July 3, 2020

Sleepy course 😴 Day 5

Bit by bit we start to shift our focus from habits towards the topic of sleep. Today we’ll add another item to your evening ritual. ✅

One of our brain regions is called the hypothalamus. It’s small, no bigger than a peanut 🥜 but it has a big responsibility. Hypothalamus manages all our cravings including the craving for sleep.

Inside of this brain region there is an even smaller ball. It’s called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. It also has an important task of watching time.

Photo from unsplash by Nadine Shaabana

Years of evolution taught the ball that one daily cycle is roughly 24 hours. The ball does its best to measure the time precisely but it’s not an easy task. You see, it doesn’t have a clock or a watch so it uses light. But our modern cities are bright with artificial lights even late in the evening. Can you imagine what the ball feels? No wonder it constantly flounders. 😞

And the ball doesn’t just watch time for fun. It has a crucial task. It needs to tell our body when to start producing more melatonin. Melatonin is a very important hormone that allows us to fall asleep faster and more deeply. We’ll talk later about melatonin in more detail.

For now. let’s help the ball a bit by surrounding ourselves with darkness one hour before bedtime. 🌚 Of course, we aren’t talking complete darkness - you still need light to navigate your home. Leave only a couple of lightbulbs or a single lamp on.

Use one of the alarms we set on the first day to remind yourself. On days you managed to complete this task stick out one lightbulb in our checklist.

Photo from unsplash by Rodion Kutsaev

The ball will also be grateful if you turn on night mode on your phone and laptop. The night mode shifts the screen to softer shades automatically. This will reduce the influence of the blue-light spectrum which has the greatest impact on our circadian rhythms.
iOS has a built-in function Night Shift, for Android you should download one of the specialized apps on Google Play. At first, you may not like red-shifted screen but you will get used to it in a couple of days.

A guide for iOS users:

  1. Go to Display and Brightness in Settings.
  2. Once there choose Night Shift.
  3. Set the colors to the warmest possible.
  4. Pick a time when Night Shift turns on automatically.

App options for Android:

  1. Free
  2. Paid #1
  3. Paid #2

Guide for Windows 10 laptops

Guide for Macbooks

If your laptop doesn’t support that functionality use the f.lux app.

It’s also important to know that ☝️😌 research shows that you only need to give up your devices completely 15 minutes before sleep. That’s the amount of time your body needs to bring melatonin levels to the norm.

Photo by Charles Deluvio

Want to make the ball completely happy? You can buy glasses that have special lenses blocking the blue light. One research shows that wearing such glasses 2 hours before sleep significantly improved sleep even in people with insomnia.

But this is an optional task. 👨‍🏫 As I promised in the beginning we are going to improve your sleep using the simplest and cheapest methods. I’ll be back tomorrow with a new exciting story. 😌

The tasks:

  1. Turn on night mode on your phone and laptop.
  2. Start to switch off some lights in your home 1 hour before bedtime (use the alarm as a reminder).
  3. Do your evening ritual using the checklist.

The studies:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5703049/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20030543
  3. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-018-0026-z
  4. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/1999/07/human-biological-clock-set-back-an-hour/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30311830