Getting in z’s. Snoozing. Passing out. Hit the sack. A beloved child has many names. And a child we love is sleep. No matter if we like it or not it’s a necessity for our survival. Probably the most important part of life together with water.
This natural part of life has been an automatic process since the beginning of time, until now. We have invented light, we have distractions, we have more pressure at work, we are always connected to this thing called the internet. I mean to put it frankly, we have fucked it up. It’s a bigger challenge to sleep today and in this post, we will cover why we sleep on sleep, and how we can take charge of our sleep again.
You’ve probably heard about the circadian rhythm before, but if you haven’t don’t sweat it! Our circadian rhythm controls our wake/sleep cycle. Back in the days, like we’re talking hieroglyphs and mammoths, the sun was the only indicator of night and day. This made it easy for humans to have a pretty stable circadian rhythm by waking up with the sun and going to sleep as the sun sets.
But then our smart asses created light. And then the light bulb, and laptops and smartphones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful that we did but our circadian rhythm might be in the opposite favor. With light, and especially artificial light available to us around the clock we are now playing games with our natural melatonin production, the hormone responsible for controlling our feeling of tiredness.
How to be the master of your circadian rhythm:
- Wake and bake at the same time. Well if you’re not baking scones every morning scratch the baking part. But, the key to keeping a healthy sleep cycle is to wake up around the same time every day. Yes, this means even on weekends! Our body is smart and it will program itself to wake and fall asleep at the same time. This is how some people don’t even need an alarm clock to wake up – their body just knows.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks 6 hours before bed. Caffeine slaps. It’s the juice of life. I love it dearly, but unfortunately it also stays in your body for 6 hours. Yup, that coffee you had with your 3 pm fika (swedes will know) still has half of its caffeine in your system by 9 pm. Naturally, this will make it harder to fall asleep which in turn makes it harder to get up at your call time.
- Move. Exercise and movement, in general, is always a good idea and it also helps with regulating your sleep cycle. Just make sure you’re not getting a crazy workout in right before bed since this can have the opposite effect.
Red light blue light.
Participants of Squid Game get shot down when they move on red light, and we shoot ourselves when we go to sleep with blue light. This new phenomenon of blue light. We wake up to blue light, we work all day in front of it, and we go to sleep with it. If you share my terrible habit of endless TikTok scrolling before bed, you probably have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep. What blue light does is block our sleep hormone called melatonin which usually gets active when it gets dark. Since we have butchered the concept of darkness with artificial lights and especially blue light, we suppress the release of melatonin which in turn throws our circadian rhythm left, right, and side ways.
How to decrease your blue light exposure:
- Put down your damn phone. Okay, this is pretty much stating the obvious but cuddling up with your phone and scrolling endless on TikTok isn’t the best way to fall asleep. And no, I’m not the perfect example here. Basically, we need to break this habit. Put a time limit on your most used social media apps or make sure you put your phone on airplane mode at a certain time each night.
- Turn down your screen light. Sometimes we need to do work, and most of today’s work is done on one of these laptop thingies or even on your phone. What’s good about our devices is that we have the option to increase or decrease the screen light which lowers the exposure just a tiny bit. But hey, a tiny bit is better than no bit!
Sleep and digestion.
There’s no surprise that what we eat and drink does have an effect on our overall health and sleep is not the exception. Foods high in sugar and saturated fat before bedtime makes our insulin go cray cray and put a big strain on our digestion. What happens then when we sleep is that our digestion works on an all-time high, which can make it hard to fall asleep or to have a deep sleep. Another popular food group is alcohol. I know that it’s wrong to call it a food group, but some Friday nights beg to differ. There are people out there who claim that they like to chug a glass of wine before bed to “sleep better”. Hate to break it to you bestie, but alcohol is not the best tool for a good night’s sleep.
Foods to help you catch z’s.
- Nuts. More specifically almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. What these nuts have in common is their high level of magnesium, a vitamin that can help us fall asleep easier.
- Tryptophan. Trypto- what now? Tryptophan is an amino acid (a type of protein) that increases the production of melatonin. Foods high in tryptophan are turkey, chicken, eggs, and cheese.
- Tea. A warming cozy cup of tea is the perfect picture of a sleepy beverage. Tea is an effective way to get into your sleep mode, but it heavily depends on what kind of tea you drink. You want to stick to caffeine free herbal teas such as chamomile, ginger, or peppermint teas.
Hunger and sleep.
Just as eating too much before bedtime has a negative effect on sleep, going to bed starving isn’t really optimal either. Unfortunately, there are still people out there who are scared to eat past 7 pm since food magically turns into 5000 times the energy of what they actually are… To make this clear once and for all, eating food past a certain time will not make you gain or lose fat. So if you’re hungry before bedtime, please eat!
To finish off this post we have to talk about this hustle culture we’re currently living in. Real hustlers don’t sleep. Success doesn’t happen when you snooze, 5 am club, bla bla bla. Don’t get me wrong, if you wake up at 5 am every morning and feel great, amazing! Good for you! But to claim that everyone NEEDS to be doing this to be successful is just pure bullshit. And to the people who say “I can sleep when I’m dead”, I kindly say, well go and die then.
Sleep is extremely important for our health, just as regular exercise and a good diet. If you’re unhealthy and running on 4 hours of sleep every night you will eventually collapse. I might be wrong, but it’s hard to make moves when you’re dead. Find a routine that works for you. When are you most productive? What time is a good time for you to knock out and to rise? And never let those hustle mania idiots tell you that you have to live your life a certain way to become successful.
We live in a world with way more distractions than our dear ancestors ever could’ve dreamed of. Social media, Netflix releasing an entirely new season of a series, constantly being available at work… it’s safe to say that we have a ton of things that keep us busy with anything but sleeping. Insomnia, sleep paralysis, night terrors, and sleeping pills being subscribed are pretty much normalized today. We can’t change our world but we can do our best to make sleep a priority. Speaking as someone with insomnia myself, I know that this isn’t an easy task. But the first step is to normalize sleep. It’s okay if your friend wants to leave the cub earlier because they are tired. It’s okay to sleep in on a weekend or to cancel plans if you’re feeling exhausted and just need to get a good damn nap. Seriously. Go take a nap.