | If you cannot keep your monkey mind jumping from one thought to another, have a journal nearby to jot down to-do or gratitude lists. Keeping a diary for journaling the day is also a calming way to take a step back from the daily occurrences, see the big picture, celebrate or contemplate, and surrender.

t e a  f o r  t w o | A cup of herbal tea is another way to not only prepare the body for sleep but choosing the right, targeted tea blend can also provide added benefits. Try a detoxifying tea blend such as this one or other single-herb varieties like nettle leaf, raspberry leaf, dandelion root, marshmallow root, or slippery elm, all of which either support the liver, digestion, or reproductive system to expel built-up toxins.


s u p p l e m e n t s
s o u n d   s l e e p  | I have experimented with a variety of single-strain and mixed herb sleep blends, but this one from Gaia Herbs is the only one that does not suddenly knock me out or leave me woozy. It's recommended to be taken two hours before bed, so the turnaround time is slow enough for a relaxed drift into sleep. Blended with herbs such as passionflower and valerian, this blend does not disrupt the hormone cycle like melatonin or feel like a sleep supplement on steroids.

m i l k   t h i s t l e  |  This is a recent hack that I've incorporated into my sleep regime as this milk thistle, also from Gaia Herbs, is a powerful detoxifier of the liver meridian, which goes into cleansing between one and three a.m. If you have  high alcohol consumption or have been experiencing liver imbalances such as irregular menstruation, anemia, irritability or anger headaches, or chronic fatigue, try adding milk thistle to your regimen before bed to support the liver.

p a s s i o n  f l o w e r  | I have many herbs in my witch's cabinet for sleep, but passionflower has been my chief supplement. Previously, I used to use GABA powder [and I still do from time to time], but Passionflower itself works by increasing this stress-reducing chemical in the brain. The increase in GABA then allows certain brain cells to lower their activity, promoting rest. This herb is also the most potent yet gentle supplement to take for anxiety, another block on our paths to bed. For an even more potent hit, mix it into a teaspoon each of reishi + rhodiola as tea, which will aid in recovering adrenal fatigue . . .

m a g n e s i u m | I  usually do a spoonful of this highly absorptive magnesium to relax my muscles before bed + put a pause in between my monkey mind thoughts 

a p i t h e r a p y  |  For more eye-twitching nights than one, I used to wake up multiple times throughout. Although I was able to swiftly able to drift back into sleep, I was aware that my sleep was light and that I was in this liminal space of being asleep yet awake. Queue in a spoonful of raw honey in the evening to make the sleep go down. Apitherapy is the medicinal use of honeybee products and this raw, unfiltered honey—filled with beeswax, pollen, + propolis—has provided me with stick-to-my-bones medicine. I sleep soundly, wake up rejuvenated, I'm more alert during the day, and my joint pain is practically nonexistent

2 comments :

  1. I love all these tips, especially the supplement recommendations! Though thankfully I haven't had any major sleep issues for a while, it's so great to know there are so many natural aids to get a better night's sleep.

    My mom has actually been taking a spoonful of raw honey every night for the last few weeks and was telling me about it, but I'm really curious about milk thistle. I'll definitely do some more research on it, it sounds very interesting.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Ana,
      The raw honey really is an incredible aid and an anti-bacterial,-fungal, and -viral agent working to clear us up during sleep. Cobined with milk thistle, it can be carried even deeper into the cells (in Ayurvedic medicine, raw honey is used as a "carrier," which is why Charywanprash exists). Let me know how it affects you if and when you do give both a try!

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